Sunday, May 8, 2016

Things My Mom Taught Me About #Parenting Tween/Teen Girls

Navigating the tween and teen years as a female can be challenging and stressful for both the daughter and mother. Daughters have a mix of of hormones, drama, mean girls, zits, social media and boys. Whew! And mothers have the sweet child they have loved one minute and the next, some creature that they are quite certain didn't come of their loins! The issues these young ladies have today are quite complex, but yet, good parenting does not change.

When I think back, my mom amazes me with her parenting skills. She was tough, but loving. And she always knew how to handle tween/teen girls--drama and all. Seriously--she had three teen girls and one teen boy all at the same time. In fact, she had five kids between the tween and teen ages at the same time at one point! If she ever sweated about it, I never saw it. 

What I gleaned from her style of parenting was amazing and I want to share these tips with my readers because what she did and did not do helped me navigate my tween/teen years without feeding into the drama. So, here are some tips that I learned from my mom and a few I have learned from working with teens over the years.
  1. Check in daily with your child. Ask about their friends. Ask what the best part of their day was. Ask what was the worst. Doing this opens the lines of communication. Some days, maybe your child won't have much to say, but other days they will open the door to their world. I know there have been days when I talk to my daughter after school and seems like she had a great day. But then we find the quiet time when she is snuggling in bed and she opens up about a friend who said something hurtful.
  2. Their drama is NOT your drama. Stay out of it. By that, I mean listen to what they say. Let your daughter vent. And no matter how upset you may be about what some mean little girl said or did, don't show that you are upset. Don't resort to name calling. Don't tell your child how mean the other person is. Instead, calmly express your concern about the situation. Make helpful statement like, "That wasn't nice of her. Maybe she was having a bad day." Getting upset and angry about how your child was treated will only make matters worse. First, it will just fuel your child's upset feelings. And secondly, your daughter may be upset with someone today, and will be best friends with her tomorrow. If your daughter thinks that you think poorly of her friend now, she may not confide in you.
  3. Model, model, model. I can't stress this enough. Your daughter is trying to figure out her way in this world. If she sees how you confidently handle situations, she is likely to mimic you. If she sees you getting overly upset when your friend does something you don't like, she will do the same with her friends.
  4. One of the greatest issues that young women have is low self-worth. They think they are not good enough. The media constantly is telling them they need to act, be, and look a certain way. They compare themselves with their peers. Helping your daughter to focus on her character, rather than her looks is important. When we put too much focus on our daughters or ourselves looking a certain way, the need to wear certain name brand clothing, etcetera, we are teaching them that if they don't do these things, they are not worthy. Teach your daughters the value of their bodies and how to respect their bodies.
  5. Help your child to come to their own (right) conclusions. When it comes to friends, sometimes our experience tells us that someone our child is hanging out with is not of good character. Coming straight out and telling our daughter this is a surefire way to start a battle. Instead, talk to your daughter about what a good friend looks like.
  6. When your daughter has problems with someone, don't tell her to not talk to the other girl--no matter how mean this girl is. This is wrong on so many levels. First, it is hurtful. The other girl may feel excluded. Secondly, it is just plain disrespectful. Teach your daughter to be kind. As Aesop said, no act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted. Teach her to rise above. This is a skill she will need for the rest of her life.
  7. Teach her how to fight her own battles. You fighting her battles is such a disservice to your daughter. You are not always going to be around to help your daughter so she needs to learn how to resolve her problems herself. 
  8. Teach her how to be hardworking and independent. Chores are important. So many skills are learned by doing chores--teamwork, responsibility, stick-to-it-ness. When she is out in the real world, being hardworking and independent go a long way. An example in my own life was when I lost a job due to budget cuts. I was single and living out of state. I could have filed for unemployment, but instead, jumped to take a couple part-time jobs where I ended up with full-time offers from both.
  9. Get your own insecurities out of the way. You are the grown up. Act like it. Love the skin you are in. Love yourself for who you are--flaws and all. My favorite expression ever since my daughter was young is that we are all perfectly imperfect (how luck was I to find this on a t-shirt for her last year?).
  10. Don't try to live through your daughter. Don't push your daughter to be the cheerleader or the sports player because it is what you wanted or what you want for your daughter. Let her decide what is right for her. Help her to identify her talents and strengths instead.
  11. When the experience a problem at school with a teacher, don't jump in to fix it. Guess what? Teachers aren't out to get your child. Instead, encourage your child to do something about it. Encourage them to talk to the teacher about their grade. Oh, and by the way, if she doesn't get perfect grades, that's okay. 
  12. Encourage your child to compete with only one person--themselves.
  13. Teach your daughter that she cannot possibly compare herself to anyone else because there is no one else like her. Tell her it is like comparing an apple to an orange. She is different from others. And that's a good thing. Always be ready to point out her strengths.
  14. Teach her to be humble. Help her to admit when she is wrong and do something about it.
  15. Let your daughter fail. The greatest disservice we can do to our children is to not let them fail or to rush in when they do and try to make it better. If you haven't figured it out by now, life sucks sometimes. It's better they learn that lesson now then when they get out in the real world and deal with even bigger disappointments and don't have the experience to handle them.
  16. Teacher her to have manners and that a written thank you goes a long way.
  17. Teach her that true beauty comes from within.
  18. Remind her that you love her, even when you don't see eye to eye.
Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there!

1 comment:

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