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As the mom of two teen girls and a tween girl, I have a front row seat to all things teen. Navigating the waters surrounding these issues successfully is key, and we as moms are the life preserver that will keep our teen daughters afloat when the seas get rough. Let’s be honest, it’s not easy to be a mom of a teen girl all the time. Mother and daughter relationships can be challenging at any age, but this is especially true if you’ve got a teenage daughter in your home.
If you are living with a teenage girl and want to take some proactive steps to reach her heart, I’ve got some great tips for you. In fact, there are four things you will want to pay special attention to.
There are the things I find to be super important to address when it comes to mother and daughter relationships when your daughter is a teen girl.
Depression in teen girls:
- give her time to be a kid because she still is a kid (believe it or not)
- make sure that you are not over scheduling her or putting too much pressure to succeed on her
- let her know that failure is ok because after all, we all fail sometimes
- model healthy relationships for her – relationships with your spouse, friends, other children, and extended family members. Help her see how beneficial it is to have a healthy support system. I talked about this some in How to Help a Friend Who is Hurting and The Beauty of a Network of Friends.
- make sure she has a strong male figure in her life, too
Sexual behavior in teen girls:
- discuss what your goals are for her in terms of her sexuality and explain why
- equip her to handle pressure – teach her to stand up for herself, even teach her some basic self defense skills. My girls have all had some karate training (I wish we had the time for more. I would love for my girls to have black belts, personally)
- limit her exposure to unhealthy cultural experiences. This means that we as moms have to watch what we expose ourselves to because if you can see it, most likely she can, too. Watch what televisions shows are on in your house as well as movies, internet sites, and games. Also, please, monitor internet use. There is a huge internet world out there and once out there on the web, on the cloud, or stored somewhere else in digital format, what was shared with only a few people can become HUGE
- Have her taken out on dates beginning at a young age by a trusted male figure whether a father, grandfather, or trusted family friend, she needs to know how to be treated (and how not to be treated) by boys and men
- monitor her clothing and set standards that you are comfortable with on how modest or immodest her clothing may be, and then stand firm on your boundaries, even if she “hates you” for it
Cultural messages about appearances and “stuff” with teen girls:
- discuss what you see in the cultural influences – what is real and what is fake. Do women really look in real life like they do on the magazine cover?
- approach makeup from the standpoint of it being something that is used to enhance her own features rather than to alter her appearance or draw attention to herself. Imperfections are a part of being human, we all have them. Things like acne and other skin related problems can understandably be addressed to make her blemishes less noticeable, but again, acne, pimples, oily skin, they are all a part of being a teen
- see to it that you are not creating an unhealthy viewpoint on “stuff.” This can be a difficult thing for us to examine in our own lives, but we must make sure that we are not asking our girls to be less concerned about stuff if we are not modeling that as well.
Eating disorders in teen girls:
- make sure you model a healthy viewpoint of body image. This would include not complaining about your own body image where she can hear you – or at all!
- establish a model healthy eating habits. This would include not obsessing about dieting. If you are dieting, it needs to be kept on the lowdown as opposed to it being an obviously restrictive diet plan
- do not criticize the bodies of others, too. Carefully phrase anything negative you have to say about someone else’s body
- if weight is a problem, research a healthy way to make changes, and then do them right along with her
- make sure that she has plenty of things in her life that she has control over. When girls feel overwhelmed and out of control about life, they look for something they can control. What they do and don’t put in their mouths is an easy target
Being a mom of a teen girl is a high calling, but once you know the four things about teen girls and then know what to do about these four things, you will have a great toolkit to put to use.
As with everything with our kids, maintaining open lines of communication is essential, especially during the teen years. Take these four areas to heart. Think on them, evaluate where your own daughter is and where changes can be made. Don’t delay, jump right in with both feet and be her life preserver!