Remember those sweet little girls, wearing tu-tu skirts, dressed in pink – whose eyes used to light up the minute you walked into the room? Umm, and, where the heck did they go?
For every parent that is raising teenage daughters it is easy to sit back and wonder in retrospect where the years have gone and why things had to change at all. Just yesterday, they were delighted to sit in your lap and read books, and now your house is filled with hormonal changes that could give the most stable parent whiplash.
The truth is that being a girl is hard enough, but being a teenage girl is even harder. There is a ton of pressure on girls these days to grow up fast and many parents find that their daughters are growing up way too fast. If it isn’t trouble with boys, or girlfriends (who are mean and wicked to say the least), its concerns about their appearance, their grades, their hair, their clothes, or their period that keep them acting testy. And in their defense, the world that they live in is vastly different from the world that you, as a parent lived in as a teen.
There is no easy way to navigate these years. The best advice that parents can be given is to stick to their guns, to raise their girls with morals, to ALWAYS remain a parent rather than a friend, and to pray. A lot. The goal in raising any child, whether male or female is to foster the kind of independence that will make them a productive member of society one day. You want to be able to instill values in your child that will make them adept at solving their own problems and meandering through live potentially unscathed. With girls, this is a very difficult endeavor.
And while you have to always be the parent instead of the friend, it is best to proceed with compassion when you are raising teenage daughters. While boys have minimal changes and don’t have to worry about periods or whether their boobs are big enough to not be teased – girls do. These concerns and worries are all-encompassing for females and can be a big reason why your daughter acts so schizophrenic. It is this inner desire to learn to accept them selves that makes their life full of turmoil. Easily enough the best way to help them love themselves and be self-confident is to love them just the way they are. This doesn’t mean that you are going to particularly LIKE the eye rolling, slamming doors, shoulder shrugging and ease of tears that often accompany this age group – but you have to be able to accept it.
Even trickier is the fact that girls utilize all of these changes and the innate ‘need to be understood,’ as a way to manipulate parents. If they say they hate you, or treat you as if you are an embarrassment to them, you are probably doing your job properly. And you cannot use your own misgivings about them ‘not liking’ you anymore as a platform for them to manipulate you. Girls are really good at manipulating mom and dad with guilt in order to get their way. Stick to your guns. The bottom line is that they do love you, need you more now than ever and one day will appreciate the fact that you were not their doormat. The parents who become doormats not only suffer from this behavior, but their daughters do as well.
There is an old saying that says the reason little girls is so cute in the beginning of their life is only to draw in the undying phase of parental love. While you still see the curly headed bubbly little girl who used to twirl around the living room and give you sloppy kisses on your cheek, the truth is she is growing up. And during her most monstrous moments, when you are wondering if it is reasonable to eat your young (or send her away to boot camp), it is that glimmer of cuteness from yesterday that keeps you on your toes and forces you to do the right thing for your daughter.
No matter how big your teenager is getting, and no matter how well (or unwell) she is handling her life – she needs you to be a constant wave of support and consistency. If she sees you wavering in any direction – you will be set on a course for disaster. The good news is that this phase too, shall pass. Just like when she wasn’t able to get rid of her pacifier and you walked her through this heartbreak, she will need you to walk her through the heartbreaks of the teenage years.
Remember, your teenager does not have the ability to see around corners. She doesn’t really know what is ahead of her and even though she may think she knows everything, while you know squat – the opposite is always true. The girls whose parents continually fight for their survival, who make it their number one priority to stay involved (even when the daughters act as if they don’t want them around) raise the happiest, most self-confident, successful woman in this world. It is YOU who gives them their wings and it is YOU who teaches them how to fly. If there are a few crashes in the middle, and everybody survives…count your blessings. She is and always will be your little girl.