I don’t have any kids, so maybe I can’t be the one to suggest parenting skills. I can’t relate to you parents out there, but I can definitely relate to your teen. I’m 22 years old, and I vividly remember high school. I remember being that overly-dramatic teenager. I remember having those awkward and insecure moments as a teen. I remember what it felt like to want to be different, but sometimes conforming to peer pressure so I could fit in. High school is HARD.
I get it, raising teenage girls can be challenging, too. They are in the midst of understanding who they are in this world. They are exploring their individuality, becoming familiar with their sexuality, starting to pay more and more attention to boys, and puberty is hitting heavy. Plus, nine times out of 10 they’re involved in some type of drama.
On top of all of their daily challenges, the internet decided to throw in social media, which can make the most secure teenager feel like they aren’t good enough. Then to top off everything with a big fat cherry, Mother Nature decides she wants to drop into their lives once a month for forever. How do you work around all of this, use effective punishment, but still try to be there for your teenager?
First, the more open you are with your teen, the more open they will be with you. Being relatable is so beneficial because it lets them know, “OK, my parent understands what it is like to be here.” Most teens fear being misunderstood by their parent, so when your teen does not completely trust you with their personal life, they will do anything to build a wall between you.
My next one is big, so pay real close attention. You know what your daughter needs the most from you? I know some of you are not going to like this one, but just hear me out. Sometimes your daughter just needs… a friend. Social media is at the tip of their fingertips and it is so hard to feel big in such a HUGE digital world.
It’s made middle and high school even worse than it used to be. You get on Instagram and see Tiffany get 1,000 likes while you’re stuck on 103. One day you have a best friend, and then the next day you see that your “best friend” just posted a picture with your guy! Everybody looks like they are living their best life, and you’re literally struggling to keep your sanity, or at least that is what it feels like for your teen.
To be a friend, listen to your daughter and pass no judgment. Just listen. Gossip with your daughter and let her tell you about Macy stealing Anna’s boyfriend. Go get your nails done with her; go play basketball with her; talk to her about boys, PLEASE. Let her be open to you about them, and what she is going through without you looking at her crazy or telling her “I told you so.” Give her guidance and still be her parent, but reassure her that everything is going to be okay, and if she doesn’t have anyone else to talk to, she always has you.
Hey, dads! You play a key piece, too. Be there for her even when you think that’s “her Mom’s job.” She needs you just as much. You speak identity into her, you show her what a man is supposed to be like, and you have a huge impact on her self-esteem. I know you can’t relate as much to some of the girlie stuff, but man, you’re such an important factor for her.
We know as adults that high school is not even the best part of their life. We all know that the girls she gets into drama with won’t even matter after she walks across that stage, but she’s not there yet. Right now, high school is the best part of her life, and there are already enough challenges. Yes, I know, teenage girls can be a handful. But they are just trying to figure out how they navigate in this world.
So the next time you’re ready to throw in the towel with your teen, think back to your own awkward high school days. You didn’t have social media, #relationshipgoals, and Snapchat filters. But you could bring up some relatable stories to share that would bring the two of you closer together.
So what does your daughter really need from you? Let’s do a quick recap…
She needs you to:
- Be open and relatable
- Listen without judgment
- Understand the impact of social media
- Give guidance and reassurance
And ultimately? To love her.