Sometimes it is hard to know how you can best support your teenage daughter. There are so many challenges during the teen years, which create unique parenting challenges in and of themselves. Here are 4 ways that a mom can love her teenage daughter well.
1. Give your daughter permission to be imperfect
With perfection bombarding them from every angle (self-induced or not), it’s important to remember that YOUR voice is valuable. It cuts deeper to their heart than any other voice, even if they seem to blow off everything you say.
You have an incredible opportunity to help your daughter curb the pressures brought on by school, sports, social media and social expectations. This current culture has our girls feeling as if extreme standards are creeping up from all sides. Mounting perfectionistic demands/tendencies have rendered a generation of girls incapable of sharing authentic feelings or needs.
Take a deep breath; we are not asking you to give your daughter a free pass to failure-town. Rather, we suggest using these years to show them that it is okay to fall, that there is a lesson in every hardship, and that ultimately, being “perfect” or “popular” is not the point. They need to know that you see them and love them not only for what they are excelling in but simply just for their presence in your life (even their quirks).
2. Model authenticity and emotional maturity
We promise your daughter notices your behavior. Even if she believes you are embarrassing, you are her primary teacher in relational intelligence, communication, and emotional maturity. Remember that when your teen shares their social and internal conflict, you are talking to a teen. It is tempting to want to relate to them on the ground level, but we know you have conflict resolution skills above that of a high schooler. Please put them to use!
When they observe you practicing honest self-awareness, gracious conflict resolution, authenticity, and humility, you are molding your child by simply modeling a behavior, and teaching them to access high character even in adverse times.
3. Manage your personal emotional health
If we have learned anything working with teen girls, it is that the insecurities of a mom tend to shine through in the insecurities of her daughter. The unaddressed wounds are being passed through generations and rarely is a mom aware of the personal internal work necessary to build up a strong and confident girl.
One of the best things you can do for your daughter is work on YOU. She needs an emotionally healthy mom more than she needs another achievement medal or pat on the back. The extent to which a mom has entered into the hard task of healing and self-awareness is the degree to which she can perceive, protect and guide her daughter through the same critical work.
4. Be a mom, not a friend. They will thank you for it later.
The line between mom and friend can often be confusing, especially when trying to keep lines of communication open. However, nothing is more disheartening than watching a mom provide alcohol, condoms, diet pills and the party spot for their teen just to be the “cool mom.” Also disheartening is when a mom escalates the mindless gossip about another girl at school or calls the administrator to complain because their student is not the first string on the team. This approach has only the short game in mind for your teen and the friendship approach makes it difficult to truly lead.
Being an amazing mom does not mean protecting your daughter from every disappointment and insecurity possible. It means equipping her with character, courage, perseverance, compassion, and integrity in the MIDST of frustration and insecurity. It also means helping your daughter to manage her own emotions and problem solve. Yes, your daughter needs a relationship with you and sometimes disappointment and insecurities look like a threatening foe, but they can bring such depth to your relationship if you allow it.
Fight for your daughter to know that you have an ENDLESS capacity of love for her. Make sure she knows that there is no secret too hard for you to hear and no mistake too large to disqualify her from your affection. And when the time calls for it, become an expert in apologizing. These open lines of communication are worth the fight. And while you love her fiercely, show her that there is so much more to life than high school and that the ultimate goal is not just to be beautiful and popular. Teach her that it is okay to have a messy journey and that you, too, have walked the road of adolescence and prevailed.
These years are tough, but keep fighting the good fight. Your work as a mom matters more than you will ever know!
Written By: Krista DeYoung