Remember when they were little and super cute and agreeable? That was fun, wasn’t it? Don’t get me wrong, teenage daughters can be a lot of fun too but raising a young woman in today’s landscape isn’t for the weak. Teenage girls today face more peer pressure from more arenas than we did when we were growing up. We, for example, didn’t have to worry about how we were perceived or treated on social media. We had the internet but it was still relatively young and mild mannered; nothing like today’s hornet’s nest.
So how do you do it? How do you raise teenage girls in the millennium? How do you help your daughters feel good about themselves, gain confidence, stay out of trouble, resist peer pressure and, really, just get through high school in one piece?
Unfortunately there aren’t any simple tricks that you can use to guarantee this outcome. But there are a few things that you can do to shift the odds in your favor.
Do Your Research
Did you know that, according to Sandy’s Place, a center in Southern California that offers alcohol rehab for women, women are at a greater risk for addiction and alcohol related diseases than men? Our biology allows substances like alcohol and drugs to affect us more severely than a man’s biology allows. So, while your son might be able to experiment with beer and walk away unscathed, your daughter could do the same experimentation and develop dependence problems.
Spend some time brushing up on your biology and learn about how the hormones coursing through your daughter’s body are affecting her. Take some time to really learn about what life is like for teenagers in contemporary society. I guarantee you, what your daughter is dealing with today is nothing like what we experienced. So, when she tells you that you don’t know what it’s like to be a teenager, she’s partially right!
Listen, Listen, then Listen Some More
Actively listen to the details that your daughter shares with you about her life. Encourage her to tell you everything, even if she is afraid that you might be angry or disappointed. Ask her about her day, what she’s thinking and feeling, and really listen to her responses. The more comfortable she feels sharing ideas with you, the less likely she will be to keep secrets from you.
Try to Keep Your Judgment to Yourself
This is going to be a hard one. Your daughter is going to make friends with people you don’t like. She is going to behave in ways that you don’t like. She is going to think and do things differently than you might like. Do your best to keep your judgments to yourself. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t say something if you are genuinely worried. If you’re worried for her health (emotional or physical) or safety, it’s good to talk to her and let you know that you are worried and–this is the most important part–why. But if you just hate the way her best friend dresses, or you hate the music she loves, keep that to yourself.
Boundaries and Rules are Important
Teenagers are going to look for loopholes in every rule or boundary that you set for them. That’s just the nature of adolescence. Even so, it is vitally important that you set definite boundaries, rules and expectations for your teenagers. Your daughter needs to know exactly what you expect from her and what the consequences will be if she does not meet those expectations. You can’t ground her for being late only some of the time. You need to be firm and predictable. She needs you to be the limit setter, not the friend who encourages her to do whatever she wants.
None of this is going to be easy. But then, you didn’t become a parent because you thought it would be easy, right?