Raising Teenagers-Part 2: Creating a Good Relationship
“Just wait until she’s a teenager!”
This is often heard by parents and said by other parents. The teen years are known for being difficult times, wondering who that person is becoming and do they even remember any of the lessons you taught them when they were younger.
It can be a challenging phase of life, but parents and teenagers, specifically, mothers and daughters (because that’s what I’m most experienced in, that’s what I’ll discuss the most), want to continue their strong bond through the teen years and into adulthood. How do we accomplish this and do it in a more positive way?
The truth is that you as a mother already know how to parent your teenage daughter. It’s intuition, but many of us aren’t as conscious of our intuition as we parent our children. Tapping into that instinct can help guide you on this journey.
Here’s a few things that will help you keep the connection:
You and your daughter (or son), have a bond for life. If you work together and try to stay connected through the years, this bond can stay strong and positive.
The role of her father or your partner in her life is important, but her role of her mother is important because she wants to rely on you and share private things about her femininity, learn how to love her body and self and embrace her new womanly identity as it emerges. You can help her do this by mirroring a loving womanly identity back to her.
Your teenager really does want and need you at the center of her life. She may not be aware of it, but it’s important for you as the parent to remember this. Be the steady and mature presence she needs to guide her into adulthood.
When your bond is strong, the teenage years can be less exhausting because good communication happens, trust grows, and limits are honored.
A note about Helicopter Parents
Helicopter moms tend to hover over their children, ready to rescue them at any moment. They have great anxiety about their child’s successes and failures and become overly involved. This hovering can impede the child’s growth. Do you know the story of the little squirrel that was raised by a lady? She loved the little squirrel so much that she hand-peeled and fed all of its nuts. As a result, the squirrel didn’t develop the tools (sharp teeth and claws from cracking nuts) it needed to live independently in the wild, so when it was freed, it died. Most moms think they are helping their children, but ultimately, their true growth and potential is limited when this type of parenting occurs.
How do you raise your child to become herself?
Using your intuition, you can help your child bloom into the person she is created to become. She is her own unique, authentic person, and you probably know her best and will know how to encourage her to balance her independence with a dependable bond with you as she matures.
It can be very challenging to raise teenagers in a culture that teaches her to look at her body, her grades, her possessions to find her self-worth and identity. Your daughter has her own instincts and she probably thinks differently than you do about certain things. Communication here is key.
Don’t take it personally.
It’s easy to become frustrated, but if we as parents can remember to remain calm, but lovingly detached and realizing that as long as she isn’t threatening our safety with her meltdowns, we must realize that she is being affected by something painful and sometimes she needs some grace. Confrontation in the heat of the moment is not always best. Teenagers have poor impulse control, but ours as adults is more developed, so it is usually best to work out the conflicts after the storm has passed.
Understanding her developmental stage, and the society we live in helps give us the compassion we will need to help her. Nowadays, social media, overly busy schedules, unhealthy images, drugs and alcohol, and certain social circles or friends (not true friends), make it easier for the connection to be lost during the teenage years. The intuition and wisdom from the experiences we have acquired during our lives are beneficial to our children, so trust your gut.
She wants independence, but not too much.
The teen years are a trying time where he or she is seeking their own individuality. To effectively achieve this, they must have a good relationship with their parents. Girls will look toward their mothers to look for affirmation of their new sense of self. It may seem like ambivalence towards us, but it is actually a call for us to stay close.
She seems embarrassed of you.
Don’t be fooled by her sudden lack of public affection. As a mother, it’s earth-shattering to feel that first rejection, or to be told to not come around when she’s with her friends. Just because she wants to hang out with friends more or is less physically affectionate towards you and giving you attitude, doesn’t mean she doesn’t want to be close to you. Sometimes, it’s just closeness from a comfortable distance that she is seeking.
Set reasonable but firm boundaries.
Your teenager is seeking, but it’s your job to stay true to your family values and the limits you feel comfortable with as a parent. What’s reasonable and firm for me and my daughter may be different than what’s reasonable and firm for you and your child. Use your intuition to guide you. Consider her age, safety, your values as a family when keeping an eye on her social schedule, time on the internet and other social media sites.
She is not rejecting you.
Your teenager is bound to push you away, but this isn’t rejection. You are way too important to her for that, so it’s crucial that you don’t REACT to this behavior. Look beneath the behavior for what she’s trying to say. Sil Reynolds, RN is the author of an enlightening book for moms and daughters called Mothering & Daughtering: How to keep the bond strong through the teenage years. This book is a great resource in helping you tap into that intuition to help your daughter.
Her instinct guides her to seek independence but remain connected to you at the same time. Encourage her in both of these behaviors.
Your teenager desperately needs you to look beyond her behavior and try to respond in new ways to help her become her true self. You are the safest person with whom she can work this out. Commit to finding time together to work through this new phase of your relationship.
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