Lets get one thing straight …. you are not her best friend …. anymore!
That digital palm card she carries everywhere … her phone … that is now her best friend. It’s where all the love is coming from and its where all her friends hang out. The amount of love she gets just sitting on the lounge. I can feel that thing vibrating from 3 metres away!!!
One thing, if you have a teenager daughter that we can all relate to, is the distance that grows between you and your girl as she matures. Her independence expands exponentially and you can often feel yourself sitting on the outside of the friendship circle. It’s palpable and will sometimes bring a tear to your eye. That pudgy little hand that you used to hold, is slapping you away.
There is absolutely no mistaking it, teenage girls are like making your way through a maze of thick tar. You are clawing for anything that will pull you out of the situation you constantly find yourself in. And, you, you are never right. So don’t be confused about that.
I put together 3 tips for raising a teenage daughter.
1. Eye contact
Keep it soft. The fastest way to get a teenager offside and lose her attention is to glare down on her. And quite frankly, they are damn good at matching your intentions of ‘putting them in their place’, you end up feeling like your in the naughty corner! And one of the best ways to draw a teenager out, is to gaze longingly into their eyes. Layout the ‘these are my listening eyes’ and the eyes do the talking. When they feel they are in a safe space ‘through your eyes’, they will speak and naturally calm their crazy ass teenager rage. You may be thinking ‘wtf?’ are you serious, yes, yes I am. Next time you are ‘having words’, just stop and look into her eyes, softly. It also helps you to understand where she is coming from, keeps the lines of communication open, and bonus, you will probably both end up laughing. True story!
2. Body Language
Oh boy it can feel like a battle ground. Hands on hips, walking away, blank faces, ignoring. Aren’t teenagers fun! It can be really tough to hug your teenager like you used to when she was a little girl. It’s usually greeted with a shrug, or a step away or a general body swerve and avoid. This becomes the norm. Having a teenager is a lesson in learning body language. When is it ok to approach? When can I cuddle her? When can I fit those kisses on cheeks and noses like when she was three? Take it from me, if she is hunched over her phone or her laptop, take that as …. do not approach …. you are not welcome in my space, and my body language is illustrating that I AM BUSY. I have learnt my daughters body language to say ‘mum you can give me cheek and nose kisses at bedtime and I will come to you if hugs are needed’. Which she does. Sad, but also true.
Lean into her strengths and support her struggles. Teenagers are extremely self-conscious one minute and have the confidence of The Godfather the next. I admit sometimes it can be challenging to know which your going to get, but no matter what, always return encouraging words to her. Being a sounding board is what she needs most, even when she is telling you she doesn’t care or rolling her eye, she is soaking up what you are saying and modelling to her. They don’t stop being kids at teenagers, they need you more than ever. There is so much more going on in a teenagers world than there was when I was a teenager, so many more things they are required to do and be, and overload of information and stimulation. It’s a real struggle for them. Teenage anxiety and depression is at an all time high and most teenagers nowadays have or do struggle with it on a daily basis. Here are some areas to pay close attention to and encourage her:
- Her appearance ~ she needs to know that she was born beautiful and every day the world needs her just as she is. That no amount of make up will make her more than her natural beauty. That even the way she dresses tells a story about the person she is and she doesn’t need to be telling someone else’s story by wearing their outfit. Her’s is the only one she needs.
- Her friends ~ are they kind to eachother, do they do nice and special things for each other, do they share. When they are together are they laughing and having fun. Does she smile when she gets a text from a friend? If she is not, pay attention! Build on encouraging the positive relationships and how she can best interact and grow her friend network together.
- Your relationship ~ are you talking openly? does she willingly share information about her life and her friends? One of the best ways to keep the lines of communication open is to show interest in her life (but no too much all at once, or she may feel like you are interrogating her). When she talks about something to do with her friends or school a great way to encourage a discussion is to respond with things like “oh really?”, “how does that work?”, “oh wow, how come?”, “and did you …..?”. These might look or sound odd, but they are good for letting her do the talking, she sees that you are interested but not intruding too much. It lets her elaborate and lets you into her world. And when you have a teenage daughter, you need to be in her world.
Most importantly, even when it feels impossible, just love her. Make sure she knows that no matter what, you will love her and always be there for her.