How to Understand and Relate to Your Teenage Daughter

understanding your teenage daughter

understanding your teenage daughter

Raising girls is no easy feat, especially when that girl hits her teen years. That doe-eyed, daddy-adoring preteen who would talk your ear off and bat her eyes to get an extra scoop of ice cream is now filled with complicated emotions, and she may lash out and challenge your authority. No matter how much she pushes you away, teen girls need their parents to supervise (from a distance), support and most importantly, talk to them as they face these new challenges of growing up. The best way to get through the emotional teenage years is to understand what’s important to her and figure out how to relate.

Let Her Assert Her Independence

She is certain to test the limits and boundaries from time to time, but research tells us that teens do best when they are allowed to have and express their own points of view, even if they differ from yours. Just keep the lines of communication open and stay closely connected to her world, so you can help her navigate the path to discovering who she is. Allow her to decide such things as:

  • When and how to change her hairstyle
  • What she will wear (within reason)
  • When to do homework
  • How to decorate and organize her room and personal space
  • Whom to invite to parties
  • How to spend her allowance

Respect Her Privacy

No snooping. As she gets older, her personal space and belongings become more important to her and if she feels intruded on, she will feel the need to hide things and become closed off. Instead, let her know she can trust you to respect her privacy, as long as she has and continues to earn that respect.

Understand That Social Standing Matters

Things like style, popularity and image may not matter to you, but they are top of mind for your daughter and her peers. Don’t minimize what is important to her by dismissing her concerns about these things. You don’t have to get her the latest fashions on demand—that’s what an allowance is for, right?—but listen to her and help her find an appropriate resolution.

For example, if your daughter complains that her best friend is not talking to her and she has no friends, telling her to simply find new friends probably won’t help. It’s unlikely to be a viable solution and can leave her feeling like you don’t understand or can’t relate. Instead, encourage her to give you the details of what caused the riff and identify a solution to reconnect with the friend and get back on common ground. However, If the situation becomes worrisome, voice your concerns in a serious but nonjudgmental manner and discuss the serious nature of bullying, so you can identify next steps if it is truly a harmful situation.

Give Her the Right Tools to Be Successful

There are a few rites of passage that she needs your help reaching, no matter how much she acts like she doesn’t. Help her succeed by providing her with the right tools, and then give her the freedom to use them. For example, when it comes time for her to learn how to drive, help her study for her permit, enroll her in driver’s ed or teach her yourself. And when she’s applying to colleges, offer to proofread her essay and tour prospective schools with her. You can help her choose which college to go to, but then remember: The ultimate choice should be hers.

A Survival Guide to Parenting Teens

Joani Geltman, author of A Survival Guide to Parenting Teens.
Topic:
Talking to your kids about sexting, drinking, drugs,and other things that freak you out.
Issues: What you need to understand about what your teen child is going through psychologically and physically; mistakes and assumptions parents often make about their teens; what parents of boys need to watch out for vs. parenting teen girls.

Raising Teens to Succeed + Talking to Teens about Tough Issues

Dennis Trittin, coauthor of Parenting for the Launch.
Topic:
Raising teens to succeed in the real world.
Issues: How to prepare teens to make key life decisions; communicating effectively to build an enduring relationship with your emerging young adult; valuing your child’s uniqueness, potential, and intrinsic worth; moving confidently from the driver’s to the passenger seat.

Joani Geltman, author of A Survival Guide to Parenting Teens.
Topic:
Talking to your kids about sexting, drinking, drugs,and other things that freak you out.
Issues: What you need to understand about what your teen child is going through psychologically and physically; mistakes and assumptions parents often make about their teens; what parents of boys need to watch out for vs. parenting teen girls.

Do Fathers Matter?

Paul Raeburn, author of Do Fathers Matter?
Topic:
What science tells us about the parent we’ve overlooked.
Issues: What do fathers do? The father’s important role in child children’s life from conception through the teen years; how being a father (or father-to-be) actually rewires men’s brains; What we need to do to support and encourage fathers.

Lessons Learned from Students + The Science of Fatherhood

Kim Bearden, author of Crash Course: The Life Lessons My Students Taught Me.
Topic:
Advice from a master teacher and educator on what works and what doesn’t in schools.
Issues: Tools master teachers use to connect with students in a way that motivates and inspires them; innovative ways to increase student engagement inside and outside the classroom, promote rigor, and create a climate and culture for optimal learning.

Paul Raeburn, author of Do Fathers Matter?
Topic:
What science tells us about the parent we’ve overlooked.
Issues: What do fathers do? The father’s important role in child children’s life from conception through the teen years; how being a father (or father-to-be) actually rewires men’s brains; What we need to do to support and encourage fathers.

A Brief Guide to Teen Lingo

Dear Mr. Dad: My 12-year-old daughter recently had a slumber party with two friends from school. One of them left her phone. I texted my daughter so she could tell her friend, and two seconds later got this back: DO NOT READ ANYTHING ON THAT PHONE!!!!! Clearly she was trying to hide something, so I immediately opened the phone and started reading the texts—especially between this girl and my daughter. With all the abbreviations, I could hardly understand what they were talking about. But based on my daughter’s response, I’m worried. Should I be? And was I wrong to read those texts?

A: Yes and no. Your daughter’s screaming response could simply be a demand for privacy, which is something you should try to respect. However, her response seems so panicky that I think you were right to snoop. The fact that you couldn’t understand what you were reading doesn’t necessarily mean there’s anything to worry about—your daughter and her friend could be having completely innocent conversations that you’re just not cool enough to understand (very few adults are). On the other hand, it could be exactly the opposite.
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