Parenting teen and tween daughters brings its own special joys and challenges. So here, from one of our favorite parenting experts, Ksenija Olmer from the John Muir Women’s Health Center, are five tips to help parents of adolescent girls survive the rollercoaster ride:
1. Remember this too, shall pass. (And when it does, try to be the better person and not drag up the embarrassing moments.)
2. Understand that your daughter saves the worst for you because she knows you will love her despite anything. Your friends and neighbors, her teachers are telling you what a wonderful, polite, helpful girl she is. Don’t say, “Are you sure you didn’t mix her up with someone else?” Smile and glory in the fact that, despite your fears, she is growing up to be a responsible member of our society. She is successful in presenting herself in the best light outside the home, so she can fall apart when she makes it through the door.
3. Keep your cool. Many times girls say things and act in ways that are not true to themselves, just to see if they can provoke you. Tattoos, piercings, hitchhiking to Santa Cruz or dropping out of high school? Don’t say, “Over my dead body!” Calmly reply “Tell me more. What is your reasoning behind this?” There usually isn’t any.
4. Stand your ground, but give her some negotiating room. As a parent you have a duty to provide your daughter with guidance, rules and boundaries that keep her safe. But those boundaries should be eased as she proves her maturity, or tightened if she breaks them — and most girls will.
5. Take care of yourself. Don’t always put yourself last. Show your daughter by example that a woman should value herself, her mind, soul, body, and health. Nurture your marital relationship. Couples who play together, stay together. Schedule regular dates, walks, dinners with friends, short trips or even mini-vacations, if you have good supervision for your daughter.
And finally, remember, says Ksenija, that “there are no Perfect Mothers, just Good Enough Mothers. Don’t beat yourself up for your inadequacies. You will make mistakes, sometimes warranting an ‘I am sorry’ or ‘I was wrong.’ You are only human, not God. If you will recall, even s/he had trouble with Adam and Eve.”
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