Monica, over at the Grommom, has four sons. She writes about them all the time, and I love reading her stories and hearing her thoughts and opinions about how to be a better mom to each of them. Lord knows I need constant help in this area. And just as there are certain things every teenage boy needs from his mom, teenage girls are in need of certain things from mom too.
I’m no expert when it comes to parenting but I do have a daughter that is 17 and one that is 12, so between conversations with other moms, reading books, and talking to my girls directly, I have followed Monica’s lead in coming up with a list of what I think are the most important things a teenage girl needs from her mom:
1. Questions ~ Girls like to talk. They like to chit- chat, and boy can they babble on for hours. If your daughter comes to you and invites you to ask her questions, like my daughter does, by all means ask away. Because what she really wants is for you to know her, to want to know her, to be interested in knowing her. The older girls get, the more independent they become, and their need to be known by someone they trust has hopefully been established.
So moms…make a list if you have to and have it handy for those down times when your daughter is just waiting for you to get to know her. And by all means, ask questions that require more than a yes or no answer!
2. Boundaries ~ Freedom is earned and all teenage girls need opportunities to demonstrate responsibility in order to gain that freedom. For us this has come in the form of phone curfews (leaving cell phones in the kitchen after 8pm), regular curfews, driving the family car, chores, and the list goes on.
Teenage girls need structure. Structure provides the security and safety girls need as they navigate the moody waters of the teenage years. And they will be moody. Girls need to learn that even though they are experiencing hormonal changes on a monthly basis they are responsible for their behavior. Setting boundaries will keep them accountable for their actions, attitudes, and words so they enter into adulthood with some much needed self-control.
3. Honesty ~ The older my daughter gets the more opportunities I’ve had to be honest about my past mistakes. It is scary, actually, telling her about my high school indiscretions and college recklessness. But I believe that the more real I am, not just a pillar of a perfect parent, the more willing she will be to confide and confess when she’s struggling in an area. To be sure, this openness requires wisdom in knowing when your daughter is ready to handle certain types of information. The fact that mom is not perfect and has the potential to make mistakes and learn from them is a valuable teaching tool.
4. Freedom to be a Princess ~ It starts when they are little. Dressing up in their favorite Disney princess outfit and plastic princess shoes and before you know it, homecoming and prom are right around the corner. The dress, the shoes, the wrap, the purse, the hair, the makeup, the nails, the list goes on and on, and most teenage girls love every last bit of it! Let’s be real moms, adult opportunities to get all dolled up in a full length gown are…well…few and far between. So let them take advantage of those teenage years when they have the opportunities to get all dressed up since they actually have a place to go!
5. Freedom to Change Her Mind ~ If I had a dime for every time my daughter changed her outfit or changed her plans or changed her mind about how she felt about a boy, I could retire today! I love that girls are so squirrelly. It makes us so much more interesting, does it not? One minute my daughter is planning on going to a movie, the next she is off fishing.
There truly is never a dull moment in the mind of a teenage girl because everything affects everything in a teenage girl’s life. If she does A then B will have to be done later and that wont leave time for C, and I guess D will have to wait for tomorrow and E can be squeezed in today if we get done with A early and, oh wait, F needs to be done today so we’ll have to cancel B, but G just came up so now we need to reschedule C and she didn’t really want to do D anyway so forget that and, well…you get the idea.
And it can all change in a matter of minutes.
For mom, it can be exhausting, especially when they are older and driving. Knowing where they are and where they are going next requires the utmost in communication, because just when you thought you knew what the plan was, yup, it changes again. Girls need their moms to be patient with all the changes knowing this is just a part of life that is currently under construction. And moms, it’s ok to say “no” when things get too crazy.
6. Quality Time ~ My daughter and I love scary movies. Our time together on the couch while we both freak out has always been something I look forward to. Teenage girls need time with their moms that doesn’t include a deep conversation, so make sure you are setting time aside to just hang with your teen. I know the older they get the harder it is to fit into her schedule, so make a point to set aside some time to go shopping, get makeovers, exercise, or just have lunch. They’ll be off to college before you know it and you’ll be so glad you did.
7. Dating Rules ~ I have always been a stickler for how a guy treats a girl, and I am very verbal when it comes to making sure my daughter knows how she deserves to be treated when it comes to dating. Opening doors for her, picking her up in his car, planning early in the week for a date, paying for the date, these are just a few suggestions when it comes to finding a guy who is chivalrous. I’m here to tell you that if moms have done a good job, like Monica in raising boys, then chivalry is not dead and can be expected in a relationship. Call me traditional, but I like to be treated with respect and I am teaching my daughter she deserves the same.
I’ve told my daughter that a guy will go as far as a girl will let him, and it’s up to her to set limits and physical boundaries. Moms, ask your daughter, often, how far she has gone with boys. I know it’s an uncomfortable conversation, but if you don’t ask you can rest assured her friends are asking. And her friends are not going to encourage her to stop and treasure her body like you will!
8. An Example ~ Our daughters are watching. They are monitoring our every move to see how we dress, how we talk, how we treat our husbands, how we handle stress, everything. I can honestly say I have failed in each of these areas more often than I want to admit. The thing is, our daughters need us moms to be quick to admit when we’ve made a mistake. Apologizing for harsh words and bad attitudes is one of the best ways to establish trust in the mother-daughter relationship.
9. A Lot of
Tampons Understanding ~ It’s no joke that three women pms’ing at the same time is a recipe for some sort of disaster in our house. I usually try to make sure that there is an unlimited supply of tampons, pads, and Advil for those episodes in the month when hormones are raging and emotions are out of control. Moms, take a deep breath, buy some chocolate, watch a sad chick-flick, and try to remember you were a hormonal teen once and this too shall pass.
10. A Mom ~ I told my daughter early on that I was not put on this earth to be her friend. She has lots of friends. I was put here to be her mom. She only has one of those. I know, I know, some moms want to be the “cool” mom and fit in with their daughter’s crowd. Moms…get over yourselves and please, for the love of God, step up to the parenting plate and be responsible. Yes, moms need to know who her daughter’s friends are and what they’re into but the minute mom starts trying to relive her youth by fitting in with her daughter’s crowd, respect is lost.
It’s my cracked conclusion that being a mom is one of the most significant and demanding jobs on the planet and our brokenness makes it even more of a challenge. Whether or not we are raising boys or girls, a mom’s roll in the life of her child is to protect, nurture and mature them into the men and women God has intended them to be so we can all enjoy better lives and better connections.