We’ve all been there: the eye rolls that threaten future sight, the room that looks like a bomb went off, the way they are glued to anything with a backlit screen. What happened to your little angel? Remember when she couldn’t wait to see you and give you a big sticky hug? Why won’t she talk to you in sentences that don’t end in a Telemundo sigh? All of these situations are completely normal, and there’s nothing wrong with her…or you.
The teenage years don’t come with a manual, but there are a few tips that make things go smoother:
- When your daughter rolls their eyes, it’s not bad. It’s what you’re making it mean about you that makes it bad. If you think eye rolls are disrespectful, and a reflection of how much more you need to crack the whip, you’re wrong. They roll their eyes at their friends. It’s a way of stepping into their own power; they are choosing what to believe and what not to believe. This can be a good thing. You don’t want your daughter to take everything at face value; you don’t want them to follow some cute player down a path, just because he spins a pretty line. Let her question and critique and come up with her own moral path, based upon your core family values. If the eye rolling bugs you, figure out why. Where are you exhibiting the same traits? If you don’t think she respects you; where are you not respecting yourself?
- If their messy room bugs you, I suggest you close the door. Do you really want to have every exchange with your teen be about where they are lacking in upholding your version of what’s right for you? The teen years are the time where your child molds their own version of right and wrong. My daughter’s messy room bugged me, because I feel better when things are organized; it allows me to focus easier. Since I want the best for my sweet girl, I used to harp on how much a messy space would mess with her mojo. I would suggest, hint and cajole then clean the room myself and yell at her for being irresponsible. What a waste of energy! So much better to let consequences teach the lesson. When she can’t find something important, she will make the choice to organize or not. It’s her choice.
- Her attachment to screens is a way to find her Pride (her support group, in lioness parlance). That doesn’t mean that you can’t set limits. If your family values are built around spending time together, then no cell phones at the dinner table. That means you, too, Mom! If your daughter is tired and unfocussed, then no cell phones after 9 p.m. (or whatever time fits your teen’s schedule) , so she can get to sleep without screen stimulation before bed; also, no social media during homework time. Base your rules on family values; be specific about the restrictions and the reasoning behind them; punish infractions in a way that feels good to you, and then LET IT GO!
- Your baby girl is still in there, and she will come back. The less you put pressure on the situation, the faster that will happen. Use the space she’s giving you as a gift of time to spend on self-care, instead of worrying about your lack of mommy/baby time.
- The two phrases that work the best with teens are:
I) Everything will be okay, and
II) How can I help? Say the former often, and let the latter be an invitation, not a mandate.
- Being goofy and making your teen laugh will lead to a more delicious connection than any other tactic based upon parenting columns or your Aunt Sadie’s advice.
All of these tips have worked beautifully for me, every time I remember to take a deep breath and use them. But most of all, just love them. Tell them every day how lucky you are to be their mom. They are perfect just as they are…with or without sticky kisses.
If you are having trouble with your teenage daughter, and need some help, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or pop your questions, concerns and ideas in the comments below.