The way I see it, I’m about halfway done with parenting teenage daughters.
There are many, many positive moments in parenting teenage girls. We can share shoes and jewelry and hair styling instruments (clothes, not so much). They can be very helpful around the house. Each one is developing into her own individual person with a sense of humor and the ability to carry on meaningful conversations. I love watching them participate in sports and fine arts, and seeing how they continue to develop new interests.
But over the past several years, I’ve figured out some ways I shouldn’t go about this parenting teenagers deal. How do I know about these mistakes? I’ve made them all. I’m experiencing this times two on a daily basis. More than anything, this is a list for me to refer back to over the second half of this parenting teens season!
1. Don’t ask too many questions all at once.
I’ve found that I can usually get away with asking two or three questions before I begin to sound like an interrogator. However, I might be able to circle back and throw out a question related to the same topic later on and get a decent response.
Also, non-specific questions such as “How was your day at school?” get no real conversation flowing here. It usually works better if I ask about a specific thing that I know was happening that day, such as “Did you get that class project finished on time?”
Now this does depend on the personality of your child. Some like to give blow-by-blow details of the day, and are happy to answer any questions you might have. Others just keep most of their thoughts to themselves. I’ve got one on each side of the spectrum.
2. Don’t continue to treat her like a little girl.
Okay, so she’ll still act like a little girl at times, but she is growing up. She needs to accept responsibility and, along with that, be granted some new freedoms as she proves herself trustworthy. She can have a later bedtime, handle getting herself up in the morning with an alarm clock, etc.
3. Don’t minimize her feelings.
Yes, whatever is causing her world to fall apart may seem unimportant to you, but it’s a big deal to her. She may not want to hear, “I know just how you feel” because likely, you don’t. You may have experienced something similar, but it’s probably not exactly what she’s feeling.
I’m trying to learn to just listen, to not offer advice unless I’m asked for it. It’s rare that a daughter wants me to fix something. She usually only wants to talk it through.
4. Don’t respond in the heat of the moment.
If your daughter is worked up about something – and especially if she’s upset with you – it almost never does any good to deal with the situation until she’s calmed down. And usually I need time to calm down, too. Much more will be accomplished if we both retreat to our private spaces, and reconnect a little bit later.
5. Don’t feel like you have to answer a request immediately.
It’s okay to say, “Let me think about that” when a child asks to do something or go somewhere, and you’re unsure about what to say. You may need a little while to pray about it, talk to your spouse, or find out more about the situation.
6. Don’t get drawn into the drama.
Be the adult. Yes, you are one (and she’s not – yet), so prove that when a drama-filled situation arises. My initial reaction is to jump right into the middle of it along with her, but that doesn’t help anyone. SO much easier said than done. (And my husband is much better at this than I am!!)
7. Don’t be afraid to stand your ground when you’ve said “no.”
If our teenagers suddenly took our “no’s” sweetly and submissively, would we even know how to react? Sometimes they’re going to grumble and complain. Or they may keep trying to suggest a work around that we’ll accept. I’m of the opinion that we should say “yes” as often as we can, but when we give a well-thought-out “no,” we should stand by it.
8. Don’t forget to say “I love you” and “I’m proud of you” as often as you can.
Make it a priority. That is all.
9. Don’t think she doesn’t need you anymore.
My 16-year-old just packed for an overnight trip. I didn’t have to get down a bag, think about what type of clothes she needed, or do a final check to make sure she had her toothbrush. She can wash her own clothes and drive a car. She works a job and she’s understanding chemistry without me (praises be!!)
But I know she still needs a mom. A lot of times that just means being around in case she wants to talk, going to the store to pick up that notebook she needs for school, or surprising her with a frappuccino at the end of a hard school day.
10. Don’t neglect praying for her.
Prayer is our most powerful weapon against the temptations our daughters will face. It’s also what my heart needs as I struggle to be the mom I should be when our relationship seems less than ideal. Only the Holy Spirit can grow her heart into loving Jesus more. And He’s the only one who can manifest His fruit in me to be an example I’d want her to follow.
If you would add another “don’t” to this list, please share it in the comments below! I’ve got just over five years left with a teenage girl in the house, and I’ll take all the help I can get!!
7 Ways to Show Love to Your Teenage Daughter
A Letter to My Teenage Daughter: God Made You Special
10 Bible Verses for Teens to Memorize
What a great list! And so many of these things are applicable to younger children, too, especially not minimizing their feelings (my goodness! the drama over such insignificant — to me — things!) and standing by your “no.”
Thanks, Nikki! My husband (jokingly) said that I couldn’t write any more parenting posts for awhile since it always seems to mean we have “issues” with our children any time I publish a new one 🙂
I love this list Tracey! We have 3 teenage girls and it is a whole different ball game than little ones. I still love to communicate with them and discover how they think about certain things. Yes, teenage years have their charmes!
I agree ~ plenty of charm along with the challenges!! 🙂 Thanks for stopping by my blog and taking the time to comment!
Jeanette Norman says
The only thing I would add to your great list is don’t try to fix all their problems, this is girls and boys alike. They need guidance but in order for them to grow and learn they have to be problem solvers. Give them tools but let them do the work💗💙
That’s a great addition to the list! It’s tempting to take over and solve the issue for them, but they learn so much more when they’re the ones who have to come up with a solution.
Imma teenage girl and would kill to have a mom… I look at these to wonder! It’s just me and my dad but he’s awesome
It sounds like you have a great relationship with your dad – thankful to hear that! I hope that God will bring into your life a woman who, even though she may not be your mom, can love, encourage, and bless you.
Thank you for reading the post. I’m on the mom side of things, so it’s nice to hear from a teenager!
Thank you so much for sharing!!! I have not out grown “my teenage” girls yet. They are both young adults attending the community college while staying home. I agree 100 % with all you said, but one thing I would add is to learn each ladies love language. I have one that is a hugger and another that loves special things done for her. No matter how old their body’s are somewhere in there are my baby girl’s.
Thank you for taking the time to comment! Yes, being able to communicate with our children in their love language can be very effective. And I love the thought that my baby girls’ are still there underneath all the “grown-up-ness!” 🙂
Have a wonderful day!
This is a great list! I would add that it is so important to have FUN with my girl! She needs to see me having fun with her and we need to laugh together, so that when we disagree or when I have to stand on my “no” – there’s enough capital in her bank account that our relationship survives.
That is a great point!! I love how you framed it – “capital in her bank account.”
Thanks so much for taking the time to comment and share your input!
Kaitlyn Brown says
What a great list!! We are just on the brink of entering teenage-dom in our household and it’s like a whole new ball game with new rules! I really appreciate the “be there to listen not to solve”. I easily forget this one, as there was so much more solving when she was little. She’s so much more independent now and I have to remind myself it’s helpful for her if I can let her struggle with something and figure it out on her own terms (if it’s appropriate of course!).
For the record, I don’t think posting about parenting indicates you have problems! 😉 I think it’s a great reflection that there are common experiences to navigating family life!
I love the way you put that – “there are common experiences to navigating family life.” So very true!
Trust that the teenage years will bring much joy to your family!! I’ve found God faithful to give wisdom, peace, and guidance as we parented our daughters, and know that He’ll do the same for you.
Thanks for stopping by the blog and taking time to comment!
Don’t get overly involved in her choice of friends but don’t be shy to recommend a different choice also. Respect her decision.
That sounds like a good balance. Which friends our teens choose to hang out with can definitely be a hot-button topic! It’s yet another area where praying for them to have wisdom and discernment is one of our best tools as moms.
I agree to a degree … don’t be afraid to have boundaries with certain “friends” who could be toxic to your child either. Let’s remember these are still children and are still learning to make good decisions. Sometimes they don’t see the harm in certain things that could really be leading them down a dangerous path. Sometimes we have to just say no to certain friendships.
I would agree with that. In fact, my husband and I once found ourselves in that very situation with one of our daughters. We had more restrictions than usual on a particular friendship because of things we observed that were concerning to us.
That is refreshing to hear … so many parents feel that children have the right and ability to make their own decisions in all matters and that is just not so. I believe that you have to give them room to grow and make mistakes, but when I see my children need guidance, I am definitely intervening!
I like the way you put that – “room to grow and make mistakes.” A little leeway is good, as they will hopefully learn and grow from those mistakes. But yes, as parents, we pray for discernment and then step in when we feel it’s necessary.
Do you recommend and mother daughter Bible lessons to help bring us closer? This was the BEST POST INHAVE READ!
Thank you for your kind words! I haven’t personally used a mother-daughter devotional with my girls, but I think studying the Bible together is always a great thing!! Since I haven’t used one myself, I don’t have a particular study to recommend, but I know Amazon has several available to purchase. Lifeway and Christian Book Distributors likely have them as well. Or if you don’t want to do anything that formal, you and your daughter could just choose a verse/passage to read and discuss.
Thanks for stopping by the blog and taking the time to comment!
Wonderful article!! Been there, done that, learned the hard way to do better next time!!
Could add the following:
1) Don’t forget you’re NOT perfect. Never have been, never will be.
You will make mistakes; just accept it and be humble enough to admit it when you do and offer the necessary apology. Your daughter needs to see you do this. It’s excellent to model this behavior for your daughter.
2) Don’t expect her to be perfect. Maybe her pictures are perfect, but she is as human as you are. Differentiate among honest mistakes, silly goofs that are thoughtless but are not meant to do harm, outright defiance, and behaviors that are manipulative and/mean. Titrate consequences accordingly. Like maybe she was playing around and broke something that was important to you; the behavior was careless, and maybe she should be required to replace it or if not possible find something that she knows will be meaningful to you or her sister or whomever it belonged. Totally different if she goes to the item and tosses it at the wall because she is angry, breaking it on purpose. The item should be replaced but also loss of trust privileges should both be enacted.
3) Don’t hold grudges. Forgive her when things happen and move on to enjoy the awfully FUN person your daughter is! She needs to see you model this behavior too.
I love what you’ve added to the list, Carla!! Number 3 is one I need to be reminded of often…moving past offenses and enjoying my daughters right at the ages they are.
Thanks for taking the time to read and comment here! Have a wonderful day!!
I have 4 kids that are in their 20’s and a 12 year old. The one thing I’ve learned is to never compare my kids to each other or anyone else for that matter. Finding their special talents and what separates them from everyone else makes them feel special and not ever demeaned! Thanks for your great advice! Much appreciated.
That is great advice!! I tried to do the same, not comparing our girls, especially with each other. Accepting their individual strengths and weaknesses and doing your best to parent to those is a wonderful gift that we can give them.
Thanks so much for reading and for taking the time to comment!