Well, it happened. We moved our junior and freshman college students into their dorms on Saturday and said goodbye on Sunday afternoon. I guess that officially makes us empty nesters! I think I’m still in denial because I certainly don’t feel like an empty nester, but I’m sure it will hit me at some point soon.
Back at home, I’ve been cleaning their rooms and organizing what they left behind. I’m trying to maintain that balance of checking in with them to find out how things are going and letting them get the semester started without me hovering 🙂
Between our two girls, I’ve been parenting a teenage daughter for almost eight years. It seems like there’s still plenty I haven’t figured out. Yet there are lessons I’ve learned – many of them the hard way – that you might find helpful as you parent your own teen girl. Here I give you my list of eleven important things our teenage daughters need from us.
1. A listening ear
If she’s in a mood to share about her day – whether in excitement or frustration – listen. Sometimes you can tell that she wants your full attention. Other times she may seem more comfortable talking while she’s sitting at the kitchen counter and you’re chopping vegetables. Either way, take advantage of every opportunity to get a peek into her world.
2. A calm response
You may be able to traverse the seven years of female teenage-dom with no emotional outbursts from your daughter. If so, congratulations. If not, be the adult and stay calm. One or both of you may need to step away from the situation until you can talk it through objectively.
3. Assurance of your love
There may be days you don’t like her that much but she needs to know that you will always love her. Tell her as well as show her. (Here are seven ways you can show love to your teenage daughter.)
Tell her you’re proud of how hard she worked on that research paper or the way she resolved a misunderstanding with a friend. It’s easy to feel like her friends’ approval matters more than yours in these teen years, but she still needs to know that you notice and support her.
She needs to be able to tell you things and know that you will keep her confidence. Don’t share with others stories or situations that you know would embarrass her. (The obvious exception would be if her struggle is one that requires help beyond what you can provide.)
6. Firm boundaries
This one is hard because teenagers love to push up against boundaries. I don’t think I did this well in every area, but there were some lines that didn’t get crossed. She likely won’t admit it, but your daughter finds security in boundaries.
She should feel like she can come and talk to you about anything. As she gets older, be willing to discuss new freedoms as she approaches you with a reasonable request in a mature manner. Cultivate adult discussions that help you understand each other’s viewpoint.
Teens are well on their way to becoming adults and they can see through insincerity. Your daughter lives with you 24/7. She knows that you blow it sometimes, so be honest about your struggles.
I’ve written a lot about this! Here’s 10 Prayers to Pray for Your Daughter as well as 3 Prayers to Pray As We Learn to Let Go of Our Teenagers. Our girls need us to pray for them – and make sure you tell her that you’re praying for her!
10. Perspective for the future
Teens live for now. They don’t often think about the long-term consequences of the decisions they make today. So have conversations with them about how they want their lives to look in six months, a year, two years. Encourage them to set themselves up for success later by making good choices in the present.
11. Freedom to become who God wants her to be
Sometimes we have our own agenda for our children. And while it’s fine to want good things for them, our most important goal should be for them to follow God’s plan for their lives. Let’s not put expectations on our daughters to choose a certain career or live just down the street from us. Let one of your prayers be that she would become all that God has for her to be, whatever that looks like.
Parenting a teenage daughter can be fun and challenging and may look different today than it did yesterday! Let’s encourage our girls by providing what they need as they grow through their teen years. And let me know what else you would add to this list!
- How to Give Your Teenage Daughter Her Independence
- Top 10 Things I Love About Having Teenage Daughters
- A Letter to My Teenage Daughter: I Think One Day You’ll Understand