Parenting is nothing you expected and everything you could have imagined all rolled into one. I have been spit up on, pooped on, vomited on all before 7 a.m. in the newborn years. I’ve watched my toddler shove a pearl up her nose and poop in her mouth, and I’ve even masticated food. Not as fun as it sounds. I’ve survived breast buds and the sex talk. I share everything I ever learned and you might want to know about parenting from pregnancy to labor thru to the teens years. It’s is hard but it’s the toughest job that you’ll ever love but the salary sucks.
I’m officially the mom of a tween girl and a teen girl and honestly, I’ve been afraid of raising teenage girls ever since I was a teenage girl. Hormones make teenage girls feel crazy and I was awful in so many ways. I occasionally read my old diaries to remind myself that I was the worst. This allows me to have some patience with my own teenage girl.
Don’t get me wrong, I got straight A’s and I didn’t smoke or drink or do drugs but I was driving at 13 and going to clubs in downtown Chicago since I was 14. But it was very innocent because I was so naïve. I know how ridiculous it sounds.
We’ve hit that point in raising teenage girls where I can’t say, “When I was your age…” because I’ll be ratting myself out and giving them too many bad ideas. I would die if Bella wanted to drive my car or, heaven forbid, asked to go to a club in the city. I’d be too worried. Apparently, I am way less cool than my mom must have been. I want to tell my girls to keep singing at the top of their lungs when the rest of the world tells them to be quiet. That’s the kind of mom I want to be.
What were my parents thinking? Maybe I didn’t even ask. Maybe I bent the truth as to where I was going and what I was doing. I can’t even remember. I’m sure my teen brain rationalized it somehow. I just know I was doing a lot of things that could have gone really terribly and been pretty dangerous, only I was too stupid and pumped up on hormones to realize it.
READ ALSO: Dear Me: A Love Letter to my 13-Year-Old Self
My youth was not misspent, it was very much lived and I have no regrets but the thought of my girls doing some of the things that I did, scares the hell out of me. I’ve spent some time reflecting on what it really means to be raising teenage girls and figuring out how to get through this phase with our relationship intact and without them doing anything that puts their lives in too much extraneous danger.
Here are my tips for raising teenage girls (and tween girls) that I’ve learned so far.
Let them be who they are meant to become.
You have to stand back to give them space to make mistakes and not judge them and tell them that you told them so. You’re a parent so your main job is to love unconditionally and support them, even when they don’t make the choice you would’ve recommended. The difficulty of this task is not lost on this reformed helicopter mom.
As a mom, for the past 13 years, I’ve had to learn to lose the sarcasm and learn to speak more positively. Thankfully, for all of us, I was getting my Masters in Elementary Education when I got pregnant with Bella and so I had a couple years of actual courses that taught me how to interact with small children. Positive reinforcement is always better than punishment, so moms, always look for the sunny side, even in the teen years.
Remember to breathe and count to ten.
This one is hard for me sometimes. Patience is not something that comes naturally to me. I am very much a speak first then think kind of person. But, especially since entering the tween years, I’ve made it a point to stop and step back for a moment before reacting. That doesn’t always work because I’m a human but just the fact that I am cognizant of the situation helps me to react better to my girls.
READ ALSO: How to Talk to your Tween about Everything
See past the eye rolls.
Oh, the amount and severity of eye rolls that I have endured while on my journey to raising teen girls has been head spinning. I find this tween/ teen habit to be particularly offensive but I try to remember how often I rolled my eyes at my parents (and still do to people on a daily basis) and I try not to be too offended. I know it’s not personal, teen girls think everyone and everything is stupid. This is their defense for when they don’t understand, don’t approve or don’t know what else to say. I’m not even sure they know they are doing it anymore so don’t take it personally and if you can, ignore it. Easier said than done.
It’s good to have expectations but don’t force your agenda on them. You can’t relive your life through them.
Your teenage daughter is not your chance to relive your youth. Don’t force them to be who you were; who you wish you were or who you could never have been. My philosophy is that they are people and by the time they are teenagers, they have formed some thoughts and beliefs of their own. You have acquired wisdom from living through it already once so be there to guide them and offer advice but you cannot tell them what to like or enjoy. They are their own people. Let them be fierce.
These are my tips for raising teenage girls (and tween girls) that I’ve learned so far.
Well, I started writing this post and it ended up being very long, so I am making it a 3 part series. I will publish the rest of the 15 tips over the next weeks.