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The Truth about Parenting Teenagers from a Teen Mom, teen mom, parenting teenagers, parenting teenage girls, raising teens

Ok folks, this is not a drill. We are in full teen mom mode. We’re over here parenting teenage girls. Well, a champion eye roller tween with cramps and a newly minted 14-year-old so the end is nigh and all of that, I suppose. At least that is what the world would have you believe about parenting teenagers but it’s a lie.

Obviously, no teen parenting experience is the same just like no birth or the first day of kindergarten is the same. I feel like maybe I should knock on some wood before I type this post. You know how fate likes to make fools of us all. But, dare I say, I kind of love parenting my tween and teenage girls possibly even more than when they were toddlers.

I’m in that point of parenting where I have to be the adult. Yep, either I act like an adult or this train derails. Now, I’m not saying that means that I need to go hard and fast on the discipline. Doing that would only make that train jump the tracks. Believe me, I’m talking from experience. No, I’m playing the long game, as I have since they were toddlers, and I’m following my gut. That’s the real trick to winning the parenting teens game. No matter how hard they push you away, if your gut tells you something, listen. Your mama and papa instincts are smarter than you are.

READ ALSO: Tips for Raising Teenage Girls Pt. 1

Sometimes, it’s hard looking at an overgrown child with their own thoughts and beliefs and not giving them what they want. Teens like their space. They value friendships above all else. I know this from being a teen myself. Now, that I am a teen mom, I am trying to keep all of this in mind. I listen, even when I find it mundane or infuriatingly contradictory because we need to hear what our teenage girls and boys are saying to us. They really aren’t much different from their toddler selves in terms of what they need from us. They need love, compassion, guidance and understanding not a punishing dictator, even if we do know better. Like my mother always told me, you catch more flies with honey than vinegar.

Keep in mind that your teenage son or teen daughter is still that beautiful little human being that they laid on your chest and you brought home from the hospital. That tiny, helpless human being that you loved more than life itself is still right there inside of the angry kid, bickering with her sister and talking back to you. Remember when your teen was a baby and he cried out in frustration because he couldn’t communicate his needs to you and you had to use your mom superpowers and figure it out? It’s the exact same thing. They need you, the world is new and scary again, and they don’t know how to tell you or ask you for what they need.

READ ALSO: Tips for Raising Teenage Girls Pt. 2

The thing is society has played a cruel joke on all of us. They’ve falsely made us all believe that once our kids are a certain age/size that they are capable of doing almost everything. We expect them to behave accordingly. This, in turn, makes our children believe that when they are a certain age/size they are expected to know everything. Secret: They don’t know and how can they? We’re not done raising them. They still need all of our unconditional love, understanding, patience, guidance and compassion; probably now more than ever.

I liken it to when my girls were little. They were always off the charts, size wise, so people always expected them to be further ahead in their developmental skills. I distinctly remember one occasion when Bella was just over one (she was easily the size of a 3 or 4-year-old) and we were in the grocery store and Bella was talking baby talk to me and an older woman came up to us and very condemningly said, “Shouldn’t she be “using her words”?” I nearly swallowed my tongue but managed not to hit the woman and squeak out, “She is using her words. She’s one.” I knew from that moment on that I would spend my parenting tenure being my child’s advocate and to do that, I needed to communicate with my children openly and honestly to really know what they needed from me.

READ ALSO: Tips for Raising Teenage Girls Pt. 3

I’ll be honest, parenting a teenager is not that different from parenting a toddler. The key is paying attention (even when they make it difficult), giving them grace and space when they need it (not always when they want it) and as angry as they can make you, remember growing up is hard on them too. They are afraid and feeling like they’ve lost their place in the world. Everything they knew up to this point is changing, including their own bodies and minds. Give them wings to fly but be there to catch them when they start to crash and burn. Most importantly, keep talking to them, keep listening and look past the angst and anger façade…your baby is still in there.

Tips for Parenting Teenage Girls from a Teen Mom

Unconditional Love

Always, every day, no matter what love them like you loved that baby they laid on your chest. They are still in there hiding behind the eye rolls, smart mouth and pimples. No matter how big they get, they still need positive affirmations and love. Give hugs and keep telling them you love them. Maybe just not in public as much as when they were in kindergarten.

Communication

Talk to them. Not just when you think they did something stupid but all day every day. More importantly, listen. When they talk, they are trying to tell you something even if they don’t have the words. Read between the lines. Fight for them like you did before they were taller than you. Let them say whatever they need to say to you, try to keep your cool and see through their own insecurities and fear. Be there.

Patience

Count to ten before you scream at them. I know that you are tired of them looking at you like you are the dumbest person on earth. I know it breaks your heart when they look at you like you are a stranger on the street. Don’t allow them to be disrespectful or cruel but remember sometimes they are having a bad day. Maybe someone at school was being cruel or unkind, give them the benefit of the doubt. Try not to tell them you hate them ( even if in that moment maybe you do). Remember hate the sin not the sinner? Be patient, the child you couldn’t get enough of is inside that teenage girl smacking her lips and thinking she knows everything and soon enough, you’ll be needed as her soft place to land.

Understanding

This one is hard because teenagers can be frustrating and infuriating and sometimes you just don’t want to rise above it. Sometimes you want to get down in the dirt with them and make them cry to give them a taste of their own medicine. Don’t do that.  That’s what bathrooms are for, go cry in private. Don’t fall apart. You need to be the adult.

When your teen girl tells you something that you don’t want to hear (she’s thinking about having sex or she drank at a party) you need to remember you were her not so long ago. Then ask yourself, what will yield a better outcome 1) screaming at her with full disappointment and having her never tell you anything again or 2) listening, recognizing that she is becoming a young adult and these are young adult issues and calmly offering advice and guidance? I think you know the right answer. It’s hard. No one wants to have these conversations with their “child” but this is how they learn to do the right thing and be kind humans, from our sacrifice of weighing in on these topics when we’d really prefer to just lock them in their rooms and keep them safe until they go to college.

Listening

Use your voice of reason, stop talking and listen to the words coming out of their faces. Will it always be what you want to hear? NO! Do you need to hear it? Hell YES! As parents, just because we don’t hear something doesn’t stop it from happening. It’s like not going to the doctor when you have cancer because you’re afraid of the diagnosis. Knowing the diagnosis is not what’s going to kill you, ignoring the symptoms and not getting treated is. Have the hard conversations and listen to everything they say because they are trying to tell you something you need to hear and maybe it could save their life.

Forgiveness

This is a big one. Wow! Teenagers can be cruel and have a biting tongue. They have a knack for going for the weak spots. It must be a defense mechanism against bullying that kicks in with the hormones at puberty. While most won’t dare use it against their peers, they will easily use it on the people who will always love them, their parents. Keep in mind, the teen years are only 7 years of their entire lifetime, don’t punish them or hold grudges against them for what they say or do as teens. Discipline as needed but also remember to dole out positive enforcement and random acts of kindness towards your teenage children, they need it more than anyone else. Let it go. Forgiveness is for both of you. Forgive yourself too for feeling like you’re failing. We all do in these years.

Guidance

Always be there to gently guide your teenagers in the right direction. Firstly, demonstrate good behavior by example. Just like toddlers, they tend to do what they see not what they are told. Next, you can’t force a strong-willed teen to do anything. You can but nobody wins. But you can gently nudge them in the right direction by limiting the choices available. They still need to feel like they have free will.

Make life more of a would you rather situation instead of a what would you do situation because the world is still too big for all of that responsibility. Also, be available to give feedback when asked. If they are talking to you, they might want you to give them your input. This allows them to make their own informed decisions rather than listening to just their peers. But this only works if you respect and value your child’s thoughts and opinions. We are teaching them to make good choices. You can’t just tell them. They have to learn to use logical thinking and decide for themselves.

Compassion

This is so important. Remember you were where they’re at, not so long ago. You didn’t always know everything. I still don’t. When your child messes up, listen to them and be there. Hold them. Help them get through it. Don’t chide and chastise them. Just love them and let them know that everyone makes mistakes and, unless someone’s dead, we’ll all get through it.

It sounds like a lot of rules but in the end, all you really need to do is follow your gut. Your mom intuition tells you when things aren’t right, even when your mind and heart don’t want to believe it. I’ll be here if you want to commiserate and compare notes. We’ll all survive.

 

 

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tweens, teens, Teen Girls Rebel when Teen Boys Rated Female Classmates on Looks, Teen Boys Rated Female Classmates on Looks, teen girls rebel, girls fight rape culture, #MeToo, Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School

You’ve heard of burn books? We all have. I remember in high school they were called slam books; same difference. Same jerky idea, different decade. Well, a group of high school boys at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School Maryland are bringing it back. But in the wake of the #MeToo movement, the girls are refusing to stand for it. Teen boys rated female classmates on looks and the teen girls rebel. They will no longer stay quiet. Like teenage superheroes, these girls fight rape culture.

Teen boys rating girls on their looks is a practice as old as time. For as long as men have been objectifying women, girls have been getting rated by their looks in burn books, slam books, bathroom walls and in guy group texts. It’s a national pastime for men and boys. The undiscriminating discriminatory act of objectifying the part of the population born with girl parts. It’s sickening.

This time the list is in an iPhone Notes app. It included the names of 18 girls in the Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School’s International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme, ranked and rated on the basis of their looks, from 5.5 to 9.4, with decimal points to the hundredth place. There, with a number beside it.

A number rating system for girls like they’re cattle being rated for purchase. A group of male students created the list over a year ago and it’s been recirculated. Spreading like a plague through text messages and whispers during class. One male student saw the name of his friend, Nicky Schmidt, on the list and told her about it. Within 24 hours, most of the senior girls knew about the list. Teen boys rated female classmates on looks and the girls are not having it.

READ ALSO: The Problem with Little Boys

In the past, tween and teen girls would see the list, hang their head in shame and pray no one brought it up again. It’s shameful. It’s one thing to feel ugly ( as we all do in those awkward years) but it’s quite another to have everyone at school to see your national ugly average rating in notes, much less hear it whispered as you walk through the halls. The thing about these sorts of lists is that it shakes even the most confident young women to their core. Even if you’ve always thought you were pretty, these books have a way of crawling into your psyche and taking root; growing, twisting and digging in.

As someone who suffered from eating disorders and was never sure of herself, at least in the looks department, finding myself in a burn book would have made me feel so isolated, unsure and depressed. As a grown woman, it would make me rage because of two things, 1) I know I’m attractive enough 2) I don’t care what anyone else thinks about how I look or think or exist. But this is as a grown woman, it took years to have this confidence.

Yasmin Behbehani, a student at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School, found herself ranked on this list after her friend, Nicky Schmidt, let her know about the list, as a heads up. But Behbehani didn’t want to know about this list. She was trying to stay in her lane; just trying to survive high school is hard enough without extracurricular  humiliation. She’d spent her entire high school tenure recovering from eating disorders and trying to avoid this kind of triggering comparison to her classmates but there is was in a text message with a screenshot of the list, typed out in the damn notes app.

These kinds of lists are not new. And they will never not exist. As long as boys are raised to objectify women with no real consequences they will continue to do so. But today is not yesterday, or last year, or the last decade. Today, we live in the world of #MeToo.

We are raising ours girls to not take this kind of treatment. Raising our girls to know there are more important things to be than beautiful and to speak up, no to scream, when we need to be heard. We’re empowering our little girls. We are not afraid of you any longer. You can’t demean us with your stupidity and objectification because we know we are more than our parts.

READ ALSO: Raising Girls to Survive Misogyny, Sexting and Slut Shaming

The girls of Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School felt violated, objectified by classmates they thought were their friends. They felt uncomfortable getting up to go to the bathroom, worried that the boys were taking notes and editing their scores.Objectification feels horrible; judged at your very existence.

The things that no one counted on in this “boys will be boys” rape culture that we live in is that  there is power in numbers. Dozens of senior girls spoke to the school administration and to the boys, demanding not only disciplinary action in response to the list but a school-wide discussion about the toxic culture that allowed the list to happen in the first place. This resulted in one male student being given an in-school detention for one day. It wouldn’t even be on his record.

Not happy with the disciplinary action, Schmidt texted 15 friends and told them to tell all of their friends to show up at the school’s office the next day during lunch, “to tell them we feel unsafe in this environment and we are tired of this toxicity,” Schmidt wrote in her text. 40 senior girls showed up, packing into the assistant principal’s office where Schmidt read a statement she had written.

We want to know what the school is doing to ensure our safety and security,” Schmidt said. “We should be able to learn in an environment without the constant presence of objectification and misogyny.”

READ ALSO: The Reality of Being Born a Woman

The girls and administration agreed that to have a meeting with the male students in the program, including the assholes who created and circulated the list. On International Women’s Day, almost all of the students in the IB program — about 80 students — met in a large conference room for what was supposed to be a 45-minute meeting during fifth period. It lasted over 2.5 hours.

The girls shared personal stories and impassioned speeches about how the list made them feel. They shared their stories of sexual abuse, harassment and the lasting effects objectification has had on them. And something miraculous happened, the boys heard them. In fact, the boy who created the list stood up, took responsibility for the list and apologized for the hurt the list caused. I am so proud of the girls for uniting and standing up and demanding that their voices be heard. Silence is the enemy of equality.

The thing this isn’t new and the kid who made the list and the ones who passed it around are not the minority. The girls who spoke up and refused to be treated like this, they are the minority in our culture. We need to make doing the right thing easier and more common. It shouldn’t be this hard for women to be treated like humans. We shouldn’t have to fight for a basic human right like being treated like people and not objects.

What will we do next time we find out teen boys rated female classmates on looks? Where will we be when our teen girls rebel?

To be honest, since the #MeToo movement began, I have shared my own stories. I shared them before but I never realized that men don’t actually understand what it feels like to be a woman and be objectified. They have always been bigger, stronger and more privileged than women. They’ve always lived in a boys will be boys culture and they’ve watched, from the time they were little boys, the world apply different rules for women and girls. Boys assault women in so many ways and all they get is a slap on the wrist, even from women. But no more.

Since the day they were born, we’ve been raising our girls to respect themselves and to value no one’s opinion over their own. I’ve taught them that no means no and if they have to scream that, then do so. We’re raising our girls to be brave and determined. They know that they are as good as any man and in some instances, even better.

This generation of moms is raising an army of feminists ready to do battle for their human respect, equality and dignity. If you can’t get on board with that, that’s your problem. It’s happening. Be ready for it. Don’t stand in their way. This is their future and their worth is more than any ranking a man could ever give them.

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slut shaming, sexting, misogyny, shaved, Mean girls, raising girls, hair, shaving, waxing, self-esteem

The things we have to talk to our children and teens about these days is intense. I never remember my mom talking to me directly about misogyny, slut shaming, rape or even consent. She definitely didn’t talk to me about sexting because it didn’t exist. I remember my dad adamantly telling me to respect myself and my body and to stand up for myself. Maybe that was the 80’s version of the same thing I’m talking to my girls about. My dad has a black belt in karate and he taught us all how to throw a punch so maybe he was prepping me for the real world, in his own indirect way.

I grew up and knew that I wanted to have a very open dialogue with my children, especially when they hit those difficult, awkward teen years. By the way, all kids are awkward at this age so it’s not just your kid. They all need a little TLC during the teen years when they can sometimes be at their most unlovable. Just remember all of that angst is probably masking insecurity.

READ ALSO: Parent Guide to Teen Slang Words

Lately, I’ve had to have some very direct conversations that I never thought I’d have to have. The two I most thought I’d never have to have a direct conversation about are misogyny (it’s not you, it is definitely them) and slut-shaming (it’s never ok to be a part of that problem). Thanks to modern politics and the trickle-down effect, it has had on our community, it’s been necessary to explain to my daughters that it’s never ok for any man to treat you like you are a less valuable human being because of what’s between your legs.

Women are 100% equal to men, as we are all human beings. The only thing that elevates a person’s worth in the world is the way in which they conduct themselves and interact with others. We should be measured by our contributions, not our sex.

Thanks to a prevalent case of moral superiority that seems to permeate the circle they have found themselves surrounded by, I’ve had to jump to the rescue of strangers for making questionable moral choices. At this age, everyone is a critic and the higher the number of kids judging, the worse the criticism. I’ve always told my girls that they should live their own best lives and do good in the world but we don’t judge others because their life choices are between them, their conscience and their God.

READ ALSO: When Misogyny Speaks the World Listens

Do I want my daughters to grow up and make questionable moral choices? Of course not, but do I want them to live a full life? Yes. So maybe that means they make some choices that I wouldn’t make or they take chances that I would have discouraged them from making. Will we always see eye to eye? Definitely not. My girls have free will and I wouldn’t change that.

I’m not particularly excited about watching them fail or get hurt and I will always be there to pick up the pieces and kiss the booboos, no matter how old they get, but I can’t live their life for them. This is why we have to have the hard talks. This is why I’ve been talking to my girls about sex, misogyny, and respecting themselves and their bodies since they were toddlers. You have to start these conversations when they are young.

We’re at a particularly uneasy part of childhood; the part where they are not quite children and not quite adults. They are naïve, hearts wide open, full of hormone fluctuations and walking around looking like adults.

Ever wonder why our teens make the choices they do? Something, not so much shocking as unexpected, happened at my daughters’ school recently and I found myself shocked that in this day and age a kid would make this poor choice because I thought all of us were having the same conversations with our kids. I sometimes forget how new the Internet really is. Sexting happened.

READ ALSO: Who is Protecting Our Daughters

Maybe it’s because I work in social media but my kids have known since before they were in school that the Internet is forever. Anything can be screenshot. Not everyone is who they appear to be online. Don’t measure your worth by how many likes, follows and “friends” you have. It’s all a smoke show. It’s fake and not seated in reality. But above all, it is forever and like the angry ghost of a crazy ex, it can haunt you forever so make good choices kids. Not all parents have this conversation even once with their children.

My girls have both had smartphones with parental controls since they were 9-years-old. We openly monitor their activity. We check their phones. They are only allowed an Instagram and Pinterest account, which they share. The accounts are monitored. Everything they post is monitored. There is no Finsta. I check their DMs. I block people. We’ve not made it taboo but the girls know that any time we could be watching so all I ask is that they respect themselves and not say anything on the Internet that they’d be embarrassed for their grandfathers to see.

Back to this sexting situation. A girl in 8th grade sent explicit unsolicited photos of herself to a boy she liked. He told his mom but not before consulting his friend. He sent the picture to his friend and the friend sent it to a group chat. The mom went to the school to tell on the girl. The police are now involved because this is the distribution of pornography involving a minor. As if this is not horrible enough of a situation, the 8th-grade girls are shunning her and one girl pointed at her in the presence of my daughter and called her a “slut.”

READ ALSO: Good Girls and Double Standards

My daughter shut it down because I’ve taught my girls that we never slut shame. It’s not our business to judge anyone, especially another woman, because of a momentary lapse in judgment or even if someone outright chooses to be promiscuous. I feel bad for this girl. She has to live with this choice and I’m sure that’s not easy. I’m not sure how you recover from something like this in a Catholic school where everything they do is seeping with moral superiority and virtue.

For me, I don’t understand why she chose to do this but maybe her parents never explained that anything you put out into the world digitally lives on forever. Maybe she was just so desperate for the attention that her judgment was clouded. Or maybe she just didn’t fully realize the weight of her actions until after she hit send. Either way, she made a choice and now, unfortunately, it will follow her.

I’d also like to point out that we live in a world where girls feel like they need to share these kinds of photos to capture a guy’s attention. Girls are objectified from very young ages. She’s not the only one who participated in this situation, she may have sent the photos but the boy could have deleted them. He didn’t need to share them with anyone and the kid who shared those private photos with the entire group chat, in my opinion, is the most culpable.

READ ALSO:  Love Letter to My Daughter

My girls were shocked by the behavior of the girl who sent the texts, the boys who shared them and the girls who are now doing the shunning. My oldest is feeling disillusioned by her friends. But I explained to her that these are just growing pains and it’s also a good dose of reality and a lesson in consequences.

Like my dad, I am saying to my girls respect yourselves, do good, make good choices and stand up for what you believe. Misogyny and slut shaming may be something our society tolerates but it doesn’t have to be. It starts with individuals choosing to do better, choosing kindness and compassion over judgment and cruelty. As parents, we need to remember that even when our teens don’t want us, they still need us and we need to see past their eye-rolling and exasperation and step in if necessary. They’ll get over it.

How do you teach your girls to survive sexting, slut-shaming and misogyny?

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tips for raising teenage girls, teenage girls, Signature swing park, Boston

It’s summertime and I’ve been spending a lot of time in close quarters with my tween and teenage girls. Not going to lie, being present all the time for girls this age is challenging ( they have a lot to say, all the time) but if you can just listen through the noise that surrounds all the very important things they are trying to tell you, you will find that these young ladies are pretty freaking amazing.

Not in a hokey, sugary sweet way but in a fierce, no none sense, stand up, speak up soul beauty that sees love and wonder in the world. Teenage girls intuitively seek the good and they are not taking the other bull ish. These girls are powerful and they have voices they are not afraid to use and I’d like to think we, the women who came before them; their mothers, sisters, grandmothers and aunts who busted their butts to be seen have empowered them to fight back. Maybe we couldn’t make the world exactly what they deserve but we’ve raised them to be fierce enough to survive it and continue the work to make the world better for their daughters.

tips for raising teenage girls, teenage girls, Signature swing park, Boston

READ ALSOTips for Raising Teenage Girls and Not Damaging Your Relationship Part 1

Teenage girls are by far the most powerful force and resource our world has to offer. They are change makers and a force to be reckoned with. As parents, we have to ensure that they never lose that. I want to lift my girls up to always keep that fire burning inside of them. I never want them to be afraid to speak their truth. I want them to know that their words, thoughts, beliefs and ideas are important and worth being heard.

“If you have something worth saying, stand up and tell your truth. Never be afraid to speak up and stand up for what’s important to you!” My dad taught me this. ” Where there is a will, there is a way. You can be and do anything you want to if you are willing to work for it. No dream is too big.” My mom taught me this. These are words that carry me through my life. These are the gifts I want to give my girls and all the little girls and teenage girls and women of the world. “You are amazing and you are stronger than you know. You can do anything you want to. You are worth it. Don’t let anyone else steal your joy. The only person you need to make happy is you. You have to live with the woman in the mirror. Be your best version of you. Nobody’s opinion counts.”

tips for raising teenage girls, teenage girls, Signature swing park, Boston

These are  my tips for raising teenage girls and not damaging your relationship Part 3

Teach them respect; of others and most importantly of themselves.

My dad was all about respect and I never fully understood his obsession with his need for us to be respectful. He wanted us to respect ourselves and respect others, especially our parents. Then, I realized that the respect you have for yourself sets the bar for how others treat you. If you don’t respect yourself enough to make good choices and be willing to walk away from people who don’t respect you, you will never be able to live your best life. You will be at the mercy of other people’s opinions of you. Treating others with respect is a reflection of who you are as a human being. I teach my girls to treat everyone with human decency but reverent respect has to be earned. Parents you also need to remember to respect your teenage girls. They need to feel like they have a say. They are no longer toddlers, they are an active part of the family and as such their thoughts and opinions do matter.

Let them know that you don’t give a damn what everyone else is doing.

I tell my girls daily, “I don’t care about other people’s kids.” I do. But my point is, if Claire wants to vape and send sexts to the entire 7th-grade male population, that does not make it ok or acceptable.  I’ve taught my girls since they were babies not to compare themselves to others so I hope it works out in the end. I know everyone feels peer pressure but I’m hoping that I’ve raised the girls with enough self-respect and confidence that the need to like themselves trumps the need for others to approve of who they are.

Family time.

This is so important. Teenage girls need family time. Don’t be fooled by the devil may care, self-absorbed persona they’ve taken on recently, they still need that touchstone of family. They need to be able to let down the façade of coolness that all teenage girls put up to fit in. They need time to be goofy and funny and imperfect with the people who will love them no matter what. These moments playing games, traveling, telling jokes, being silly, doing face masks or just watching movies or going for walks are where the memories are made. This is the downtime they need in their life to survive the stresses of being teenage girls.  It’s hard. Remember?

Limit screen time.

Not because you are mean and you hate devices but because time is precious and it’s moving a million miles a minute at this phase, give them space and respect their ideas but make sure they know how to interact socially with people face-to-face before you send them out into the world. So many children have their faces stuck in a device from toddlerhood, it’s just a symptom of the world we live in today but I refuse to let the girls be so digitally engaged that they are not physically engaged with the world around them. I want my girls to talk to people, look them in the eye and be present in those moments. You can’t do that when you are distracted by your phone, iPad, social media or the online world. I want them to live and act in the real world because those experiences with people, even the bad ones, are worth living.

Don’t be afraid.

Teenage girls can sense fear. Just kidding, they’re not bears.  But I do have to say, I am really loving this phase of raising teenage girls. Like I said it’s just begun but I feel that we are growing closer. I am the welcoming wagon for womanhood and I feel like I’m a pretty damn good party thrower. Just remember beneath all those gangly body parts, confused skin, hormones, and eye rolling is buried that newborn baby they laid on your chest all those years ago and they need you, even if it seems like on some days they don’t want you. Don’t be afraid just love the shit out of them, all day and every day. At the end of the day, you are doing the right thing.

READ ALSO: Tips for Raising Teenage Girls and Not Damaging Your Relationship Part 2

Well, these are the last of my Tips for Raising Teenage Girls and Not Damaging Your Relationship for now, what are yours?

 

 

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teenage girls, teens, raising girls, meghan trainor, mom, raising teens

Teenage girls get a bad rap. They are painted as moody, bitchy, argumentative creatures who are just plain mean, even cruel at times and above all else, they hate their mothers. I’m not sure that’s a true representation. I know being a teenage girl is difficult on a good day.

Now, I’ve never personally hated my mom. There was a brief moment in history when I thought I knew better than her and I was inclined to telling her so. I believe it the ages of 15-17. I talked back so much, it’s a wonder that I have any teeth left in my head. I was very willful and headstrong, as children becoming adults often are. I was one step above throwing tantrums.

My mom was a saint, aside for the occasional moments when she just couldn’t stand it anymore and would, without saying a word, push her bony knuckles into my thigh. Don’t feel sorry for me, I deserved much worse and now, I know what restraint it took to not say a damaging word to me.

I always wanted to skip that part of motherhood and to be honest, I was terrified of it. It was the part when my mom and I put some space between us, or rather I did. I took every word and look as a transgression from her. She really could do no right. Now I see, how hard she was trying. After all, when I was 17, she was a mother of 4 teenagers, a 10-year-old and a newborn. I don’t know how she managed and right now, I applaud her for not killing us all.

READ ALSO: My Daughter Loves Me; the In-Between Years

People warned me of what I had to look forward to when my own girls entered the teen years. I had nightmares of my sweet, loving daughters turning into gum smacking, eye rolling, ish talking monsters but mostly I feared the wedge it would drive in our relationship. Honestly, it’s been hovering like a rain cloud for their entire childhood. I think it’s part of why I’ve tried so hard to build an open, honest relationship with my girls. It’s what I always wanted with my own mom.

Don’t get me wrong, my mom and I were close. She’s one of my favorite people but I think we could have been closer had we clung to each other during the rough patch rather than have pushed one another away. Heated emotions allowed us to walk away. At the time, I think we both felt it was to cause less damage but in retrospect, it allowed for complacency. I realized some relationships are worth staying and fighting; the one with your mom is one of those.

Here I am many years later, entering the teen years again. This time I’m the mom. I’ve put in 13 years preparing both of us for this moment. It’s been work and consistency every single day. It’s meant having hard discussions, being completely open and not being perfect. It’s meant tears and hard choices but always my heart was looking to the long game. Every moment has been a teachable moment. There is no room for complacency in my motherhood.

I never know if I’m doing it right. Most of the time, it feels like I am doing it absolutely wrong. But then every so often, my daughters do something that validates everything I’ve been doing. It’s never big sweeping gestures. I don’t want those. Anyone can do those, it’s like going to church on Christmas. It comes in quiet moments in the form of unexpected words or actions that I’m not even sure are meant for me to see. It’s in the kind of human beings they are becoming but sometimes it’s more obvious but still just as powerful and meaningful and I find myself crying because I am moved.

READ ALSO: Tips for Raising Teenage Girls and Not Damaging Your Relationship

Why am I talking about this? Well, a couple weeks ago I was visiting my parents alone. No Big Guy and no girls. I actually got to be just a daughter for the first time in many years and it was glorious, but that’s a post for another time. Anyways, back to my story.

While I was at my parents’ house not being in charge and having all of my whims indulged, my phone dinged. I was mid-conversation with my mom. Ironically, it was my daughter. Wasn’t sure that I wanted to open the message because, honestly, I was in such a good mood and I just knew it was going to be the girls pulling me into an argument they were having or them trying to convince me to overrule a decision their father had made. I never do that by the way because marriage=solid front.

Anyways, against my better judgment, I opened the message from my teenage girl.

Did I mention this was during the last couple weeks of school so hell was breaking loose? The girls bickering had gotten out of control. It moved beyond simple arguing and tattling to a full contact sport and it was exhausting to watch and to mediate. This is one of those moments when I completely feel like I am failing at parenting. But, I can’t ignore my children. I opened the email and this is what I found.

Not going to lie. It made me cry. It made me puff out my chest. It made me feel all the feels and I immediately ran over to my own mom and showed her what an amazing granddaughter she has. She raised me, so she gets credit too. And I think we both felt all warm and fuzzy inside knowing that even if our relationship may have been strained for a few years, it made me the mom I am today. A teenager who randomly sends her mom this song for no reason at all, well, I’d say I’m doing something wrong…at least on that day.

Love your teenagers the way you loved your toddlers; same kid, different body. You keep putting that love out there, even when everyone wants to walk away and it’s easier, you keep momming that kid. You might not know it by looking at them when they’re ignoring you and rolling their eyes but they see you. They hear you. They love you and they know you love them unconditionally. P.S. It might kill me when they leave for college.

What has your teenage girl or teen boy done that’s surprised you?

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parenting misconceptions, parenting, tweens, toddlers

There are a lot of parenting misconceptions out there. Those parenting books don’t tell you the truth about what it’s really like to parent a living, breathing child. I think they write about parenting in theory. One of the biggest misconception is that children are supposed to meat some kind of quality standard, like a piece of USDA regulated meat. It’s not true. They are people, not products. If I hear one more new mom tell me what an asshole her toddler is I just might throw up. Look, I have compassion. I really do. I totally thought that my toddlers were both assholes of epic proportions and then they got a little older.

 

Thinking your toddler is an asshole is the same thing as thinking you are in love when you are 15. You really believe you are but you only think you are because you don’t know what they hell you are talking about. You haven’t experienced the real thing yet. The same way in high school you think everything is so important but really it is the most inconsequential shit that will ever happen to you.

Toddlers are not assholes this is just one of many parenting misconceptions.

Besides, takes one to know one, right? If you really want to know what an asshole is try having a conversation with an eye rolling tween. There is nothing (as of yet) that is more egregious in parenthood than having a full-grown person talk back to you, roll their eyes and walk away.

The worst part is that my “tween” might look like a big girl but she still has this tiny baby voice and still wants hugs and cuddles but when she’s done with you, she’s done with you. It’s all eye rolls and stomping and looks that say without words, “ You are the stupidest person alive!”, we really should renaming the “tween” years, the “cat” years.

I remember the toddler years. I remember being told, “ I hate you mommy” (I have a feeling that one might be making a come back.) I remember full on tantrums in the middle of the grocery store. I remember wanting to cry because my 2 and 4-year-olds were breaking me and crushing my soul. I had no sleep, the sleep I was getting was filled with kicks to the face and head butts and all day long I was to dance monkey dance. I was the walking dead. I remember their favorite word was, “NO!” The saving grace for them was that they were so damn cute and I just forgave them of all the terrible shit they did to me. And believe me, terrible twos is a myth it’s the threes and fours that you really have to watch out for.

But even with all of that, I remember the random hugs and kisses and all the, “I love you mommy” for no reason at all. I remember the nightly game of, “I love you more.” I remember tiny arms reaching for me like I was salvation and soft cuddles that made my heart explode. I remember all of that. I never forget that.

My theory is this, kids are born so ugly that they are cute and we have so much love for them that it almost kills us. The thought of losing them is crushing and losing one can nearly kill you, at the very least makes you wish you were dead. Then they become toddlers and they do become little terrorist assholes but they are now so cute and have those cute voices and say the sweetest things that we forgive them all their transgressions.

As they enter preschool and elementary school, we love them so much it is almost unbearable to let them leave us for the day. The letting go is awful. We sulk and cry and then we enjoy every moment we get with them after school, watching them blossom into amazing, smart, funny little people. Sure there is whining, interrupting, sibling squabbling and for some reason they never want to go to bed and use more toilet paper than is humanly possible but overall they are awesome.

Then they hit the tween years and they become eye rolling, gum popping, Justice wearing, whining, 1-D loving part-time strangers. Some days they are your baby and the others, they are some sort of wildebeest in designer clothing. One minute they want to tell you everything and the next, they eye roll you to mind your own damn business. Still, I enjoy the moments when we have real conversations and I love that she is at an age where she wants to dress and be like me. Not like an adult but actually coordinate with her mom. It makes my heart all squishy. If only she knew this power she has over me. Shhh, let’s keep that under wraps.

Then, they become teens. Hormones are out of control and they quite frankly are nowhere as cute as they were in the early years. Bad skin, awkwardness and bad attitudes prevail. You are basically financing them but are not entitled to any interaction (that costs extra, my friends). It’s like trying to get the girlfriend experience from a hooker, all that extra money but still, no fucking kissing on the lips. None of it’s real. They hate you and, truth be told, you don’t particularly like them either. You still love them but they are not your favorite people.

Then sometime around senior year, they turn back into normal human beings. They’ve finally got the hang of those damn hormones and they’ve probably had a crisis or two enough to know that you are not going anywhere but now, they are leaving you. My theory is that the only reason moms and dads don’t drop dead on the spot the minute their “babies” go away to college is because of all the growing pains we experience when they are tweens and teens. The pain is necessary to lessen he blow when they have to leave us.

This is my theory and I’m sticking to it and every time my tween rolls her eyes at me, I feign irritation but inside, I’m thanking her for making it easier to let her go in the end. For now, I will take every single kiss, cuddle and eye roll and cherish it because one day she might be across the world and I’ll be longing for the days when I could see her face and when she say, “ I love you,” I’ll always know that I love her more.

What was 1 of your biggest parenting misconceptions?

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Am I Ugly, internet, teens, girls, tweens, Youtube.com, body image, slef- confidence

Throat Punch Thursday,Am I Ugly, videos, teens

Am I Ugly?

Teen Girls are asking the world, “Am I Ugly?” ~ This is a recipe for disaster. As if the media is not already loading the gun with bullets of self-doubt with impossible standards perpetuated further by models and actresses embracing these standards, now our daughters are taking to the internet to ask a world peppered with miserable trolls, “Am I Ugly?

This scares the hell out of me. The potential for catastrophic long term effects from this seemingly innocuous question is beyond belief. I know how a simple critique can go into a young girls ears and get twisted and bent until it has burrowed itself so deeply into her psyche that there is no chance of recovery. To think that a young girl would willingly open herself up to this kind of criticism is unbelievable. I would take the computers and phones away, home-school, whatever it took to spare my daughters of the pain of  living with and suffering daily with body dysmorphic disorder.

Am I Ugly, internet, teens, girls, tweens, Youtube.com, body image, self- confidence

 Why Am I Ugly?

Let me assure you, there is no such thing as an innocuous question when you are opening yourself up to the world to ask  Am I Ugly? There will always be someone who will say yes, even if it’s just to go against the grain. To this new fad of asking the entire world, Am I Ugly? I give the throat Punch because I can assure you that somewhere in the world there is a young girl who just lost all of her self-confidence because the reply to her video was yes.

Somewhere in the world, seeds of self-doubt have been planted and are taking root in a child’s brain. Somewhere in your neighborhood, a 12 year old is crying because she was just told that her skin was bad. Somewhere else, a little girl is running before school and skipping lunch because her reply was that her face looked chunky. There’s a little brunette who is waxing her face for the first time because she was told that maybe if she didn’t have a mustache; she’d have a boyfriend. A blonde with natural curls is wearing a hat because somebody called her hair frizzy. A red head is trying to scrub the freckles off of her face. Another girl is hiding her smile because someone said her teeth are crooked. And yet another tween is crying because her bangs won’t lay right, last night she was told her forehead was too big.

Once these things have been said to these girls, you can’t unring that bell. The girl is changed and she is now self-aware of every real and imagined flaw that have ever existed within her. This is a slippery slope that many girls come to in life and fall down and never recover from it.

It will never end. Beauty is respective. The standard is impossible and the system of measurement is skewed. These little girls need to hear it from their parents, from the time they can hear, that they are beautiful; they are smart; they are funny; they are athletic; they are strong; they are miracles! They need to be self- aware that they are capable of everything, not made painfully aware of their one shortcoming.

What would you do if your daughter made one of these videos? How do you feel about these videos being uploaded by tweens? How do you encourage your daughters to have self-confidence? How do you foster self worth? Don’t let our girls fall victim to the internet by asking Am I Ugly?

Don’t ask Am I Ugly; ask What’s my most Beautiful Quality

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