Mothers of teen girls are a species apart; they are dealing with a mine field of raging hormones, and often are more resilient than they think they are. If you are one, here are ten commandments to help you through it all:
1. Thou shalt support her at all times
Even though your teen girl will never ever acknowledge it most probably, she desperately needs your support, your listening ear, and your loving, non-judgmental presence. In practical terms, this means just sitting by her holding hands when she is going through a breakup with a friend, for example. It also means that you need to help her take decisions when she seems at a loss, but is too proud to ask for help.
2. Thou shalt be a mother, not a friend
You are a mother first, and friend second. As a mother, you are the responsible to set boundaries for your daughter, and even if she is annoyed with rules, the fact is that teens need rules. They need boundaries to exist, as long as those boundaries are reasonable. If you have a rule that there should not be any mobile phone use at night, because it interferes with healthy sleep, your teen should be made to obey that rule. Boundaries create the sense of security that teens desperately need.
3. Thou shalt not force conversations
As all mothers of teens know that it is just impossible to force conversations between themselves and their daughters. A teen will share only what she wants to share about her life. All a mother can do is to create the kind of closeness with her daughter so that she would want to share what goes on in her life. Even so, it is very unrealistic to expect her to share with you all about her day or what is going on between her friends and herself.
4. Thou shalt validate her feelings
What is important to your daughter may not be important to you. Nonetheless, it is important to her. She may be upset because of some trivial cause, but if it upsets her, it should be taken seriously. Nothing puts off a teen girl than dismissing her feelings as being not important. More than anything, teens need respect, and the conviction that they are valued for what they are.
5. Thou shalt ignore the eye roll
There may be very few teenagers who have not mastered the art of the eye roll. And it never fails to trigger the parent. However difficult it is, a wise mother would ignore it. At a later time you can bring it up with her, saying that it is not an appropriate response. Annoying as it is, eye rolling is a developmental stage that teen girls will grow out of.
6. Thou shalt tolerate their choice in clothing to some extent
All mothers of teen girls agonize over the length of their daughter’s skirts, and the tightness of their t-shirts. Most of the agony stems from the worldly wisdom of mothers; the awareness that it is not wise to attract attention to one’s body by dressing skimpily. However, it is best to let your teen girl choose her clothes by herself, unless of course, a particular item of clothing transcends all norms of decency.
7. Thou shalt be open and matter of fact about periods, bodily changes and sex
There should be open discussion about period pains, hygiene during periods, bodily changes, and sex, although sex is a topic hardly ever brought up by teen girls with their mothers. However, if one of these topics need to be addressed, be factual and authentic. There is no need to couch your words in polite-speak with your girl.
8. Thou shalt tolerate their self-absorption
Teens put themselves first, and it is developmentally normal. They might want you to cook for them right now, seemingly not noticing how tired you are. If they seem to be egomaniacs, that is because a lot of teens are. They are the centre of their universe right now, but it is a temporary phase. When the selfishness crosses boundaries, you can try to instill empathy in them, without being too forceful.
9. Thou shalt not criticize their friends
Teen girls have a tribe of friends with whom they have pacts of secrecy and companionship. It is a sacred tribe and is placed on a pedestal. Even if you feel that some of her friends are a negative influence, go easy. It is a good sign if she talks to you regarding her friends, and the possibly naughty things they are up to. What mothers can do is to instill a sense of right and wrong in kids so that they will know it when a friend tries to influence them negatively.
10. Thou shalt not tolerate bad and insulting behaviour
Teen girls can be very hurtful and mean with their words. Do not ever allow them to insult you with words or deeds. At the same time, do not get into arguments with them. Be calm in the face of the raging storm. Keep your peace and say ‘I do not wish to be talked to this way. Let us discuss this some other time’ and then leave the room. Don’t resort to hysteria or scare tactics. Your teenage daughter will respect you if you know where to draw the line.