THE TEEN CHALLENGE (Or, Sue’s Seven Tips For Advising the Teenage Daughter Who Thinks She Knows Everything!)
1. Accept Your Role
Your teenage daughter was born pure, innocent and beautiful. Once she reaches a certain age, however, it is easy to lose sight of the fact that this soon-to-be-woman is that same baby girl that relied on you for virtually everything at the beginning of her life. She still relies on you! Our role as parents is to nurture and grow our babies’ purity, beauty and innocence through to adulthood. The person she becomes at this delicate teenage time of her life is a direct result of everything that goes on in her life. You as a parent have played a huge role in moulding and guiding your child.
2. Enjoy the Ride
My three daughters have now passed the crucial teenage phase and whilst this stage is known to be extremely difficult for mothers and daughters, I have to say that my relationship with my daughters became stronger and closer than ever during the teen years. We maintained our mother/daughter relationships but also began to develop a new mutual respect and friendship that is quite beautiful. I think it is very important for a mother of teenage girls to embrace the positive aspects of the relationship even when they are at times accompanied the “growing pain” struggled. This is the time when you need each other most. And your role is still prominent in every aspect of their lives.
3. Establish a Mutual Respect
I hear of stories of rebellion, feud, disconnect and hardship between mothers and daughters. While this was not a personal experience of mine, my heart goes out to women and their daughters who must suffer through the devastating effects that an adversarial relationship can have on their lives. I believe open communication and a practice of mutual respect for one another can go a long way toward maintaining a strong relationship between mother and teenage daughter. Model respectful behaviour from the beginning – treat her the way you expect to be treated in return and nip bad behaviour in the bud early. Also, teaching your daughter to respect you will go a long way in teaching her to respect herself.
4. Cut to the Chase
When it comes to disagreements between mothers and teen daughters, too often such disagreements end with someone storming out of the room and an abrupt closure to the discussion. Disagreements between mother and daughter can be about the group of friends she hangs around with, or the kind of influence they have on her. They may be about the way she dresses, how she speaks, or they may be around sex and what a teenage girl perceives as having fun and living life which obviously doesn’t sit right with the mother - and the list goes on. Remember to respect your daughter’s feelings and priorities before you have these discussions with her. And remember what it was like for you as a teenage girl blossoming into adulthood. Sharing and caring conversations help much more that screaming battles!
5. Don’t Forget Discipline
It is important to remember that you can be respectful toward your teenage daughter and even be one of her closest friends and confidants, while still managing her with discipline when needed. For me, discipline was the key ingredient in my relationship with my daughters always. To this day they talk about the body language I used with them as kids, the eye contact, the facial expressions and how they could relate to it without the spoken word. In private I would explain the right from the wrong to them and in public I expected them to know the right from the wrong and when they became teenagers they were able to chose many of the right decisions for themselves and share them with me.
6. Know Her Friends
I always welcomed my daughters’ choices of friends. I would talk with their friends, ask them questions about their lives, and treat them with utmost respect. As needed, I would always try to be there to guide and embrace my daughters close friends as if they were daughters of my own. When Natalie introduced Graeme (now my son-in-law!) to our family, I knew in my heart of hearts she had the ability to make the right choice in men. I knew that she was able to attract the person she felt would fill and complete her life. How could I as a loving mother appose her decision?
7. Ease Tension Through Conversation
I think the best advice I can give regarding parenting teenage girls is to not avoid arguments and disagreements, but convert them into dialogues, explanations and guidance. Taking a loving tone will make the relationship much easier on you as well as on your daughter. I believe that when there is tension between mother and daughter, it is our role as mothers to look at the situation, whatever it may be, from our daughter’s perspective. This highlights the commonality between the two opinions – and then you can empathetically and lovingly agree with her on the way forward.
Sue Ismiel is a successful international business woman, philanthropist, devoted wife, mother of three grown daughters, and creator of the world’s most popular depilatory product--Nad’s. With "Sue’s Seven" she has chosen to share her own life’s experiences to serve as friendly advice to women everywhere.
If you have a question for Sue or a topic you’d like her to discuss, please e-mail Response@SuesSeven.com