Inside this post: Getting along with your teen daughter can be challenging to say the least. While we all want to be friends and get along with our kids, here are ten tips to better manage your relationship.
Dear teen daughter, I hope one day we can be friends.
I hope one day we have more discussions than arguments, conversations than fights, laughs than lectures.
I hope one day you understand that I am always on your side, always cheering you on, always believing in you.
I hope one day you understand that your joy is my joy and your pain is my pain. I hope we can have long conversations about your hopes and fears, your dreams, and your failures. I hope we can laugh until we cry. I hope we can hug to ease each other’s burdens.
I hope one day you understand that disappointing you is hard for me, that I crave your attention, that I would do anything to keep you safe.
I hope one day I see you become a mother yourself, and I have a front-row seat to watch the joy your child brings to your life. I hope I can give you useful advice. I hope you ask for my help.
But most of all, I hope one day we can be friends.
Today is not that day, sweet girl.
It might not be this week or even this year.
Today I’m not your friend, but I will always be your mother. Sometimes I can be both, but not today.
Today I show my love by setting boundaries and limits. I know you don’t like them, but it’s my job, and I take it seriously.
Today I show my love by saying no. One day I hope you look back and realize that I said yes a lot more than I said no, but more importantly, I did it because it was in your best interest at the time.
Today I love you enough to let you fail, to not give in to your every whim, to withstand the barbs you throw at me.
Today I question your choices, your screen time, your social media. I want to trust you but I am not yet sure if you are trustworthy.
And at the end of each day, no matter what wars we have battled, my hope never changes—I hope one day you know my love for you never wavered, I tried my best, and I’m so proud to be your mom.
But most of all, dear daughter, I hope one day we can be the best of friends.
How to Get Along With Your Teenage Daughter
Let’s be honest., getting along with a teenager can be challenging.
And with good reason. They have so much going on in that brain developmentally, a surge of hormones that shocks their system, and so many external factors to manage, including academic pressures, mixed messages from media, challenging peer relationships, social media, global chaos, etc.
The teen years are rough on us all.
Sometimes it’s tough to find the balance between grace and discipline, empathy and boundaries. We all want to have a good relationship, but the ongoing power struggle, poor attitude, and disrespect can be exhausting. We also have to be cognizant that there is a mental health epidemic amongst are teens right now, with illnessess such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders and other conditions on the rise.
And sometimes teenage girls push our buttons so hard that we just lose our ever-loving minds. If this happens to you, you’re not alone. We have to try to learn from it and move on.
But there are some simple tips to improve your relationship with your teen daughter so you can make your time together less volatile and more enjoyable.
10 Tips to Help You Get Along with Your Teen Daughter
Don’t engage with snarky behavior. No one wants to feel disrespected, but I honestly feel like there was a period when one of my teenage daughters couldn’t even control her eye rolls. They were almost like an instinctual response, and probably the point at which she truly started forming her own opinions.
It’s hard, but don’t take every one of their negative actions personally.
Adolescent girls know exactly where to strike where it hurts, but keep in mind that most teenagers’ poor behavior is about control and getting a reaction from their parents. When you are having an important discussion, don’t succumb to their behavior. Stay focused on the message you want to get across.
That doesn’t mean you have to be a doormat, however. If they are acting like a brat, then simply say, “We will have this conversation, but we are not having it until you can behave appropriately. I’m going to let you go to your room to cool off for an hour, but then we will talk about this.”
Know that this me, me, me phase is temporary. Sometimes it seems like your teen daughter is so self-absorbed that they don’t even notice the world around them, and certainly not the ups and downs of their parents. You can chalk this one up to their developing brains, and just the fact that teenagers are often egomaniacs. This is why boundaries are so important, so you should make sure you set rules such as spending limits, curfews, etc., but don’t think they will be this self-centered forever. Like so many other things, it’s often a phase they will grow out of over time. Patience is your friend during these teenage years.
Don’t be overly critical of anything, but especially of their friends and their appearance.
Sometimes we feel like our daughters are defiantly rejecting us when they change their clothing styles, and we can worry when they suddenly change their friend groups. But the truth is, they’re just trying to see who they want to become in this world.
Teen girls are constantly trying stuff on to see what “fits”. They try on friendships, hobbies, and school subjects. They try on different personalities, sometimes multiple ones a day, to see what they like, to see what makes them feel comfortable, to see if it’s what they want to be. While it can be a challenge for a parent to watch our teen girls drastically change, sometimes we need to be patient. Of course, we always need to address negative or unsafe behavior, but adolescence is also a time that our kids are figuring things out. Try not to rush to judgment when your daughter starts changing. You might like this new version even better.
Additionally, adolescence can be a very sensitive time for a teen girl when it comes to her appearance. Insecurities may appear overnight, especially as her body goes through some major changes. Although you want her to look her best, try to avoid scrutinizing her choice of hairstyle, clothes, or general fashion sense, and definitely don’t ever comment on her weight. If you have concerns about her health, make an appointment with your family doctor, and always try to model healthy behaviors.
Be the grown-up. No matter how your teen daughter treats you, it’s important to remember that you are still her number one role model. That means she is looking to you to see how you handle issues such as conflict, stressful situations, and life changes. Most parents want their children to like them, but it’s important to remember that you are playing chess, not checkers; meaning, parenting is a long game. The moves you make now will impact their lives for years to come, so don’t sacrifice your child’s future for getting them to like you today. Make sure your teen knows the rules, and then enforce them consistently and compassionately. Your kids may like you better today because you let them have a big party or bought them alcohol, but you are undermining your role in the future.
Some people say that as your kids enter the mid- to late-teen years, they need more partnering than parenting, which means more guidance and less authoritarian rule.
Let her fail. No one like to see their child hurt, and we all fear that the mistakes they make now could impact their future, but teen girls can learn so much from failures. Most importantly, they learn resiliency and grit, and that if they screw up, it’s going to be okay. Teen girls put so much pressure on themselves to be perfect and please others that they often work themselves into a stress frenzy. Or, some teens who don’t experience failure because their parents constantly step in become entitled and don’t realize that there are ramifications to their actions.
Letting your daughter make mistakes can actually boost her confidence and self-esteem in the long term. This may mean letting your teen fail a test because they didn’t study hard enough and not blaming the teacher. It might mean having your child pay for their own phone bill after abusing privileges. It could mean not taking in their gym uniform that they always forget or letting them get detention because they always run late. It could even mean you pride-and-joy doesn’t get into the college they hoped because they missed the deadline that you reminded them about 400 times.
Learning to cope with the natural consequences that come when they don’t put their best foot forward can make a huge difference in raising kids who are functional members of society and ones that cripple when they hit a challenge. As parents, we have to get over the underlying fear issues we have about sending our babies out into the world. Our job is to keep a loving connection to our big kids, but they have to develop the internal drive and grit to not let setbacks permanently undermine them. When they fail, but then dust themselves off and get back up to face their next challenge, it helps them to recognize their own strength and resilience.
There is no greater gift than that.
This does not mean you can’t lead with compassion when it comes to your teenager. Everyone needs a helping hand once in awhile, but if you are always saving your child from a consequence, they may not know what to do if you aren’t around to get them through it.
Teach Them to Become Critical Consumers of Media. Your teen gets barraged with thousands of images every day, many of which are run through filters, digitally altered, or photo-shopped. Teen girls often fall victim to the comparison trap on social media and it can have long-term, damaging impacts on their body image, self-esteem, and mental health. Take the time to discuss how women are portrayed in the media, and how businesses profit off of women who feel unattractive. Focus on what their body can do, not how it looks. Discuss how today’s influencers are building personal brands, and it’s often not the reality behind their lives. Watch informative content (in addition to binge-watching Netflix) such as inspirational TED Talks or documentaries on people who live differently so they can further develop empathy.
Note: We really love this Ted Talk for Teens: Looks Aren’t Everything, Believe Me, I’m a Model
Take the time to scroll Instagram, flip through a fashion magazine, or watch a teen-centric show with your daughter. Point out where images may have been retouched or the unrealistic looks of a character on TV. Once a young girl understands what happens behind the scenes, they can better understand what is “real” and what is manipulated.
Pick and choose your battles. This one is hard for me. One of my daughters goes through life like a tornado leaving wreckage behind her. Her room is often a disaster of epic proportions. It has been the bane of our relationship, so much so that I couldn’t see all the positive things she was doing, such as her great grades, her involvement in some service projects, and her strong work-ethic in sports.
So, I started shutting her door. Once a week she has to empty her garbage and bring down any cups, bowls, silverware, wrappers, etc., that have accumulated, but beyond that, I just try to ignore it–as long as it doesn’t trickle down to the rest of the house. Sure, deep down it drives me nuts, but taking that conflict out of our relationship has brought a level of peace that is so much better for our family. There has to be rules and boundaries, but make sure you don’t fall on your sword for every single thing so you don’t miss the growth and accomplishments of your daughter as well.
Stay available. Sure, it would be great if my daughters walked through the door and told me all about their day, but that never happens. The little girl who used to run through the door and throw her arms around my neck is long gone.
Instead, we have to be the bigger person and meet them where they are at and lean into their terms. That means sometimes I spend a little too much on Starbucks so I can spend a few extra minutes with them or I stay up late because they decided they want to bake a cake. Sometimes we have long conversations via text because they are embarrassed or I work in the kitchen so they know I’m around if they need me.
Simply staying available has increased the communication level in our house, and while I’m definitely sleep-deprived, I feel better about my relationship with my daughters. I also try to make sure they know that no topic is off-limits and I’m open to their opinions. Your teens will come to you more if they know that you can listen and accept their opinions without actually having to agree with them.
Respect her privacy. When my daughters stopped sharing everything about their lives, I took it so personally. If I’m being honest, I was crushed and I also started worrying that they were doing things they weren’t supposed to do. The truth was, they just had aspects of their lives that they wanted to keep to themselves, and I had to learn to respect that.
Instead of needling my daughters, when I felt like something was going on I would say something like, “I am sensing that there is something going on with you right now. I want to respect your privacy, but I also want you to know that I’m here if you want to talk about it.” The truth is, the more I pulled back and stopped pressing for more information, the more my daughters were willing to share it. Try not to make your teen’s behavior about you, and instead try to keep in mind that they are most likely dealing with emotions they don’t understand yet.
Of course, this does not apply if you feel like your daughter is endangering herself, but if you think it’s something minor, respecting her privacy is always the way to go.
Be silly and have fun. Rolled eyes when you are talking is one thing, but rolled eyes because you are busting out some 80s dance moves should be welcome. Try to have some fun with your daughter and show them your personality as well. Watch movies, listen to funny podcasts, play games, ask their advice about fashion and beauty, or exercise with them. Be a role model for joy, and believe with all your heart that no matter the surly attitude they are displaying on the outside, on the inside you are continuing to build a foundation of memories they will take with them throughout their life.
We are such a fan of Lisa Damour, and her books Untangled and Under Pressure. We consider them must-haves when it comes to raising teen girls.
Parenting teens and tweens is hard, but you don’t have to do it alone. Here are some articles that others have found helpful:
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