“They say that from the instant he lays eyes on her, a father adores his daughter. Whoever she grows up to be, she is always to him that little girl in pigtails. She makes him feel like Christmas. In exchange, he makes a secret promise not to see the awkwardness of her teenage years, the mistakes she makes or the secrets she keeps.”
– Author Unknown
I have two teenage daughters and they are the light of my world. I feel privileged to say that most of their lives I’ve been right by their sides. It’s been the greatest honor of my life. Each phase presenting its own challenges and learning curves, but each full of love, laughter, and a closeness that I thought was beyond my capability.
Now that they are both teens, I’ve had to adjust slightly how I go about communicating the things I must as a parent. Though we are extremely close that doesn’t mean there aren’t fights, misunderstandings, and challenges to authority. It’s important to their futures that I get these moments right. My oldest will tell you that she’s the guinea pig and that my youngest gets the benefit of the lessons I learned. She’s wise well beyond her years, and she sees me coming a mile away if I try to be anything but honest and sincere with her. The adjustment required is to do far less of the talking. That’s the key communication element. I learned that by trying to solve all her problems, instead of just listening. That’s what she needed from me. For a deeper look into how to communicate with your teenage daughter, we offer these suggestions.
There has always been a significant gap between teens and parents. However, in this generation, the technology boom has magnified it. We are trying every day to keep up with the things they are being presented with outside the home. Make no assumptions that what beliefs you hold dear have automatically transferred to them because, chances are, you’ll wind up shocked to learn they haven’t. Be open-minded to the fact that your kid may have a different point of view and that it may be valid.
Be Honest about your Experiences
Our successes and mistakes together form the wisdom we take into parenthood. This is valuable information to my daughters because they can learn from them, rather than repeat my bad decisions. However, using a bully pulpit method of “do as I say, not as I do” is ineffective. This generation abhors it. Be honest about your mistakes from a place of humble regret.
Do Not Project Your Dreams on Them
We all have dreams of who and what we want our daughters to become. We’ve put our hearts and souls into raising them, and we have natural expectations. Sometimes that coincides with their own dreams but, most times, they have other ideas and hopes. This is when we have to put ourselves in their shoes. It’s a cruel thing to push a child into living out the hopes and dreams of their parents at the peril of their own. [Tweet This] There is a fine line to draw here because they also do not know what we know, and we must protect them from costly mistakes. The key is to be supportive by encouraging their dreams, while still parenting them towards the greatest chances of personal success.
Listen, Listen, Listen
It cannot be overstated how important it is to any child, but especially teenage girls, that they be heard. This might seem like the easiest advice on this list, but it’s truly the most difficult. Have you ever really listened to the daily stories of a teenage girl? They are going through major changes, mentally and physically and are under tremendous pressure due to expectations at home, at school, and from their peers. And it’s no secret: Girls can be vicious to each other. They need to vent. They need to be heard by a comforting and supportive ear. They don’t want solutions most times. More than anything, they just need to be heard. That’s what Daddies do.
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Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your daughter(s) tonight and ask, “In what ways could I be a better listener?”