I’ll just say it. I love being a mom to girls. When they were younger I dressed them in sweet little outfits and put their hair in pigtails. I enjoyed shopping for babies and Barbies. I loved how white-haired ladies would smile and admire my girls. But every once in a while, something discouraging would happen while we were out and about.
Inevitably, some random mom would see me and my girls, shake her head and say, “Ugh. Just wait until they’re teenagers.”
Believe it or not, that awkward moment of doom and gloom happened fairly regularly. After a while, fear set in. Was it really going to be that bad? What did they know that I didn’t know? For heaven’s sake, I didn’t want to dread the future!
Friends suddenly stopped talking to each other for no apparent reason. Cliques started to form. Feelings were hurt when girls “accidentally” heard about the sleepover they weren’t invited to. Decisions (like where to sit in the lunchroom) became a major issue.
I tried my best to teach my girls how to avoid the drama. We talked about the qualities that make a good friend. I reminded them to treat others the way they’d want to be treated. I warned them never to talk about other girls behind their back.
But despite my best efforts, drama seemed inescapable – especially when I saw how my own (typically) easygoing daughter struggled with her own ever-changing emotions.
I’m no expert, but I have been through junior high three times now. (Once, by myself of course, and twice with my two older daughters.) And now I’m bracing myself as my youngest starts sixth grade.
Do you have a daughter? Here are some ideas on how to guide her through the ups and downs of those middle school years.
- Just let her talk.
There are a couple of tricky questions I must ask myself when my daughter comes to me after a bad day. Does she want my advice – or does she just want to vent? As a mom, it’s tough not to get emotionally involved when your child is upset. But I’ve got to control my own feelings. I don’t want to make the situation worse, but I also don’t want to dismiss her feelings.
- Been there, done that.
It’s hard to imagine your mom as a teenaged girl. But it may be helpful to share stories from your middle school years. Sharing your experiences will help her see there is light at the end of the tunnel. It can also help her know that you understand how she feels.
- A nice distraction is always good.
After she’s had a chance to vent, try to stay positive. Don’t dwell on the situation. Move on. Encourage her to do something positive to help her de-stress. Go for a walk. Play the piano. Read. Shoot hoops on the basketball court. Let her take time to blow off some steam.
- Expand her circle of friends.
Provide her with opportunities to make friends outside of school. Help her meet girls that share the same interests that she has. You can never have too many friends.
- Help her choose friends wisely.
Teach her to focus on friends that include her. Encourage her to spend time with friends that make her feel good about herself.
Yes, teenage girls have their challenges. But let’s face it. Every age and stage of raising girls and boys can be challenging.
I refuse to dump doom and gloom on other moms. Trust me; the teen years can be great. It’s fun to cheer them on as they pursue their interests. It’s encouraging to watch them step out and try things outside of their comfort zones. It’s rewarding to watch them grow and mature. When it comes to my girls, I wouldn’t change a thing.
Okay fine, maybe I’d change just one little thing. I could do without the drama.