Understanding the Teenaged Daughter

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“Many a man wishes he were strong enough to tear a telephone book in half – especially if he has a teenage daughter.” ~ Guy Lombardo

pouty daughterHas your teenaged daughter suddenly morphed into an alien? Is the sweet girl who used to love to hang out with you and tell you everything become withdrawn and uncommunicative?

Are you distressed because you wanted to have such a close relationship with your daughter and things seem to be moving in the opposite direction?

Do not despair! This is a normal part of her development. In order to ultimately become an independent adult she has to learn to be her own person. This means usually that she does not want to be like Mom or Dad. Nor does she want to be seen or treated like their little girl.

She is trying to figure out who she is and how she will define herself. She is immersed in her peer group during the day and is exploring her identity there. This may shift from day to day.

Some days she may feel good about herself, and other days likes nothing about that same self. There is so much she is trying to figure out. On top of that her body is changing and she may be experiencing hormonal emotions. Sometimes she just needs time to herself

It is around this time that parents accuse her of having “attitude.” Once she is attacked and criticized she withdraws even more. At this age she is extremely sensitive to criticism. She may not say anything, but will carry hurt and resentment.

What is the best way to handle this? First, recognize that this is a natural stage and she is probably struggling. Be sensitive and gentle. Do not insist that she put on a happy face and tell you everything that is going on in her life. Tell her that you know she is not a little girl anymore, and to tell you what she needs, and what she finds annoying.

Of course you must still have rules and expectations, but listen to her opinions, and stress that responsibility leads to more freedom. Allow her to prove herself. Discuss in advance the consequences of bad choices.

This can be a difficult stage, but try not to take her moods personally. Continue to let her know she is loved. Seize upon the moments where she suddenly seems like her own self and wants to talk. Enjoy them but do not pressure her to have more of them. It’s like a butterfly. You delight when they fly into your presence and light awhile, but when it’s time for them to fly away, you have to let them go. And remember, it’s just a stage.

Copyright © Gwen Randall-Young, All Rights Reserved. Contact us if you would like permission to reprint.
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