My beautiful daughter sits quietly, wrestling with emotion, and struggling with her situation. Steve and I listen, as the tears fall from her eyes, and we, “the parents”, try to decide and calculate what our response should be. We know there could be teenage hormones involved, but dare we ask?
With three girls, this could describe any moment, any daughter, at any time. Julia came the other night from college for spring break. She shared with me how refreshing it was to hear our family have an open conflict at the table (a little insight to our family dinner this last week).
“What?” I said.
“Mom, I love being home, and seeing how my family can have open conflict. We talk, we share, we cry, and we are ok with that. I love being amongst my people. I love being home.” Julia said with a little laugh.
I felt a moment of victory when she said this, as if something we had done as parents was right. Julia loves being home. She loves open conflict. Ok then. This is what I always dreamed of. As a mom, I have watched my girls fidget with anxiety, obsess over grades, outfits, hair and skin, cry over lost friendships, get angry over injustice, find joy in deep relationships and love, and become confused over decisions and the future. I witness moments when they laugh, cry, scream, cry and laugh again, all within a 5-minute time span. Their issues are complex. Each daughter I have is unique, complicated, talented and wonderful. I don’t have a mold they all fit in to. I don’t have a manual to hand out on the right way to do things. What has worked in parenting for one daughter is completely different for the other daughter. I am still learning how to be a mom after 20 plus years… and Julia likes experiencing open conflict. I suppose this is a victory in some weird way. Possibly she liked it the other night, because she wasn’t in the middle this time.
Here is my new advertisement.
A friend messaged me this week and got me thinking.
I would love to hear any guidelines or hard-and-fast rules or advice or perspective on raising tween girls.
I wish I had a manual on raising girls, but I am afraid each girl is so unique, that any manual would be far too exhaustive. What I can say, is that young lady of yours, needs you more than ever. So, while I am flying on a plane home from Lima, I jotted down 30 do’s and don’ts of raising girls. I hope these help. And for the record, I would like to say, I am certainly not a perfect parent by any means, and my girls would be more than happy to share the areas I am not so good in. They are sweet like that. I suppose that is where “open conflict” comes in. My family doesn’t hide or bury stuff. Thus, I need the grace of God every single day to handle it.
30 do’s and don’ts of raising girls.
1. Don’t let her disconnect from you.
2. Don’t let her hide, however, give her the space she needs to recharge.
3. Don’t judge her, or she won’t share her heart with you.
4. Don’t allow her to control the home with her emotions.
5. Don’t let your other children become victims to her emotions.
6. Don’t take things personally when she looses it or needs her space.
7. Do hold her close
8. Do spend lots of time with her
9. Do listen
10. Do dates with her
11. Do reassure her that she is normal
12. Do everything you can to make her feel beautiful, loved and wanted.
13. Do confront her when her emotions are dominating the home
14. Do set boundaries on what emotions are ok and what are harmful to others and herself
15. Do help her find the tools to cope with those emotions that hurt other people or herself
16. Do help her understand what a good friendship is and what isn’t. Girls can be quite cruel to each other at times
17. Do get help from others during those times you are feeling defeated as a parent. Sometimes we need counselors; pastors and friends who can help us navigate through the rough waters of raising kids
18. Do help her discover ways she can calm herself, whether it be a quiet place, a warm bath, a run around the block, or something else.
19. Do give her a safe place to share.
20. Do help her when the hormones rage. She doesn’t much like herself when she looses it. She doesn’t much like herself when she can’t control herself, so she needs help. She needs you to love her, even when she is difficult.
21. If you have an introvert, DO read the book, “Quiet.” This book was one of the most helpful parenting books I have read (even though it wasn’t meant to be a parenting book). Help the extroverts in your family provide space for the introverts to share.
22. Do make sure she gets enough sleep. Sleep deprivation, mixed with teenage hormones equals disaster.
23. Don’t take things personally when she looses it or needs her space. (I know this is a duplicate. Steve made me put it in twice. Evidently he thinks us mom’s need to hear this more than once. 🙂
24. Do forgive yourself. I can’t begin to count the number of times I lost it with my girls.
25. Do confess when you have been wrong as a parent. Teach your children about humility.
26. Do encourage them with something every day. Steve and I try so hard to remind our girls of their gifts often, because we are also constantly correcting them too.
27. Do trust that God has a plan for your children. Sometimes, it’s ok they break, its ok they struggle. Sometimes, these are the very moments they find Christ.
28. Do pray for them.
29. Do help them get back up on their feet when they have felt defeated. When they don’t get the part in the play, when they didn’t win the race, make the team, or get the job, don’t let them give up.
30. And finally, do take care of yourself. If you aren’t a healthy mom (or dad), it’s all the more difficult to expect your kids to be healthy.
Please friends, if you have other thoughts, please share!
Specializing in Marriage and Family Therapy
Life, Family, Faith and Travel...the life of a Jones
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