Raising teen girls can have its challenges, but if you know these secrets, you’ll not only survive but be able to have a healthy relationship with your daughter.
The secrets to raising teen girls are centered around communication.
About Colleen O’Grady
Colleen is a licensed therapist, coach, and trainer who helps moms reduce drama, reclaim their lives, and dial up the dream with their teen(s) and young adult(s). She has a thriving private practice in Houston, TX, and coaches oms from around the world.
After 50,000 hours of working with parents and teens and being a mom in the trenches with her own teenage daughter, she published her award-winning and best-selling book Dial Down the Drama: Reducing Conflict and Reconnecting with Your Teenage Daughter—A Guide for Mothers Everywhere. Her sequel, Dial-Up the Dream: Make Your Daughters Journey to Adulthood the Best for Both of You is also available wherever books are sold.
Colleen has shared her message of practical hope with moms worldwide in Parents Magazine, Wall Street Journal Lunch Break, popular parenting podcasts, and on the red carpet at TEDx Wilmington. She is also the host of the Power Your Parenting: Moms with Teens podcast.
Colleen started her journey as a youth minister. She was immersed in the world of teens. The teens thought she was a rockstar. She saw the great side of teens through this journey. Once she became a psychotherapist, she began seeing the worst of teens, and the hard stories of teenagers, and she had her own daughter. As she navigated her relationship with her daughter, she started studying neuroscience around our stress response.
The human brain is not fully developed until the age of 25. Kids will mature at different rates, but no matter the rate of maturity, they are not able to make great decisions all the time.
People often spend a lot of time in the fight, flight, or freeze mode because we don’t know how to handle situations, both kids and adults.
Staying calm amidst the drama
Timing is everything. If your daughter is stressed, hungry, intoxicated, angry, or emotionally flooded, it is not the right time to have a conversation. Likewise, if you are in any of these states, it is not a good idea to have a conversation with your teen daughter. Give space instead of addressing things immediately.
The contain the situation and talk later rule for raising teen girls
Daughters are hard-wired for drama and are hard-wired to make mistakes. It is not personal when she acts out. It is a normal part of development. Therefore, it is important not to feel like a failure. Giving yourself time to calm yourself down is helpful for having a healthy relationship.
Like with everything in life, it is important not to compare your daughter with other girls. Let them be who they are and discover themselves. Likewise, choose the battles versus focusing on the things that don’t really matter.
Perfectionism and raising teen girls
As moms, we feel the need to be the perfect mom, and that our daughters need to be the perfect daughter. If we are feeling this way, we are going to make our daughters feel that we don’t care about them, we only care about perfection.
Drama kills the relationship. Therefore, it is important to dial down the drama to build a connection.
Don’t let the drama control the connection with your daughter. Be intentional about connection by dialing down the drama.
If there is drama all the time, you will miss out on great moments with your daughter.
Instead of being a monitor when raising teen girls, build in focused time to be present
Get up, give me your phone, and go to bed, constantly being in this mode is just managing your teen.
Take the monitor hat off and commit to being with your daughter for 20 minutes a day. Be the mom who she sees laugh. Be present for her for at least 20 minutes a day. When she sees that you aren’t always pouncing on her, she will let you in more and more of her life.
Robyn emphasized that it is important for your daughter to know that she can come to you with anything and have a conversation about anything, versus them feeling afraid of being judged by us. This demonstrates acceptance of imperfection.
When raising teen girls, the best way to discipline your teen is…
Colleen suggested that the best way to discipline is in a way that will help your teen grow. If your teen was drinking at a party, ask what skills she needs in these situations. Did she succumb to peer pressure? Is there something else going on? Teach them skills to handle situations versus punishing them out of anger.
Powerless and powerful messaging when raising teen girls
We can empower our daughters, or we can take the power away depending on how we treat our daughters. An example, it feels selfish to take care of us or to put ourselves last. If we don’t take care of ourselves, we are the worse version of mom for our daughters, and this will push them away. It is critical to be self-aware of your own emotions.
When raising teen girls, it is important to note that a powerless message in their junior and senior years of high school is to focus more on their end goal for their future than to communicate and be in a relationship with them. There is such an emphasis on future focus and all we can see is the best college, applications, etc. It feels like as moms we must push them over the finish line, and then they’ll say thank you. But if for two years we have the future focus, we miss out on the relationship and their well-being.
It is best to have a holistic view of success. If your child gets into the ivy league schools but hates their life, that is not success.
Make room for connection and pay attention to your daughter’s well-being. Don’t lose sight of well-being. Don’t miss these years.
Our children have a sense of pressure, and we don’t need to add to that, especially if they already have anxiety.
The six keys to healing conversations when raising teen girls
Your daughter is not going to come to you and ask for a healing conversation. But, out of the blue, when they are in college, they will come to you and tell you everything that’s wrong with you. It is easy to get upset, hurt, and angry. Mother’s always get blamed. But when your daughter attacks you, it is really about her, her being stuck in her own life.
Having a clear motive is important so that you can pause and focus on why your daughter is hurting.
Slow it down
The second key is slow it down. Your teen will create a story about you and any situation. Slowing it down is saying “hold up, let’s go back to “one thing” because there is a lot that you are saying, but let’s go back to that one thing and fix that first.
Listening with curiosity is the next step. This means putting judgment aside. Our defensive reaction is” you are so immature”, or “you are so entitled”. Instead, say “so tell me what happened that made you think that I don’t care about you, I would love to know about that”. Your curiosity will soften her anger. Then you can have a conversation.
This may seem counterintuitive. But instead of having multiple conversations going in one text, have one-topic conversations. And a lot of them. This will prove less overwhelming and result in less anger and overwhelming for both of you.
Own our part
This applies to high school and middle school. The first place we go to as a mother is to say that is so wrong or so rude. But often times this results in the teen getting more defensive and angrier. Maybe you know that your daughter is 99% wrong, but if you own your part, even if only 1%, it will make it easier for you and a big difference for her. If she says that you are so stressed, or afraid recognize how you are feeling. Respond with “you know when you said I was stressed, I am sorry that I was so intense. You may trigger your daughter to apologize and say she was hard on you too. When we own our own part, our daughters may soften and own their part as well.
This may feel like defeat, but it is about healing.
A heartfelt apology
We can give a really lousy apology like okay, I’m sorry but...
A heartfelt apology is when you pray, meditate, and give yourself time to understand it. It takes empathy to see it from her perspective and context. And express this to her and tell her what you are going to do to be more mindful going forward.
Don’t miss the moments when raising teens
When your teen wants to talk or share something, don’t let the moments go by without engaging with her. When you stop and listen, you will create amazing memories.
Learn more about Colleen O’Grady and connect with her:
If you or your teen are experiencing anxiety, download my free eBook on Alleviating Anxiety by Developing Health Habits for a Healthy Mind.