She’s Just Not That Into You: Surviving Summer With Your Teenage Daughter
The lazy days of summer are finally here, but you might be finding it difficult to relax if your relationship with your teen daughter feels like an ongoing power struggle….How much screen time? Why can’t I seem to get her to follow through on anything I ask her to do? I want to listen and support her, but I also have to be a parent…Where do I begin?
It may seem like you’re losing ground…but have hope.
One of the most important developmental tasks of adolescence is to learn how to form meaningful friendships with peers and renegotiate relationships with parents, all while trying to establish key aspects of developing identity during those crucial teen years. This has never been an easy task, but it’s particularly complicated now with the sheer volume of social expectations and interactions that our daughters must navigate every day through social media. Additionally, teenagers are particularly susceptible to the intoxicating and instantaneous effects of dopamine release in the brain, so the lure of constant connection and instant entertainment is powerful and ADDICTIVE. No wonder she wants to have nothing to do with you! Still, it’s our job as parents to help our daughters learn to manage their time and behavior, to understand how to cope with all this outside stimulation and to cultivate healthy family relationships.
What can help? There’s not only hope but there are tools to help you manage this phase of development. One small step is to simply have clear and consistent rules around phone use. As an example, think about establishing a phone curfew at night, both during the school year and over the summer. Developing brains need time to rest and unwind. Once chores are completed in the morning, your daughter can have her phone returned.
Maya Angelou said: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” As the parent, it is up to you to set the tone for your relationship with your daughter…Even when she may be pushing you away and pressing all of your buttons. If she is behaving in a way that you don’t approve of, don’t match her energy and behavior by retaliating or lashing out. Strive to hold a higher level of awareness with a calm, non-reactive presence. The only way that you will be able to stay one step ahead of the power struggle that your teen will inevitably attempt to pull you into (that is her job, BTW!) is by keeping yourself centered and grounded in your role as parent. You are really not her best friend. You are the parent and part of your job description is to hold clear and firm boundaries and have the ability to say NO as needed.
Remember, your teenage daughter may look very much like a grown-up, but she is still a child with developing social and emotional needs. There is hope for you to find other moms to talk this through with, get expert advice and find answers and not feel so alone.
If you are interested in learning more about practical ways to help your teen daughter, I’m offering a unique program for Mothers of Teen Girls this summer: a small and highly-interactive group focused on what it means for our girls to come of age in a digital era of celebrity culture, social media, and cyberbullying. As a participant, you’ll learn effective strategies for handling your “screen-ager” and develop useful tools for strengthening emotional connection and guiding your daughter(s) through this complex developmental period. You’ll also have the opportunity to connect with other moms facing the same challenges.
Additionally, I am also happy to connect with anyone interested in doing individual therapy, if the program time or format is not right for your needs. Please feel free to contact me.
Have hope: There are ways to reconnect and help your daughter chart a course for success!