Today I am honored to introduce an amazing lady who gives practical advice that is easy to apply in our own lives. I always enjoy learning from her experiences, and I know you will too! I thank Betsy de Cruz for sharing her wisdom with us about raising a teenage daughter:
When my kids were little, older parents scared me to death by saying, “You think it’s hard now? Wait ‘til they’re teens!” I wondered how I’d survive the teenage years, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised. So far I’ve enjoyed this stage of parenting more than any other. Teenagers are fun. I can do yoga and cook with Camille. When I call home, Andres answers with his best Indian accent. “Taj Mahal Grill. How may I help you?”
Nevertheless, I see occasional fireworks, especially since I live under the same roof with a teen girl while going through pre-menopause myself. My girl and I both deal with hormones that spike and plummet. I’ve gotten better at crisis management, but some days I wonder what on earth I’m supposed to be doing.
Do you ever ask yourself, “What does my daughter need from me?”
I’m no expert. Just ask Camille. She’ll give you the story straight. But these are three things I want to learn to be a better mom.
Three Things Our Daughters Need
Let Go of Some Control
Gone are the days when we picked our daughters’ clothes and arranged their playdates. Now is not the time to micromanage, but letting go is hard for control queens like me. When my daughter turned twelve, she started experimenting with clothes. She’d wear funky combinations I didn’t like, and I’d try to get her to change. Big mistake.
To avoid needless arguments, I started asking myself, “Is this issue about right and wrong, or do I just want my own way?” Backing off on negotiables, like a schedule for cleaning her room, makes my daughter more likely to listen when bigger choices are at stake. Allowing her to make choices now also helps prepare my daughter for independence later.
Asking questions and listening to their answers helps us get to know our daughters better. It’s also a way to support them through their struggles.
The book Sticky Faith encouraged me to become a better listener. Authors Kara Powell and Chap Clark say, “Never explain something to your kid if you can ask a question instead.”
Powell and Clark cite the example of pre-marital sex. Most likely our daughters already know what we think about it, so engaging them in a dialogue that includes asking questions is more effective than telling them what we think. When we lecture, they stop listening. Asking questions empowers them and opens the door to more effective communication.
Cheer Her On
Can you remember being a teen? When you walked into the lunch room and two girls started snickering, you were sure they were laughing at you. Your teen girl faces the same challenges. A friend makes a snarky comment. A teacher gives her a bad grade. She asks herself, “Am I pretty? Am I smart? Do people like me?”
You have the opportunity to be your daughter’s greatest cheerleader.
Her relationship with you and her dad will influence her self-esteem more than anything, so lay on the encouragement! Be on the lookout for what she’s good at and encourage her to go for it. Tell her she’s pretty. Tell her you appreciate her help at home. She needs it more than you know.
Our daughters don’t need perfect moms. They need moms willing to learn to let go of some mommy control, listen, and cheer them on. Maybe what they need most is for us to love them no matter what.
Now it’s your turn. What do you think your kids need from you?
Betsy de Cruz enjoys God, life, and dark roast coffee. She and her family live in the Middle East. Most days she feels privileged to live overseas; other days she wants to pull her hair out and catch the next plane home. Betsy’s vision is to encourage women to get God’s Word in, so their faith can spill out, even during life’s bumpy moments. You can find Betsy at her blog, faithspillingover.com , on Twitter, and on Facebook.