How to be a better mum to your teenage girl – and its all about communication.
If you have teenagers, Covid-19 is undoubtedly a very challenging time.
And if being cooped up with your teenage daughter – or daughters – for months has left your relationship a little more strained, you are not alone.
Mandy Dante, former speech pathologist and founder of Flourish Girl, (a preventative mental health program which offers mother-daughter programs to improve communication), says right now during this testing time, the main thing mums can do is to keep communication open with their daughters.
We asked Mandy for her top tips on how to talk to your teenage girl.
What are the insider secrets for mums to have a positive relationship with their daughter during the teenage years?
“Share more stories about what life was like for you when you were your daughter’s age. You can also just share more about yourself in the day to day things. When we share more courageously and vulnerably, it gives girls permission to start to be more open with their thoughts and feelings.
Also have regular check-ins with your daughter, find out what’s going on with her world so she knows she is seen and will feel more open to speak to you.
In saying that, it’s important to know the balance between checking in with your daughter and also giving her space to figure things out and sometimes that means you may need to wait for her to come to you.
Lastly, spending quality one on one time is a huge gamechanger – ask her what she wants to do with you and have some fun together. “
Why is it and has it always, historically been so challenging for mums and daughters to get along?
“I think it’s because so often mums and daughters don’t hear each other properly. Mums want to help their daughters make the right decisions, so they can ask lots of questions and give advice, but the daughter can find that frustrating because all she thinks is ‘my mum is controlling, she doesn’t trust me’.
The same thing happens the other way, so often the daughter may be frustrated at her mum because she may be dealing with bigger issues that may be going on at school. Sometimes mums can interpret that as a personal attack on their identity as a mum. “
What are the top three challenges facing today’s teenage girls?
- Stress and anxiety: Girls are stressed out about their academics, their future and whether their friends will love them for who they are.
- Fear of speaking up: Girls are unsure of whether they feel safe enough to share what is really going on for them. They paint a picture of what the outcome may be if they share what’s going on as in their friends and family may judge them. Because this picture is scary, they feel like bottling up in the safer solution to deal with their problems
- Comparison: Girls constantly compare themselves to others to be a certain way to be liked and approved by others.
Should mothers get involved with their daughter’s spats with her friends?
“I say just let her know that you’re there for her. She doesn’t want you to solve her problems if she hasn’t asked you, all she wants is a safe space to talk about what’s going on.”
Why do so many girls have issues with their friends compared to boys?
“Often girls don’t feel safe enough to share what they really feel in fear or being judged or rejected. Sometimes girls haven’t spent the time to discover the social and emotional tools they need to talk about what’s going on with friends.
In our programs, we give space for girls to discover what empathy really looks like, and so often they learn something new about other girls in their year level.”
How much do teenage girls need to be monitored?
“It’s important to have a conversation with your teenage daughter around boundaries. Every girl is going to be so different depending on the current relationship they have with their mother.
Talk about why you want to monitor her and how it makes her feel when you ask her what she is doing. Mums are just wanting to make sure their daughter is safe, but teens may not see it that way.
Sometimes teens can get frustrated when they are constantly interrogated by questions. They like to have the freedom to explore new things with their friends. But it’s also important for girls to hear why you want to know where they are. The more personal stories and examples mothers can bring into conversations, the more teenage girls will be open to listening. “
Should mums be looking at their daughter’s social media accounts?
“Have a conversation similar to the one above but don’t be too strict. Social media is a huge part of a teen’s life, it’s a platform where girls get to connect with their friends and have fun posting photos!
Teenage girls like the freedom they have to be themselves. Sometimes you wanting to monitor and look at her accounts can make her feel that you don’t trust her. “
What are the biggest risks for today’s teenage girls?
“Mental health and body image issues are huge for teenage girls. We need to make sure girls are sharing what’s going on for them.
It’s very easy for girls to bottle up their emotions and thoughts (I sure did when I was a teenager), so if girls are being really quiet or very explosive, these are warning signs that there’s something bigger going on. “
For more information on Flourish Girl visit https://www.flourishgirl.org/