I was a bit of a horror, as far as teenage daughters go.
My mom and I fought, almost daily, for many of my early teenage years. I was a pain, to say the least, with a strong personality in a house of sweet, tender and quiet family members. I was always right and very independent at far too young. I wasn’t respectful of the boundaries laid before me, but I refused to lie– so I would lawyer my way into proving that my point of view was right. The result was never ending fights, that seemed to merge into one another. Her poor mother, you’re probably thinking… you’re right.
I say this because now, I understand both sides. I’ve been the unruly, emotional teenage daughter. And I can look back at it from the eyes of an adult now: both with guilt for being so unruly and with sympathy for my poor ma, who must have felt like she was going out of her mind.
Yes, I know– I will get my payback when I have girls. For years I’ve thought a lot about how I might raise them. I’ve wondered if I’ll make the same parenting choices or if I’ll wield an iron fist.
There are a few things though, that I’ve decided were key to me growing up successfully– things that I would do again with my daughters when their teenage years come barreling in at 11 or 13 or 14, whenever teenagehood decides to show up.
I hope this helps some of you mothers, that are in the depths of mucking around in “teenage daughterhood”, wondering when it will ever end and you can just drink hot tea together and be friends again. In the depths of where you are, don’t forget these things– she will appreciate you for it later.
1. Listen, listen, listen.
My mother did me a big favor from the day I was born: she always, always, always listened. She took my point of view into account, even from when I was a child. I never felt like my point of view mattered less because I was younger– I wasn’t ever “just a kid”. I was a person, with real feelings and worthy opinions.
That’s the truth of it though, isn’t it? Girls have real feelings and opinions, even as little kids. If you listen to her, you’re building an internal truth that her feelings matter. That they’re worth hearing. You don’t have to give her what she wants– you just have to listen and really hear her.
2. Don’t trivialize her day-to-day drama. That stuff matters.
I had the unfortunate luck of going through my first break up on 9/11. I was in so much despair that I couldn’t quite comprehend what was going on around me in the outside world. We all know what was the more important event in the long run… And perhaps I was a selfish teenage girl for not being more involved that tragic day. But at that moment, I couldn’t see outside my little bubble. It was a time to think about me, and to go through feelings of loss and anger for the very first time. It was my own personal death of a relationship, which felt so immediate compared to the collective pain around me that I could do nothing to stop.
When she goes through these big life moments, drop everything to be the one who comforts her. She’ll remember if you’re the lap she sobs on. Girls don’t forget things like that.
3. Insist on honesty.
Your daughters will probably start doing things that you don’t want them to do very soon, whatever those things may be. There is not a whole lot you can do about that, no matter how many strict rules you put in place. Through the generations, kids have always learned ways to get around those rules and do what they want to do, no matter what. This is true now more than ever.
So let me ask you, is it better that she sneaks out of the house at midnight to go to a party, or that you know that she’s at a party and you can help her if she needs it (or even save her, you never know)? This is an honest question that you need to ask yourself, and you can base your decisions off you answer– this one is very personal. I presented this question to my own mother at 16, knowing that I was going to do as I pleased, and she could be in the loop or not.
No parent wants to really have to answer this question, because it makes you feel completely out of control. And it feels like a slap in the face– like she’s deliberately disobeying your rules. But if you take a step back (and 3 deep breaths) you may find yourself with a different understanding. She’s going to test boundaries, you know this. You’ve known this for a long time. And if you promote telling the truth above all else, you will have a few advantages: 1.) you will know where she really is, which is always safer, 2.) she will know that if she needs you, really needs you to stay safe (and alive– for example, if her drunk friend insists on driving her home) she can call you. You will still love her.
There can still be repercussions for going against your rules. Just insist that she tells the truth, above all else.
4. Give her independence, if she’s really clamoring for it.
The teenage years are the start of a long push for independence. If she really, really wants that independence, you will probably be better off to give it to her, little bit by little bit. Some people are just more apt to want independence early, and if she’s really pushing for it, she’s probably just one of those personalities.
With girls like that, it’s better to give it to them and let them return to your arms on their own. They will. Once they feel responsible for their own actions, their own choices, it’s likely that they’ll want to return to being a little girl pretty quickly after that.
5. Give her affection, a lot.
Yep, she’s going to feign disgust. She’ll push you away. She’ll roll her eyes. Just smile, ignore her and hug her and kiss her anyways. Keep doing it just like you did when she was 6.
That too cool for school attitude is completely normal, especially when she’s embarrassed. But trust me, she notices when you reminder her that you love her. And she notices if you don’t. Ignore any personal feeling of rejection or being pushed away, and then be affectionate anyways. And then do it again. She’ll remember it years from now, those constant reminders that you love her– those things will matter the most when she moves away and starts her own life. And then again when she starts to raise her own girls.
6. Don’t be perfect. Just be your own personality.
Girls aren’t looking for perfect mothers. They’re looking for real mothers. Mom’s that yell and then apologize for being too mean. One’s that have weird quirky habits. One’s that have flaws, and struggle with things in their own lives. One’s that talk about their struggles, and work through them.
It sets the precedence for being real, for being authentic and for loving yourself just as you are. It teaches her that life doesn’t just suddenly fall in line at some point– that everyone continues to have their own struggles, no matter what age.
When you are willing to share your own downfalls, admit your mistakes, try again and be open about your challenges, it will show her that she should do the same. Not just with you, but with friends and later with a husband. Don’t we all want to help girls grow into real, empowered women? This is the base of it.
7. Ask questions. Give advice. Be involved in her life.
Be involved. Know her friends, know her goals. Know what’s going on next Saturday night, or who’s mean to her at school. It’s so easy to become a someone on the sideline at this point in her life. She won’t invite you to play in the muck of her life unless you insist on being there.
Don’t miss her most important events, even if it’s not convenient. If she comes to you for breakup advice at 11:45pm, wake up and give it then. Don’t hesitate. It will set the precedence that she can come to you next time when something happens, and the time after that. This kind of support and involvement are what real relationships are based on; it’s the important stuff in any friendship. It’s also the foundation of what you’ll build your mother-daughter friendship on for the next 30 years.
More than anything, just keep going– it will get better soon.
Arguing and being at odds– that’s the tough stuff of classic mother-daughter relationships. You just have to make it through in the teenage years. But if you stick with it, if you stay open with her and remind her every day that you love her, she will emerge from teenagehood at some point. It’s inevitable.
She will leave for school or for a life of her own and suddenly miss you, like nothing else she’s ever missed. And the two of you will be that much closer, because you’ve been by her side through everything. Mothers and daughters who fight, find themselves in the best of relationships a few years later.
So just keep going. It will get better soon. I promise.
Add to this list in the comments below. I want to know, what else have you done with your teenage daughters that you know they’ll love and appreciate you for later?
My daughter turns 13 in August. She is my one and only child so of course I’m going to spoil her some. I’m also a single mom and have been since the day she was born so it’s always been just us. She has always been the sweetest child. Last summer she started hanging out with a girl that goes to a different school but same city. She’s in the same grade as my daughter but is already 13. This girl is quite well known by the boys and the girls mother either knows and simply doesn’t care what her daughter does or is completely blind. Last summer she stayed all night at our house and ended up talking my daughter into sneaking out. This was in the middle of the night. They walked to this boys house(the girl that stayed all night liked this boy) and obviously was back home before the next morning. I had NO IDEA because my daughter has NEVER done that before. I had no clue they had done this until a friend of my daughters sent me a txt asking if I knew that she had snuck out. She sent me pictures of them leaving the boys house to walk home because I honestly didn’t believe it. Since then she has lied to me several times over things that she wouldn’t need to lie about, so I find it hard to trust her. Growing up I lived with my dad basically my entire life. I went to see my mom when she had time for me to come. I had an aunt and grandma that I saw every day but no mom in my every day life. I chalk my mothering skills up to the fact that I didn’t have mine in my daily life so I honestly have no idea what it’s like to be raised by a mom. That’s probably why I’m such a bad mom because I didn’t have mine around growing up. I try so hard to be her mom first and her friend last. I’m sure I have spoiled her so much and give her everything she wants which is why she doesn’t respect me. I try so hard to be the best mom I can be and feel like I have failed. I hate when she sees me cry after saying some of the things she says to me. My heart literally breaks every time. I miss her being little. Guess I better buckle up. It sounds like teenage years are rough although I don’t recall ever being rude and disrespectful. I was a pretty good child and teenager all the way around so I guess it’s just this generation of kids. Help me!
My daughter is 151/2 . Caught her vaping and believed it was marijuana because I said let me have a puff and she ran outside and threw it. Noticed the sensors were off the windows so I had them replaced the alarm went off at two in the morning. Her boyfriends a bad influence I don’t like him. Her dad‘s been MIA most of her life just came back a couple years now she’s living with him he lets her do whatever she wants she doesn’t talk to me doesn’t answer my phone calls or text my heart is broken
I’m so heartbroken. My daughter, only daughter, has been my world for 17.5 years. Then her dad, we have been divorced for 9 years, got a new girlfriend and our relationship changed drastically. She cares more about making the girlfriend happy. It seems like everything I have done for her the last 17.5 years doesn’t even matter because what the girlfriend and her dad have done the last 8 months is better. She is now 18 and headed to college in 2 weeks, I’m taking her to move in…not her dad and his girlfriend, but some how she is so much more appreciative for what they have done for her rather than everything my husband (of 4 years), her stepdad and I have done. One look at her social media accounts and you would think she never sees us, that she lives with her dad 100% of the time. It’s heartbreaking because it has always been her and I. I always assumed that college move in day would be incredibly hard and emotional but now I think I’ve moved past it and I’m ready for her to go. And that makes me sad but she has brought me to tears so many times the last 8 months that I’m just over it.
I stumbled across this article looking for some hope. My 17 year old daughter is always so laid back and chill with my husband, her dad. Even the tone of her voice is lighter than it is with me. I can literally hear her talking to her dad or brother and then I walk in the room and it’s like a switch goes off. Her face goes blank and her eyes shut off. Her conversation towards me becomes short and direct and closed off.
My daughter is fiercely independent. She never asks us for advice unless something is REALLY BAD then she runs to me with tears (not often) but it has to be bad for her to come to me for help. Normally I can’t even ask if anything is wrong or she’ll become annoyed that I’m asking.
I’m doing everything you suggested in your post although I am going to be more affectionate. I try to make sure I hug her kiss her and tell her I love her once a week as she often says she feels babied when I do but I’m going to increase it a bit and just hope that things change soon. I love my daughter to pieces. She’s a gorgeous girl, wicked smart and is so funny with a focused and determined mindset. She has so many plans for her future and it’s always so amazing to see her brush off things that would take most people MY age out of their entire confidence all because she has a goal. I just have to stay the course. Thank you for this.
Kelly D says
Promise? Although your article brought me to tears because it’s what I do literally every.single.day for my three teenaged daughters- and I’m so very exhausted and torn between loving them and just really not liking them at all… it gives me hope. Thank you.
Same here!! I read this looking for hope, I need it. My 13 year old is so far an easy one – my 15 1/2 year old – LORD HELP ME! I am really struggling and wonder if I will make it through sometimes. Am I the only one who just wants to leave for a few days (or weeks) hoping to be appreciated by the daughter who knows it all and wants to learn things on her own? She feels she doesn’t need parenting right now.
Christy Quinn says
I apprecite this comment, I only have one teenage daughter and it’s been quite a challenge since she was 12 years old. I do Love her, but I certainly do not like her. I know that sounds horrible. I have done all those things above on many many occasions and she never listens, maybe I’ve even stopped listening to her because of all the lies and pain that we’ve been put through.. I’d be happy if it were just her sneaking out of the house at midnight to attend a party, I’ve made it clear for her to always call me and I’ll be there, that my reactions to the truth ate far more accepting than any lie. Things she has done arent typical teenage behavior though.. her phone is the worst enemy in all of this. She litterally will be so happy and things are going so well in a moment and then we will find out she had a vape or smoked weed and therefore nicely we’ve taken her phone away.. on this One of many occasions she was so angry over the phone being taken, she went up stairs and desided to swallow several pills.. (all and any medications stay locked up in my bedroom and in our safe) she is NOT suicidal, I know her. She did this out of an angry reaction of soemthing she had no control over.. after about 20 mins she came downstairs and told us what she did. We rushed her to the ER, and after a few hours she was laughing and joking around, I guess at all the attention she felt she was getting. Me on the other hand, I was furious, even a few of the staff members at the hospital were able to see what this was.. I am the main provider for my children, I am divorced from her father and remarried to her step father since before she was 2 years old) her father doesn’t contribute in any way financially, so the thoughts racing through my mind were, how much money I’ll be paying on the deductible, and pure anger towards her over this sinceles, selfish choice.. I know this may sound harsh, but you do not know my daughter, it gets better though.. after about 4 hours or more at the ER, I had her biological father stay with her and I came home. He was comforting her and being so sweet to her, so I felt that was better for her, bc I was not.. once I left I came home and took a bath and just cried over this mess, I had been up since 5 am worked all day, right after I got home from work all this happened, as I lay down to go to bed or rest if even possible, I get a call from the father that the awful phycicsatrist, whom had seen her 1 time and prescribed her this specific medication had told the staff and mental health care reps to admit her to a mental hospital.. oh my gosh, right.. this was him covering his a** no one, including the mental health reps on hand saw this coming. This came from a man who saw my daughter all of 30 mins and he was able to make this call, (note: I can take the blame for allowing them to put her on a medication that was a mind enhancer of some sort and not researching it, big eye opener for me) the physicitrist that recommended and prescribed these meds, in less than 20 mins of the visit told her she was depressed, I should have taken her elsewhere, but at the time was so desperate for answers for her behaviors. Went with it. That’s my bad. I accept the poor choice of that decision) anyways I had to pack her a bag and return to the ER wait for 3 more hours. Ride in an ambulance, (which my daughter was excited about, can you freaking bel that?, she took none of this seriously,) all the way across town. Which when we arrived it was then 3 am the sat, before I got home from work that Friday when all this went down.. my ex husband joined me, I wasnt about to drive home after we checked her inafter being up almost 24 hours by then.. so it was just us 3, they were laughing and joking around while I was filling put paper work and giving them my insurance info and asking questions.. I was so angry. I didnt not do what God would have wanted me to do. Instead I voiced my anger and I didnt care who heard me or what I was saying.. then we were called in a room to be questioned by a professional about the incident and what caused it blah blah blah.. I had to sit there biting my tongue while listening to my manilipiutave daughter tell her version of things. I told the lady stright upx this is because we took her phone from her, she did this right after it happened, and immediately came and told us. This wasnt a cry for help. She had never done this before. She was acting in a fit of anger and did what she did, she did NOT want to die.. she knows that, so after about another hour we leave and drive home. I arrived at my house around 630 am. Took a shower. Turned off my ringer and got in bed.. this is just one of many incidents I have been through with her.. ALC 2 times which is more of a punishment for parents, she even had the nerve to tell me the 2nd time in ALC, which was in her new Highschool, that she liked it there.. she got 45 days, for desiding to take a THC laced gummies at a dinner before the homecoming dance that all of us parents made a huge deal out of for the kids. Bc we were so excited about it, ya know, the dress, the limo, the nice dinner, the pics at a beautiful location, the effort and money put into thos for them all thrown from the window in a matter of hours bc of her group, one girl and one guy proposed the group take these gummies before the dance. Mind you. Ryann. My daughter had already experienced and suffered consequences over weed prior and she was on the volleyball team as well. So representing her school. And she still desided to participate in the taking of the drug. Once they arrived at the school her boyfriend had become sick and went to the restroom and never came out. People started talking and realizing that something was going on, he had a horrible reaction to the drug and could have died. So they hot ALC for 45 days, they have to arrive at 7 am. No sooner no later, be picked up at 245 PM no sooner no later.. hmmmm. Another complete disruption of my husbands job and mine, because of her choices.. I know this is long. I could just go on and on, but I have so much anger inside of me over this and any time I’ve given her chances she tends to continue to fail.. she also made a teacher beleive that she was being abused at home which lead to a call to CPS.. that was fun. They even went to our sons school to interview him and he was pulled out of class bc of this.. she did this again just this thurs, 4/25/19. Over the phone of course the morning I was going to work she came in my room asking for the phone after I had made it clear the night before that she was not getting it and explained the reason why. All was good, until the next morning when she thought shed push me some more and manipulate me into giving her the phone, it doenst work on me any longer, it did in the past. But in the last year or more it has not. I’ve stood my ground. So I was getting ready and told her to leave my room and she just kept on and on and on and would not leave my room and I lost it. I grabbed her short on both sides of the clavicle bone and put my nose right up to hers and told her to get the “F” out of my room. Just being honest.
So went to work she still wouldnt stop talking crap up until I left the house.. at 755 am at work I started getting texts messages from her 16 year old friend on how I should parent and how wrong I was. Ok… whatever parent would allow a child to text an adult is a mystery to me, but hey look what poor teachers have to go through, they arent even allowed any type of correction or instruction much on kids these days. I also had a letter in the mail this day when the cops called me at work to come meet them at my home bc of the incident that morning. She had needed up reporting it to the principle. Her and this friend of her. The proncinples all know my daughter well. But this time a deputy called my office at about 130 and my boss answered, they identified themselves to my boss and he said shes with a customer I’ll have her get right with you please hold. And my boss told me you have to take this call chris. It sounds pretty serious.. so I took it, I kinda expected it already anyway. But I didnt expect for her to tell them I checked her.. ok.. so spend an hour or 2 with he awesome deputy and of course she too realized the story that my daughter gave was inaccurate. Before I interviewed with her I am sure she had already knew bc of the answers my daughter had given her about the strangling part. Then luckily I had mentioned the t shirt my daughter had been wearing and told them it should be loose around the neck and it was upstairs on her bed and the cip was able to photograph that. Plus my wedding ring was what had scratched my daughter on her neck.. anyway. This is just a little bit of some of the thing my husband and I have dealt with over the years and I’m just trying to figure out how I can possibly have a relationship with her and be patient after all of this. And I do try. I do a lot for her and talk to her often I always say I love you etc.. that isnt lacking, it may be less of the affection and comfort now days but it never was lacking.. there are many other incidents I could list. But this is too long already..
Eva Luna says
I read through your comment and feel very bad for the situation you find yourself in. Just a quick word of advice. Cut your daughter loose. She has grown up to be this lying, manipulative, selfish girl and unfortunately, short of a miracle it is going to be very difficult to change her attitude now.
Kids in western countries, especially in the US (where I guess you live) have developed an enormous sense of entitlement due to lack for any meaningful disciplinary measures both at home and in the school. It doesn’t help that parents are constantly having to walk on eggshells around their kids. They have to worry about the CPS, the school authorities, the police, etc. breathing down their neck at the slightest pretext. Of course, the authorities need to take every complaint seriously as rampant child abuse is a reality. However, it doesn’t help when children/teenagers have learnt to misuse the system for their benefit / revenge.
Your daughter seems to have developed a narcissistic personality and if everything you said is true, then you have a lot of suffering ahead of you. If you are a genuinely good person, and exasperated at this turn of events, do yourself a favour and let her face the consequences of her actions. You can no longer protect her and the more you try, the more he is going to rebel against you. For your own mental wellbeing, step aside, and force her to take responsibility for her own actions. If, she calls the CPS again, tell them that you are fed up and wouldn’t mind if they took her away. Let her get a taste of the system and hopefully after some life lessons, she might truly understand the value of a good mother who is trying to do her best.
Good luck to you lady. Take care!! Either way you are looking at some tough times ahead.
I took my daughter on vacation-Paris and London nand she had fun but was always on her phone texting friends. We made plans to go to a different country every summer before she goes to college.
Now she’s going to be 16 and refused to go on vacation with me -she Has all kinds of excuses for the summer. I gave her another 2weeks to decide and the answer is the same. I have decided to go by myself. I am hurt that she has no consideration that I make time and effort for us . Any thoughts?
Girl, we all on the same boat.. My 16 year old is constantly on her phone. Although you’re hurt, remember that you are the adult in this relationship and you have so much more experience in life than she does. At 16 our friends were the most important thing in our little lives. She just wants to spend some time during the summer with them. But don’t feel bad, go and have a good time! She will realize what she’s missing out.
I feel like this quite often, but I try to remember my own advice, too. lol
All in all don’t lose your enthusiasm for her or for your life because she’s being a 16yo. Stay strong sister! 🙂