Build Trust with your Teenage Daughter
Teenage years are perhaps the most turbulent times of a child's life. For parents, this is a trying time because handling adolescent children is a different ball-game. Things are perhaps a little more complicated when the child standing on the threshold of her ‘mean’ teen years, is a girl. Parents often find it difficult to master the art of handling their daughter, when she is gradually moving away from her ribbons, doll-houses, and fairy-tales - and entering a more complicated age.
Adolescence comes with its own complexities, transformations and adaptations. Needless to say, that not only the girl but also her parents are more often than not, befuddled and mystified by the metamorphosis. The one who held hands with you is suddenly slamming her door on your face, the one who readily trusted you with her secrets, suddenly begins to hide things from you; the one who laughed away the little woes of life, now mostly wears a sullen expression and sighs exasperatedly. A teenage girl is going through many changes within herself- physiologically and psychologically- as well as in terms of the society. Studies and researches have revealed that an alarming percentage of teenage girls are prone to self-mutilation and suicide, apart from eating disorders (anorexia, bulimia or binge eating) and major depression. All this is accounted by the fact that they suffer from a period of utter confusion. They experience the pressure of the rigid conceptions of gender roles: how women are “supposed to behave”. They have an inner subconscious urge to break free from the norms, but are unable to do so. Their self-esteem declines sharply, and they dwell in a continual state of anxiety and stress.
During this stage, they also struggle desperately to reconcile the reality of their physical selves with the unrealistic and unattainable media projection of feminine slimness. The teen girl is uncertain of her moral standards, her faith in people and ideals are being constantly throttled, and she finds it almost impossible to trust anyone, even her parents. Heavy peer pressure, substance abuse, and a host of academic and career dilemmas only worsen the situation making her feel miserably lonely and helpless.
However, at this stage, if parents lend emotional support and a friendly concern to their daughter, she can gradually get over the turbulence of this age. Parents should not be too judgmental or cynical in their approach. Rather, they should try to understand her at an equal level, remembering that they too have been through this stage. A balance between giving her adequate space as well as guiding her prudently is essential. She needs the right amount of attention and supervision, but overdoing it might be treated as encroachment or intrusion. Parents should be careful not to draw comparison with her siblings, friends or anybody else for that matter, as it will only lower her self-image even further. Rather, they should encourage her, and inculcate feelings of competence and positivity within her. It is also very crucial to give her a patient and sensitive listening. Teenagers often feel the strong urge to vent their thoughts, but are unable to confide in anyone.
Parents should also not discourage their adolescent daughter’s private social life. If she has friends and hangs out with them, it cannot adversely affect her relationship with her parents, unless the latter choose to view it as a threat. It is very necessary that they should, in no way, belittle her feelings regarding the different ups and downs in her life at this stage, such as break-ups, being let down by a friend and the like. They should express genuine sympathy and make her feel that she is not alone in her ordeals. Last but not the least, parents should try to pose as good role models, and not simply come across as figures of authority. As their little princesses move towards adulthood, they should be given the due respect and dignity, without excessive reprimands or excessive liberty.
The bottom line is, parents should act like mentors not dictators to their teenage daughters. Chalking out strict regulations will only stifle the relationship and make your child withdraw further into her world from which you are excluded . Parents should be a part of their children's trials and errors, and be by their side unconditionally by empowering them with all the knowledge that they can. Teens are bound to make mistakes at such a vulnerable age. Let them stumble, hold their hands and help them get up and move on. This way, when they leave their teen years behind, they will emerge as strong, smart and independent women.