Tuesday, December 4, 2012

What You Don't Know About Your Dear Teenage Daughter

I once read that the best way to raise a teenage girl is to wrap the house in barbed wire. Teenagers are full of life, these girls can be such a pleasure to be around. They are charming, sensitive, sweet-natured and loving. They can also be impossibly selfish, outrageously rude and hideously moody.

Perhaps you think you have a good girl, I'm not disputing that fact but just remember that as miniature women their instincts are quite strong. While you may think you know every trick in the book, your teenage daughter is capable of out-smarting you every time. Why? - because, unlike the average son - she can read your every move. (Call it female intuition) Teenage daughters might do anything to grab the tiniest bit of freedom. So if it’s your job to lay down the boundaries; it’s theirs to try to push them. Quite simply, the temptations for teenage girls are so huge that the only way to cope is to be one step ahead all the time. Teenage girls are constantly tempted by the wild side of life. Any parent who ever doubts that the world of the teenage girl isn't a scary place to live in only has to switch on the TV and take a look at Nikki Minaj, the self-professed barbie and her followers who she warmly refers to as "Barbz" (let's not even talk about her lyrics).
It’s normal for teenagers to push the boundaries. In fact, this is an important part of their journey towards independence. Developing independence and responsibility is a key part of growing up. To do this, your child needs to test out independent ideas and ways of behaving. Sometimes this will involve disagreeing with you, giving you a bit of ‘attitude’, pushing the limits and boundaries you set, wanting to be more like friends and even taking risks. Although it can be stressful for you, this is all a normal and common part of adolescence. And this phase will pass. This is the time they should forge a strong relationship with God that will develop more through out their lives. Some of the changes in teenage behavior are explained by the way teenage brains develop. The parts of the teenage brain responsible for impulse control don’t fully mature until about age 25. This means teenagers are more likely to make impulsive, emotional decisions without thinking through the consequences. They can be sensitive, moody and unpredictable. When you have daughters the most effective method is to become their best friend from a very early age! If you don't show them love they often seek it elsewhere and this need is so innate that they won't stop till they think they've found it. If they trust you they will tell you what is going on with them. Building this trust is the most important part of your relationship. 

I've had teens discuss things with me that they wouldn't discuss with their parents because they were afraid of how they would react. One girl told me her mum was so distant and forthright that by the time she got into university her mum wanted her to open up to her in order for them to be close but it was too late. There was no room for that level of closeness because she had already built her perceptions of what she thought would be her mum's reaction to the subject of tattoos, boys, sex, clubbing etc. It is not easy but firmness (when needed) and being extremely accommodating and open with them ensures that they feel "easy" in your presence. 

Concentrate on an open discussion of facts — for example, that tattoos and facial piercings might deter potential employers.’ Call me cynical, but how many teenage girls do you know who can think beyond next weekend? You might want to smack your children a lot at around the age of "6 - 10 years" (that's when we "set" the "ground rules" in your parent/child relationship). But also endeavor to be very close to them (by constant reassurance and open display of love, giving gifts, outdoor activities together, like cycling, swimming, e.t.c) around that period. So that when you just frown, they already know someone has CROSSED THE LINE! ( over the years, my Dad "designed" a special type of FROWN that could even stop a lion in its tracks" ). He didn't even need to say ANYTHING, talk less of shouting! 

It's better if our kids can be our "friends" instead of being "afraid" of us because they would outgrow that "fear" one day.... and what would you have left? Personally, I find one of the most successful pieces of advice you can ever give your daughters is always to look out for their friends. Friendship plays a major part of their lives at this stage you always hear " My friend did this, my friend is allowed to go there, or wear this etc"

 By teaching them to be careful about who those friends are in the first place and to be careful about digesting information (advice) their friends give, half the problem is solved

Ijeoma Olujekun

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