I have two girls, each with her own personality quirks and differences. While I have a good relationship with both of them now, I wonder what will happen in a few years when they become awkward, volatile teenagers. It is especially important to remain close to our children when we are so far away from our primary support system, our family. Our children navigate their teenage years in cultures they may not fully understand with parents who share these same struggles.
Laura Markham, PhD, wrote down some of the things mothers can do to remain close to their girls as they go through adolescence. Her practical tips should help mothers maintain a relationship with their girls during a time when they need us most.
Navigating the tween years
Parents often ask me how to get along with their suddenly volatile preteen daughter. It’s a shock when your previously sweet little girl starts throwing tantrums again. Twelve year old girls can be moody, overdramatic, self-centered, focused almost solely on friends, close-mouthed, surly, back-talking and condescending to parents. They can, of course, also be mature, affectionate and delightful, but at their worst they’re a cross between the most challenging aspects of toddlers and teens.
The bad news is that your tween’s developing body is flooded by hormones; her need to discover herself and her place in the world takes priority over the other things she values (like her family and schoolwork), and she probably can’t acknowledge how much she still loves and needs you, because she’s working hard to feel “grown up” and independent. The good news is that if you can accept this new situation and adjust your parenting accordingly, the tween years are the perfect time to solidify your relationship, before she heads into the teen years.
Tips to make parenting your tween girl less dramatic, and more delightful:
1. Be willing to change. You can’t parent the way you did when she was little; it just isn’t appropriate or effective. If she gets testy, that’s a signal that you need to adjust your parenting style.