When a girl enters adolescence, a lot of things change for parents too. It’s a lot different for girls than for boys. Parents suddenly grow more protective and start to tie her down with a lot more don’t do this, don’t do thats. And trouble begins. they seem to completely forget that they’ve been there and done that too. Here’s what they need to understand.
Girls to women
From being completely dependent on them during childhood, parents suddenly see a need in their child for independence. This leads to adjustment issues. Also most women [mothers] enter menopause while their children are headed for the journey into adolescence. Each is at a vulnerable stage and careful handling and timely attention is crucial.
Gender has psychological and cultural connotation on the basis of which, different behavioural patterns are adopted for boys and girls in our culture. This creates a different set of expectations from girls, through the teenage years to womanhood. On reaching puberty, you may feel like suddenly introducing a list of “to behave like this” behaviours. But don’t ignore their emotional maturity which is happening simultaneously.
Understand that adolescence for girls is filled with stresses and strains, due to physiological and hormonal components, and according to their social and cultural context. It is a journey of finding the ‘self’ comprising the physical, emotional, social, and vocational aspects. The self [identity] develops on the basis of baggage of thoughts, emotions and actions which are carried through childhood and expectations about the future. It is during this time that your daughter will fight for autonomy, exploration, and experimentation. That is natural.
Your daughter’s mental faculties of reasoning, judgement, self-image, and opinions about anything and everything are developing. It’s okay if she doesn’t accompany you to social dos, as preferences of socialising in public shift from being with parents to being with peers and friends. But you still remain the usual support system in a girl’s life.
Your daughter who once considered you as her best friend may start sharing secrets with her friends including talks about attraction to the opposite sex. This growing emotional closeness with friends may leave you feeling insecure. You need to understand that your daughter finds it easy to communicate with friends because she is emotionally less attached to them rather than she is with you.
At the same time, monitor the group of friends your daughter is spending time with. Try not to spy, respect her freedom but know the company she is keeping and don’t delay in communicating your concerns to your daughter.
You have a right to lay down rules for the members of the entire family. Make sure that each member obeys rules and that she is not the only one who is restricted. Create a happy blend of freedom and responsibility.
As parents, we want our children to pursue careers that fulfil our incomplete dreams and desires. There is nothing wrong in wishing that but be careful in imposing your dreams onto your adolescent daughter. Every teenage has a unique aptitude, interest, mental abilities and personality which need to be considered while making career decisions. Parents are aware of the strengths and weaknesses of their children. But there may be certain unexplored positive aspects of the child which can be found with the help of psychological tests and tools.
You may seek professional opinion from qualified counselling psychologists. As parents, it is important that we refrain from extending differential treatment to teenage daughters and sons.
Be prepared for your daughter’s mood swings, which may annoy you, and make your attempts to keep the family fabric intact look futile. Try and understand she is still confused about the changes in her body and the way the world views her. Hormones and confusion will affect her moods. Try and reason with her, be patient and listen to what she has to say instead of just advising.
We need to bear in mind that every adolescent passes this stage differently and hence every parent needs to apply different and unique strategies to deal with their children. Also, try not to be overprotective; let your daughter learn about the stresses and strains of life. Strengthen yourself to face rebellion from your daughter at any suggestions you make to her. Don’t take it as failure of your parenting attempts. What you need to develop is your consistency and hope as a parent, and never to lose yourself as a person. You are an individual with thoughts, beliefs, values and emotions yourself in addition to being a parent. This awareness helps you nurture yourself and your daughter.
You may have friends who have adolescent daughters and sharing experiences will help you bolster your skills and helps you learn new ways of parenting.
Lastly, remember that daughters have an equal right to make their lives and to enjoy equal status and dignity in the society. We as parents have a moral responsibility to see that societal pressures and gender role stereotypes do not come in the way of our daughter’s progress, at work and in the society as a whole.
By Elsie Gabriel
Most youngsters think it’s important to have a friendship with your mother, especially while growing up, but few can manage to establish it. There is a mother-daughter duo that’s already managed to do that.
Ketki Dave, television actor on being a role model for her daughter
Whether you know it or not, you are a role model for your child. Research shows that an overwhelming number of young people look up to their parents and family members as role models. I believe in ‘Show and Tell’. Ask yourself what this means to you and it will a great daily lesson. As a parent, you may have more influence on your child than you think. By setting a good example of healthy living, you can help your children make healthy life choices. Be positive, be strong, judge every situation in life and then handle with care. My mother passed this to me, which I have ingrained in my daughter. Positive traits are vital teaching tools, even my children will embody this hopefully.
Humour is an important element of life. We often forget to laugh and grow old without having fun. If I instil the importance of laughter and humour, I think life will be easy to sail through for them.
Ridhi Dave, theatre actor and daughter of Ketki Dave
I love the way my mother instilled very simple things into my life. Healthy living, eating right, even the correct amount of food! Today being healthy and staying healthy only comes from family habits. I was always taught to think straight and make honesty the best policy. A role model is understanding, not condescending.
Elsie Gabriel is a Mumbai-based writer. Her key areas of interest are travelling and exploring nature
How should teens handle parent’s role in their life?