Even as your daughter
is seeking her own identity and gaining independence,
you continue to be an essential resource during
her adolescent years. Though she will frequently
look to peers for advice, your involvement will
be very important in terms of teaching and advising
her. As your daughter stands on the threshold of
womanhood, your presence and participation in her
life has a very significant impact, if not in shaping
her final destiny, certainly her personality. As
someone once said, God can't be everywhere, therefore
he made mothers”. Therefore, your young daughter
will demand a lot from you. And then some more…
have you as a friend, confidante and guide,
with whom she can communicate freely without
any fear or embarrassment.
without any doubt, will be your most significant
achievement vis-à-vis your adolescent
daughter. And one has to work on this from
the very beginning, much, much before her
You cannot suddenly be a friend or confidant
when your daughter is 12 years old…she
has to talk to you about anything and everything
from early on.
What I keep working on constantly is that
the communication channel between us be always
open. She should be able to come and speak
to me about anything at all.
common dilemma for mothers is how to balance
between being a friend and the disciplinarian
at the same time. Many mothers themselves
share that for these few years they find themselves
at loggerheads with their daughters, which
eventually settle down during the latter's
adult years. It must be remembered that it
is during these years that your daughter is
most vulnerable. She seeks and needs reassurance
about so many things. Therefore it is most
critical that she be able to talk to you without
fear of being reprimanded or evaluated.
Just work on being able to accept whatever
she says without reacting instantly, without
being judgemental. If you disagree, or are
disappointed, please do tell her and explain
why you feel that way. Perhaps if you hear
her out, you will understand her thought or
action better, and then be able to deal with
the matter at hand. Instead of -
How could you be so stupid?
Where did you hear that nonsense from?
No decent girl will behave in this manner,
you cannot…I never did.
It might also help to remember that your times
were very different from what your daughter
is experiencing. The exposure these days is
immense, as is peer pressure.
good role model in you, one she can respect
a positive role model, one who practices what
she preaches, assumes high priority because
adolescents, more than younger children, become
keenly aware of inconsistencies between the
words and behaviour of parents. With their
ability to observe and their enhanced understanding,
as well as a desire to declare their independence,
adolescents tend to point out the weak links
of adult logic and challenge any
form of hypocrisy. They then withhold their
respect, refusing to obey the adult. It is
especially traumatic if children experience
this with their own parents. Even white lies
like having your child say you are not at
home when you are, make them question your
honesty. You may not be able to impress on
your daughter to be respectful, if she finds
you being rude towards your mother- in- law.
and as far as possible, accurate answers to
her doubts and
queries as she grows older, instead of brushing
answers to your daughter’s numerous
questions is going to be one of your challenging
tasks. Time and again, she will turn to you
with whys and hows. Every mother will recognize
how stressful that can be, not just the number
of questions posed, but also the nature of
mother has been similarly cornered many a
time. What does one do? From mother’s
experiences, what emerges is that :
is always best to acknowledge the
question, instead of brushing it aside.
one has the time, one should address
it then and there. If not, tell her
that explaining will take some time
and being currently occupied, you
will do so later.
you do not know the answer, it is
best to say so, assuring that you
will find out information and share
the same with her. This is much safer
than proving inaccurate information.
greatest difficulty is with embarrassing
questions, which are usually sex related.
Most mothers are unable to respond
to this, while some think it unnecessary
for an adolescent. However, if you
do not tell her, she will find out
somehow and that may well be inappropriate
and inaccurate. But then, how much
to tell? how to tell? Experts say
that in answering such questions,
be guided by your child. If your 9
year old is asking, “What is
sex?” she is perhaps ready for
some information related to the topic.
Begin with very basic information
like sex is one way in which grown
ups can show that they love each other.
If not already done, this question
is an indicator that you must explain
to her about the body and the gender
differences, for her to understand
any further. Take the help of a book
on the human body with good quality
pictures and take your daughter through
the relevant sections. She may continue
asking questions, which you must address
as simply and in the best possible
way you can. If you are able to overcome
your initial embarrassment, you will
have few problems. As for your daughter's
ability to receive the information,
she will be fine if you take her through
the paces gradually.
Majority of the mothers hope and pray
that teachers in school will do the
needful. Likewise many of the schools
perceive this to be the parent's domain.
The child, unfairly poised in between
is left without any recourse. Even
if some schools are sensitive to the
issue, students are left with many
unanswered queries. Aspects dealing
with attitudes and beliefs especially,
which differ from family to family,
are best imparted by the mother.
you to increasingly treat her like a grown
up and not a mere child, respecting her feelings
and opinions as an individual.
could involve your 10 year old in decision
making, initially in simple matters of house-keeping,
spending her pocket money as she desires,
then gradually progress to more complicated
issues like planning her own study schedule,
holiday destinations, purchases for herself,
other family members, or for home. One mother
mentioned how her 10 year old having been
given the choice, opted to plan her own schedule,
made it and stuck by it diligently. But having
sought her opinion, do respect it. Please
do not trash it or treat it lightly without
her responsible for some specific tasks at
home initially, then outside of home. Even
8 year olds take pride in being accountable
for chores like laying the table, helping
around the house, walking the dog, etc. A
little older, and she can pay her own fees
at school, shop for you, help with paper work,
and much else. Take some time to provide clear
instructions as to what is expected of your
child. Praise her when the job is done well
and she will be happy to do a lot more for
you. Also allow for mistakes, which must be
addressed calmly, so that they are not repeated.
Yelling and shouting, using words like How
could you?, I knew you couldn't do it! will
serve no purpose really. Instead it will go
a long way in undermining your child's confidence
and self esteem.
teenager will soon have an opinion on everything,
from the colour of the cushions, your clothes,
her sibling's mannerisms, performance of the
support staff at home, the timings you keep…the
list is endless. As a mother, one tends to
treat much of this with irritation and disdain,
often resorting to a 'shut up and mind your
own business'. Instead, one has to respect
her opinion especially in matters pertaining
to her. However, if she tends to be rude and
abrupt, free with unwarranted criticism she
must be firmly asked to behave herself. It
is important to remember that as she grows,
so will her interest and involvement in things
around her, which is healthy. Parents of older
teenagers often complain that they are too
selfabsorbed. You will perhaps experience
that phase too, and long for these comments
adolescents mention being embarrassed by the
child like manner their parents use while
addressing them or speaking with
them, especially in front of outsiders. While
mothers would love to cling on to the years
of cute innocence, one has to gradually make
the transition along with your growing child,
treating them as young adults. Remember, how
you hated to be called by your nickname in
a public place?
open mind to understand and appreciate her
perspective, her needs and demands, which
will be so different from when you were young.
and accept the restlessness of your adolescent
child. This is a period of dynamism and discontent.
They want to adopt so many different, new
ideas, especially those conforming to the
peer group. Make allowances for issues which
do not compromise your daughter's safety and
Priya, 15 years old, wanted to wear an off
shoulder dress for her first disco night with
her friends. If her mother got angry, unreasonable
and dictatorial, it would have perhaps made
Priya more defiant. But instead of doing that,
her mother patiently and subtly found out
the evening's plan, about her friends, without
seeming too inquisitive. She also explained
to her the boundaries of her freedom, and
more importantly did not transmit any fears
in her mind. Priya was happy, she hugged her
mother and voluntarily said she would return
home early and would be in touch with her
on the mobile.
you to treat her equally, at par with her
is a sad state of affairs that even today
many of us tend to indulge the male child,
sometimes, even at the expense of our daughters.
We often have dual standards for our sons
and daughters, prescribing distinct sets of
rules for girls and boys. While we often justify
these rules with the claim that they are for
our daughter's safety, that is not always
true. Somewhere, a pattern has been set, establishing
the male child as being more important, more
superior in the total scheme of things, and
many mothers adhere to this.
Gita was awarded a scholarship in school and
was given an opportunity to get further training
in football at which she excelled. But her
parents objected and remarked that football
was not a girls game. The following year,
Gita's younger brother was given the same
opportunity and the parents without any hesitation,
agreed to send him for training. Gita hated
being a girl and rebelled by adopting male
attire and mannerisms.
Although there have been constant attempts
to project gender equality by social activists
and by the media showing girls succeeding
in all domains, even flying airplanes and
fixing tractors, yet by and large the society
expects the girls to be docile, submissive,
skilled in cooking, etc. Their ambitions for
professional and demanding careers are not
taken seriously. Their academic excellence
is played down, for if they are too educated
the parents may find it difficult to find
a husband for her. All this leads to suppressing
her natural abilities and restricting her
The difference between sons and daughters
may even be manifested in the way they are
expected to handle chores around the house.
Very often daughters are naturally expected
to help out whether it be washing dishes or
dusting, whereas it is unthinkable to both
family and the son himself that he would ever
undertake such tasks. Is this really being
fair to your children? Should they not be
given equal opportunity as well as
If your daughter feels that she is being discriminated
against, like many of today's adolescent girls,
she may react by rebelling. Today's adolescent
girls demand equality with their male counterparts
and rightly so because today's girls have
proved themselves in every sphere of life.
Therefore, you owe it to your daughter to
treat her equally, to provide her with the
same opportunities as her brother, never discriminating
only on a gender basis. If you are restricting
her movements because you are concerned for
her physical safety, explain your reasons
and she will be far more understanding.
able to explain the reason behind the rules
and restrictions she has to comply with, so
that she understands they are for her safety
and not just to inhibit her.
the rules and boundaries by explicating their
rationale, by discussing the basic family
values and explaining their significance.
If your daughter is made to feel a part of
the process, she will comply more willingly.
needs to understand that these rules are not
intended to curb her freedom, but ensure her
safety. Your concern will convince your daughter
to take the necessary precautions.
Once I turned 12, my mother forbade me
from visiting any neighbour's house when alone.
I was stupefied not knowing what had got into
her. If only she had explained…
My 15 year old daughter wants to go and
study with her friends, most of who are boys.
If I say no straightaway she will never listen.
I'll have to explain to her gradually.
- Mother of a 15 year old
to make her own decisions, by placing trust
and confidence in her and believing that she
can make sound judgments.
ambition was to become an aerospace engineer,
but her parents wanted her to become a doctor
for they felt that aerospace engineering was
not for girls, and she would not be able to
cope. She did take her premedical tests and
got admission in a prestigious medical college,
but always remained depressed, often irritable,
avoided company and did not fare too well
in her studies. Finally, the parents realized
their mistake and let her pursue the career
of her choice. Their mistake was that instead
of encouraging her, Jyoti's parents, doubted
her capabilities and imposed their views.
And this mistake affected her mentally, as
well as impacted her self- esteem.
patient understanding at all times, especially
when she makes mistakes. Your guidance to
enable her to learn from her mistakes.
say 'You live, you learn'. Do not try to keep
your daughter from making mistakes. Do not
live her life for her. By all means, let it
be known what you consider to be acceptable
or unacceptable, but allow her freedom in
what she believes in. View her in terms of
her capabilities rather than her inabilities.
You have got to let your kid do things her
way, even if you know she will fail sometimes.
you may want to keep your daughter from making
mistakes, often the same mistakes you made
when young, refrain from insisting on telling
her what to do. There is much that she will
have to find out the hard way. She will learn
from experience like you did. What is important
that you are there for her when she realizes
the same and needs understanding.
and privacy, especially with regard to her
choice of clothes, hobbies, friends.
a parent one should learn to let go as your
daughter grows older, one should loosen up
and give her the space she needs. It is only
when she feels comfortable that she will seek
your company and want to spend time with you.
The more you nag her or try to control her,
the less you will see of her.
as your daughter grows she needs both physical
and emotional space to discover herself, her
likes and dislikes. Leave her alone and give
her space and privacy, and you will find her
thriving. When she needs you, she will reach
are concerned about privacy. They like to
be secretive, about their activities, their
feeling and possessions. They keep their diaries
locked, like their telephonic conversations
to be out of hearing distance from their family
and often lock themselves up behind closed
doors. They absolutely hate it when you look
into their cupboards or drawers or open their
letters and read them.
If your daughter talks and confides in you,
sharing her secrets, do realize that you have
achieved one of the most significant tenets
of being a successful mother. Enjoy the experience
and cherish your daughter's trust in you.
conviction that come-what-may you are on her
side and that she will always have your unstinting
love and support.
even if she does not acknowledge it, your
daughter needs your love, support and help
resulting in a trustful open relationship.
You can be a friend to your daughter. Mothers
can view this as an opportunity to grow as
you help your daughter tide over the turbulent
adolescent period. It will give you an opportunity
to learn more about letting go, unconditional
love, grace, wisdom, joy, patience and sacrifice.
This phenomenal task of parenting can be your
of what we have been talking about may seem
like an impossible to-do list, but has actually
been achieved by many a
mother out there. Mothers of adolescent children,
who had to work at being successful parents,
who were often ridden with self - doubt, not
knowing how to get through the traumatizing
teenage years of their children. True, just
because you are a mother does not make you
an expert. And neither are there any established
parenting techniques set by experts, which
can make the job easy. However, when it comes
to your own child, you are the expert! No
one else knows your son or daughter as well
as you do.
a mother you can view this as an opportunity
to grow up as you help your daughter tide
over the turbulent adolescent period. It will
give you an opportunity to learn more about
letting go unconditional love, grace, wisdom,
joy, patience and sacrifice. Sometimes, through
trial and error, other times by observing
and learning, the task of parenting an adolescent
can be your greatest teacher.