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Parent Quiz

 

WHAT DOES THE ADOLESCENT DAUGHTER NEED FROM YOU ?


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…

To have you as a friend, confidante and guide, with whom she can communicate freely without any fear or embarrassment.
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This, 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 adolescent years.

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.
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A 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.

 

A good role model in you, one she can respect and emulate.
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Being 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.

 

Honest, and as far as possible, accurate answers to her doubts and
queries as she grows older, instead of brushing them aside.
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Providing 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 the query.
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Every mother has been similarly cornered many a time. What does one do? From mother’s experiences, what emerges is that :
It is always best to acknowledge the question, instead of brushing it aside.
If 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.
If 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.
The 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.

 

For you to increasingly treat her like a grown up and not a mere child, respecting her feelings and opinions as an individual.
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You 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 an explanation.
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Make 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.
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Your 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 then.
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Some 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?

 

An open mind to understand and appreciate her perspective, her needs and demands, which will be so different from when you were young.
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Understand 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 security.

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.

 

For you to treat her equally, at par with her brothers.
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It 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 lifestyle.

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
responsibility?

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.

 

Be 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.
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Establish 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.
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She 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…
- Mother

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

 

Independence to make her own decisions, by placing trust and confidence in her and believing that she can make sound judgments.
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Jyoti's 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.

 

Your patient understanding at all times, especially when she makes mistakes. Your guidance to enable her to learn from her mistakes.
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They 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.
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Though 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.

 

Space and privacy, especially with regard to her choice of clothes, hobbies, friends.
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As 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.
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Moreover, 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 out.
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Adolescents 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.

 

A conviction that come-what-may you are on her side and that she will always have your unstinting love and support.
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Remember 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 greatest teacher.
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Much 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.
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As 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.