Updated: Jun 4, 2020
Romantic Relationships, Teen Drama, Self-Image, Tough Conversations...
A teenage girl's life is full of emotions, friend-drama, guy-drama, self-image, and lots of conflicting and confusing culture messages... These are the topics discussed in Pt. 2 of A Girl's Self-Worth. Click HERE to listen to the episode and then return to this blog post for detailed notes about the episode. This two-part series is a discussion with guest Victoria Dahilig, youth director in Christian ministry, who also happens to be my husband and I's oldest daughter. She was on the podcast once before, episode 6, which is our highest rated episode called, "Parenting Middles and Teens: Overcoming Negative Self-Talk & What your teens aren't telling you."
The good news is, it's not too early and it's not too late to have an impact on your daughter's self-worth, your relationship with her, and her principles about her relationships. However, there's some tough news also...
As a loving mom, I know you want to have a positive impact in how she navigates these years of decisions that will shape the rest of her life. I hate to be the barer of difficult news, but your influence is actually fragile. The older our kids get, the less we have a free-pass to their heart and mind. There are some keys that will unlock your access to the intimate view of your daughter's heart. As the mom of four girls (and three boys), I've had times where my teen had made her (or his) heart off limits to me. My parenting communication style had played a role in shutting the door and locking it. I may be a mistaking mom, but I'm also a pivoting mom. I learn from my mistakes and God brings healing! I've said it before and I'll say it here and I'm sure I'll say it again in the future - we have to maintain the right to influence our child's heart. So, here's a guide that may help.
Guide to Reaching Your Teen's Heart:
*Keep your emotions low to keep your influence high. We're tempted to react with strong emotions, but those emotions cloud their ability to hear your message.
*You listen first. They're more open to listening to you, if you've truly listened to them. You're listening to understand where they're coming from, to see things from their perspective, to identify their values in the situation, to recognize their motives. Ask questions that show you will honor their vulnerability. Send the message that you value their thoughts and feelings.
*Be trustworthy with their heart. Don't manipulate, threaten, bribe, twist words, disrespect, ignore, argue, or react to the words they're saying. Sure, on the inside you might be freaking out, but that better not be what you're doing on the outside, or you'll lose the opportunity to influence them that is coming soon. Wait. Take a deep a breath and keep listening.
*Pray while you listen. We parents are completely inadequate for the task of reading someone else's heart and knowing how to effectively shape it. But we access to the One who Created that heart and who searches it completely now and knows the future from all angles. Let the Lord Lead your Listening.
*Humbly share from your heart but only AFTER you have listened for understanding, prayed earnestly for direction, and displayed calm caring.
*Be real with your kids - let them know all the thoughts and emotions you're battling on the inside in trying to figure out the best way to parent in this situation. This helps them see you as human and it reveals your heart to them. It helps them to see that you are trying your best to be what they need you to be and it shows them that you have THEIR best interest at heart.
* Parents have to open the door of respectful dialog before our teens are ready to receive your gift of experience and wisdom. Once you've been vulnerable about your own mistakes, fears, and wrestlings, they will be ready to receive your message.
Oh, mom, you won’t get this perfect every time. I still don’t even though I’ve been a mom for over 26 years. With my two daughters that are still at home ages 10 and 15, I still react too quickly or too emotionally sometimes. There are times that I shove my perspective before seeking her heart first. Sometimes I forget that I need to open the door of dialog before I hand my child the gift of my experience & wisdom. But I will say this - I have been the mom whose older child didn't care what I had to say because I had overreacted too many times, pushed my perspective before understanding theirs, and failed to be humbly understanding before being boldly honest. I have learned the hard way that parents earn the right to influence their older children. I still don't get it all right, but I get it right often enough that they know my intent is selfless love and that their heart is safe with me.
MAKING THE PATH CLEAR: Know where you stand on key issues AHEAD OF TIME so you can begin NOW influencing her perspective, Here's a few of the perspectives that I've found beneficial:
1. Celebrate the Milestone of "being ready to learn self-control and patience". When your daughter has her first crush or finds herself attracted to a certain guy, this is a valuable training opportunity! It's your opportunity to celebrate that God must have decided that your daughter is ready for the next stage of life - the stage of learning self-control of her mind and guarding of heart. As adults we don't just lose ourselves in romantic pursuits of every guy that walks by. We have learned to guard our heart and preserve our mind for the one guy that we have chosen to be devoted to, if we are married. Or, if we're single we've learned that drama isn't fulfilling and pleasant when we pursue a new guy on the whim of an attraction. No, we want to be selective and patient. And that's exactly what we want to teach our daughters too. Here's a great resource to help with this goal if you have younger girls - elementary through middle school: The Princess Kiss: A Story of God's Gift of Purity.. The companion discussion book and Raising a Modern Day Princess is a book for parents of teen girls or pre-teen girls.
2. God before Guys - don't get caught up too quickly in romantic relationships. A girl longs to be adored, so they are easily drawn in to scenarios of romance all around them.
Hollywood (and most pop-culture books, music videos, and song lyrics) are telling your daughter that happiness and fulfillment comes almost entirely from being desired by a guy and by experiencing romantic love.
Your daughter's peers have gotten the message loud & clear from that romance is job #1 in a girl's life and that has led to being obsessed with romance and boys' attention, even if it's not healthy attention.
And before long, manipulating a boy's attention and heart easily becomes paramount in a girl's self-worth.
God designed romance and sex and they are a wonderful gift. Every good gift