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 should be treasured and protected. And in the case of our romantic heartstrings and sex, these gifts are truly a sacred part of us. Help your daughter to see the value of healthy, appropriate romantic relationships that begin AFTER she has learned to be complete and whole in her relationship with God and in her self-worth apart from the affections and attentions of a boy. After all, God will call some people to be single their entire life. Are they in some way incomplete and unable to find happiness apart from a romantic relationship? Is our worth dependent on romance? Do: Help your daughter see her value apart from appearance, and apart from romance. Celebrate womanhood and teach her she is worth treasuring and that some intimate areas of her life and body deserve special honor. Teach her that she is whole and valuable and God has so many adventures for her life and growth for her life that should come before romance.
Don't: Joke and jest about getting a boyfriend. Don't use words that suggest that her appearance is the measure of her worth. Don't get caught up in your own desires for your daughter to experience romance too soon.
3. Teach your teen to be a TRENDSETTER & LEADER among their peers.
Teens in today's culture need a simple plan for
a. withstanding peer pressure and
b. setting the trend in their peer group regarding modesty, guys, romance, sex, and all things culture.
I'd love to say that all you need to do is hand them a book or say these magic words and your job in this department will be done. But the fact is, your teens need on-going conversations and experiences that build TRUTH where they are being pelted with lies. Then, they need some simple sentences to say when issues arise. Give them words that can serve as a way out from sticky situations. For example, if they are waiting until they're older before they start dating, they're going to need kind but firm words to say if a guy asks them to "go out" or "to be his boyfriend," such as, "I've got some other goals in my life right now that I'm focused on instead of dating." Or, actually, right now I have a "God before guys" moto. I am being friends with guys but not having a boyfriend yet." Or, "Instead of dating, I'm pursuing other life adventures before I jump into dating. But am definitely thankful that you are my friend." Or, if her friends are pressuring her to pursue guys before she's ready, she can say, " Right now my value is to develop my relationship with God to a stronger place before I develop my relationship with guys. Will you encourage me, support me in my goal in who I am in Christ before I develop any romantic relationships?" Help your daughter develop some easy words to exit the issue.
Here's some life areas to help your daughter be a trend-setter
*Be a trendsetter In purity - We can choose better than the messages of the world by guarding what our eyes see, ears hear, mouth speaks. It's not being naive; it's being valuable.
*Be a trendsetter in priorities - We can value our relationships with both guys and girls to keep drama out and mutual respect in. We can protect one another's hearts and bodies and minds. We can learn how to be a good friend to guys before being a girlfriend. We can value our mind and heart enough to filter content.and to identify truth from lies. We can value our bodies enough to treasure it both in how we showcase it and how we speak about it. We can value our time as precious and not something to waste on constant shallow, temporary, cheap indulgences in exchange for deeply meaningful moments of lasting benefit. We are limited to just 24 hrs in every day and it would be sad to waste them on fleeting pleasure rather than develop a life of deep joy and contentment.
*Be a trendsetter in pursuits - We can seek adventure, discovery, character development, academic knowledge, spiritual strength, hobbies to develop that may become career paths... there is so much to experience in this stage of life rather than being caught up in drama and romance. The season for romance will come soon enough. First, there is a full life to create!
A great resource to help you navigate these goals, is the organization and website True Girl
She's Watching You
Dad, She's watching you.
How are you speaking about your daughter? It is how she is likely to think of herself. How are you treating your daughter? It is likely to determine how she values herself. How are you speaking about and treating her mother? It is how your daughter will likely allow men to speak about her and treat her. How are you speaking about and treating all the women around you? It tells her what you really believe about women.
Mom, She's watching you.
How are you speaking about yourself? It is how she is likely to think of herself.
How are you treating yourself? It is how she is likely to treat herself.
How are you handling relationships with the men in your life? It is how she will likely allow men to treat her and the way she will treat men
How are you treating your relationship with God? The importance you place on your relationship with God will have a direct impact on the importance she will place on having a relationship with Him.
She’s watching. Be intentional.
Quotes from the podcast episode (part 2 A Girl's Self-Worth._Click here to listen_to the episode)
*Create an environment and relationship of dialogue – what can you do to make your daughter feel like it is safe for her to talk to you about anything.
*Look for opportunities to ask “what do you think about that? How do you feel about that?” without a message agenda but just listening and digging deeper
*Be real with your kids (wrestling in my mind and heart right now) express your various thoughts about the issue and not
*Be vulnerable with your kids – share from your heart instead of lecturing.
*Help them not get caught up too quickly in romantic relationships. They have longings to be treasured, equip them and direct them to their relationship with God first. You want them to be valued and treasured without a guy’s input or validation. God, most likely, has awesome future relationships planned, but not until they’ve gotten their relationship with God at a healthy place. *Culture, Hollywood, books, music are all saying the complete opposite thing. “Happiness comes from being able to get a guy or being in a relationship.” We parents need to watch our jokes, our words, our desires for our daughters. Send the right message – that they have so many things to develop in their life FIRST – full and whole in her relationship with God and in her self-worth before she has any business being in a romantic relationship.
*Girls are taught at a young age to manipulate to get to a fulfilling life. Manipulation doesn’t build a good relationship. It doesn’t bring us to character that we want to be. Don’t take advantage of a guy.
*God will call some to being single for their entire life. They can have a fulfilling life even if they never get married. Mom, are you clearly sending this message?
*Between a mother and a daughter, it doesn’t have to be a hush hush thing. If a mom is just keeping her eyes out for those opportunities to talk about all these issues from as big as sex to as small and friendships. Talk about the awkward things. Be real. Create a safe haven for open dialog.
*We want to teach them to have boundaries in conversation. Intimate parts of their lives is not supposed to be public knowledge – in front of guys or general friends. Save it for close friends. It is healthy to keep some conversation boundaries. If we keep conversation boundaries, it will help keep physical boundaries more easily. Some topics should be off-limits. Protect & Treasure one another by keeping some conversation and physical boundaries.
Sons need to be taught those sacred things. View them as a sister in Christ Sons and daughters both need to see the opposite sex as someone to protect, respect. Honor, value.
*False messages are out there, and your kids are going to hear them. Teach them truth to combat the lies. What lens do we want them to look through? What are we doing about it?
*Regarding my husband, I don’t want to be one of his buddies.I want him to treat me as special, worthy of honor.We teach people how to treat us.
RESOURCES MENTIONED in this episode *To be in the True Girl product drawing, go to Val's Facebook group to see the drawing announcement, ending 5/3/2020. Click Here to go to our private Facebook community Intentional Mom, Strong Family
Val's Podcast Episode 6: Parenting Middles and Teens: Overcoming Negative Self Talk, What Your Teens Aren't Telling You
True Girl - mytruegirl.com www.GraceandTruthBooks.com
Book: Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman's Soul by Stasi and John Eldredge
Private Facebook group: Intentional Mom, Strong Family