1. Look for the Transformative Teaching Moment: You can turn any teen disaster into a teaching moment. You can turn any communication “breakdown” into a “breakout” opportunity to connect, protect and nurture.
2. Answer the Why: Work on your patience, take a breath, collect yourself, and answer the why. “Because I said so” or flat-out “no’s” are the worst answers you can give a teenager.
3. Be the Role Model: Be clear and consistent: “walking your talk” is essential. Demonstrate behaviors you want to see in her.
4. Lend Your Brain: The tween/teenage brain is not fully developed yet, but as an adult you have the ability to think through problems and come up with potential solutions—let your daughter know you’re there to help her sort things out.
5. Trust Your Gut: Trust that small voice within you—your instincts are usually right—and teach your daughter to do the same. Here my focus is helping mom to help her daughter build up her confidence, her self esteem, self and body worth. Your message to your daughter, “You really matter to me and it’s key that you matter to yourself as well.”
6. Expect Your Daughter to Make Mistakes: Prepare for the fact that teens will mess up, then you’ll be better able to help her and guide her when it really counts.
7. No Punishment: Punishment simply does not work with tweens and teens the way you want it to. If your daughter is afraid of getting punished, she won’t ask for help and guidance when she needs it most.
It’s the middle of the night when you hear your daughter returning home from a party. You are relieved she is home. You are woken up by a small pitiful voice, “Mommy I don’t feel so good.” It’s three in the morning, she’s now throwing up violently in the toilet. In between heaves you ask what happened: How much did you drink? What did you drink? Didn’t you know when enough was enough? Good question. Your daughter is a captive audience. Do you:
A) Yell and scream at her until you’re hoarse.
B) Ground her and punish her until she’s twenty-one.
C) Stay calm and resolve to talk to her in the morning; or
D) Ignore her and give her the silent treatment.
If you read my Aerial Parenting Chapter (my parenting philosophy) and followed my tips you would know the answer is C. Personally, I think that feeling sick, with your head hanging over the toilet bowl, is punishment enough. You score extra points, Mom, if you table the discussion until tomorrow, when she is not so green. The next morning she talks about getting carried away, feeling guilty and hung over and you as her concerned and loving mom share your concern for her well being and that she needs to focus on taking better care of herself. You score big time in the eyes of your daughter! You’re are building up a composite of experiences for your daughter to see you as approachable and a constant, stable, reliable, firm, empathically attuned, loving, benevolent authority figure in her life. Most important, your daughter will come back when she needs you and chooses and that’s great stuff!
Arden Greenspan-Goldberg is a N.Y.-based licensed psychotherapist with over 30 years of experience and mother of a now-grown daughter—Samara, 22. In order to help moms and daughters from her practice (as well as friends and family) and to answer inquiries from her website, TV appearances, and speaking engagements, she has come up with tips to help moms cultivate a respectful, strong connection with their daughters and strategies to help moms understand their daughters and learn to rise above. Arden is the author of “What Do You Expect? She’s a Teenager!: A Hope and Happiness Guide for Moms with Daughters Ages 11 – 19″
Find out more about Arden Greenspan-Goldberg, LCSW , at www.askarden.com
*Arden’s first book signing is on September 8th at 6pm at The Corner Bookstore on Madison Ave. and 93rd Street in Manhattan