How to Survive Your Preteen Daughter
Girls may be sugar and spice, and everything nice — until they become preteens! Most parents begin to notice a change in their daughters’ attitudes as early as 8, but even if it takes a little longer, it will definitely be obvious by 11. While mothers need to remember what it was like to be at that awkward age, in reality, we’re too busy in the present moment, juggling jobs, other children and daily minutiae, so our daughters’ mood swings tend to push us over the edge. Sometimes we as mothers need to step back and recognize that this period of our daughters’ lives will last a maximum of five years and then these final moments of relative innocence will be gone.
I would like to think I managed quite well with Abby who is now a full-blown teenager at 14 and heading off to high school next month. Hailee is 11 and while we have been doing great there have been some tough moments in the mix!
Here are some practical suggestions for surviving, if not making the most, of this time.
How To Survive Your Preteen Daughter
Invest Time In Her
If you’re in a situation where you are butting heads with your preteen daughter day and night, this may be the last thing you want to do, but it’s important for the future of your relationship. Choose a minimum of one meal a day to eat with her and talk about anything other than problems. Keep it light. If it would be easier to go for a 15 minute walk, or establish some other daily routine for “girl talk,” go for it. Sometimes, the best you can do is make it part of your daily commute, and that’s OK, too. The point is to tune out distractions and let her know that you are there for her. Use this time to joke around, to talk about her friends, and her future dreams and ideas. Once you’ve been at it for a while, you can delve into, or set the stage for future conversations about deeper issues, like boys, drugs or religion. It doesn’t hurt to bring up current affairs during this time either. You should be the first to have a hand at shaping your daughter’s worldview before anyone else does.
Take Her On A Date
You can take this idea a step further by establishing a monthly “date,” where you do something fun with her. Consider it a field trip where you go explore a new place, or visit a place that always makes her smile. It doesn’t have to cost a lot. Or if money is not a concern, go head and blow her mind with concert tickets to her fave band. It’s best to establish these fun outings before you encounter any problems with your daughter’s behavior or communication style. After all, you’ll feel hurt and resentful if it gets to that point, and you’ll feel conflicted by essentially rewarding negative behavior. Even if you have already experienced issues, fight the voice in your head that says you’re rewarding her. This is a worthwhile investment in your future relationship, even if things are difficult now. When in doubt, keep it low-key.
Some other ideas for dates:
- Visit a Farmer’s Market
- Go for a Manicure
- Enjoy a refreshing ice cream & a nice walk at the beach (or around the neighbourhood)
- Go bowling
- Thrift store shopping
- Cheap movie night (some cities have free movie nights at the park)
- Visit a festival or craft show
- At-home spa night, give each other mini makeovers
Take Yourself On A Date
Remember how hard it was to have a baby constantly draining your energy? This isn’t really all that different. You need to carve out time for yourself, so that you can be there for other people. If you get flak from your daughter on a regular basis, you need alone time to recharge your batteries. This can be a do-not-disturb-bubble bath that has been penciled onto the calendar, a trip to a coffee shop on your own, or a ladies’ night out. You decide, but make it a priority, even above your date with your preteen daughter. If you’re high-strung and stressed out, you’ll likely make rash decisions or say things that will do more harm than good.
Make Friends With Moms Of Preteen Girls
As with the baby years, getting support from other moms, even if just to vent and have someone truly understand what you are going through, is really important. Consider it a support group! We’re unafraid to turn to books and other moms during those first years, but then something changes and we expect to have this parenting thing all figured out. In truth, the ages and stages vary, even between the sexes. A toddler boy is much more challenging that raising a toddler girl, but moms of preteen sons may not understand your struggle as much as a mom of another preteen daughter. This isn’t a suggestion to rid yourself of friends who can’t help you! Just add conversations with moms in your position into your daily life, even if only in Facebook groups, so you can learn from and commiserate with each other.
Most importantly, make sure she knows that you are there for her whenever she needs you and that you are a safe place to openly talk to. As hard as it may be sometimes we need to be less judgmental and more open with our children, especially girls. Speak of your experiences in a certain situation and how you handled it, then brainstorm together ideas to deal with any issues she is having. The worst thing you can do is make your child feel like they cannot come to you with important problems without a fear of being “punished” or “judged”.