They say it can be tough being a parent today and even tougher if you have a teenage daughter. Kids now have the ability to travel easily, communicate almost at will and are faced with very real dangers such as drugs. TV bulletins and newspapers tell us of teens who been killed or badly injured in what seem like never-ending tragedies.
So how can parents be helped today? And how can teenage girls be helped today?
The first tip is to be observant. If your daughter is in trouble or in a situation where she may get into trouble, there will most likely be signs. The way she speaks to you or doesn’t speak to you, the time she spends alone, the different friends she has or the loss of the ones she once had are all possible indications something is wrong. The key for you as the parent is to observe in a quiet way. Don’t telegraph your punches. Don’t force your teen to become secretive or more secretive. Look out for changes in her routines and behavior and be ready to act if action is needed.
Remember too that it is unlikely your daughter, if she is in trouble, will do so in an obvious way. Be alert for subtle changes in her attitude and behavior.
Parents should never bury their head in the sand. If a parent thinks their daughter is just going through a ‘stage’ in their life and will grow out of it, they could be in for a rude awakening. As sad as it sounds, you must be prepared for the worst. Don’t just hope things will be okay. Make sure they are okay and to do that you have to be vigilant.
Develop a strong relationship with your teenage daughter. Tell her the facts of life in such areas as drugs, sex and alcohol. Develop a trusting relationship. Enable your teen to feel confident in coming to you to discuss any and all problems. Remaining silent or making threats may backfire. Build a strong bond with your child.
Educate your daughter and yourself. Just because the media is flooded with pictures of teenage girls being especially thin, that doesn’t make such a body shape right. In fact eating disorders in teenage girls is a serious and potentially dangerous problem. Speak to your family doctor. Find out what is an acceptable weight for your daughter. Talk to her about body image and how the most important characteristics are high self-esteem and happiness within.
One of the best approaches is to be positive and proactive. Rather than threaten and warn your daughter, give her encouragement to become involved in worthwhile activities. A sporting interest, the local drama club or outdoor events like hiking or sailing are all possible activities for your teen. Push the good rather than preach about the bad.
Career advice is another possibility. If your teen has an interest in a particular career e.g. she may care deeply about animals, then you can point her towards voluntary work in the field of her choice. It is a worthwhile activity and a solid foundation for a possible future career. Be positive and don’t stint on your love.