Parents and teens have been at odds since the dawn of time, arguing about school, relationships, activities, privileges, responsibilities and more. However, teens in 2016 deal with a plethora of new complications that seem to make their lives more difficult than those of generations that went before. Some of those new challenges and the data surrounding them follows, along with what parents can do to connect with their teen girls and help them transition into adulthood
Background and Statistics
While teens continue to rebel against the limits their parents impose, they do so in different ways from their predecessors. Their parents and grandparents expressed their personalities in their yearbooks or via diaries. Now, they’re more likely to divulge their secrets on Snapchat. They feel that technology and the instant accessibility that it provides places additional pressures on them. Even so, they rarely make phone calls, instead relying on texts, messaging or even group chat to contact their peers.
Alcohol and Substance Abuse
In 1975, nearly three in four teens admitted to alcohol consumption within the past 30 days. By 2014, that number dropped to less than 40 percent.
Despite an active “Just Say No” campaign, the number of teens smoking marijuana has stayed about the same with 40 percent of high school seniors admitting to using pot during the past 12 months. The legalization of cannabis across the nation has lessened how seriously the drug is viewed.
Love and Romance
The U.S. Census Bureau reports that the average of age of marriage for women has risen from 22 to 28 between 1980 and 2016. Teen girls today recognize their need to be independent, so they are less concerned about finding a spouse. Previous generations of women focused on finding a successful husband — or at least one with potential — and raising their children. Same sex relationships — whispered about behind closed doors, if at all — now seem to be a part of society with growing acceptance for the lifestyle.
Racial and Minority Issues
The racial tensions that skyrocketed during the 60s and 70s seemed to subside during the following decades, escalating again in 2014 when two black men, Eric Garner and Michael Brown, lost their lives at the hands of law enforcement officers. High school students joined in protest marches against the how the cases were handled. Teens believe that these issues will persist although some think they will be able to deal with the challenges. The election of President Donald Trump sparked further riots and walkouts during high school and college classes across the nation due to allegations of his racism. Racial issues seem to again be at the forefront of the nation’s attention.
Aside from all these changes, some things remain the same. Similar to generations before, teens still express their uncertainty about the future. No matter if it happened in 1916, 1966 or 2016, transitioning from adolescence to adulthood remains a challenge. The income gap between the top 1 percent in the nation and everyone else continues to grow, causing economic concerns. But nowhere are these concerns more obvious than when it comes to college and related expenses, which continue to skyrocket. Furthermore, teens also worry about will happen after college. On the other hand, some feel that their parents have paved the way for them to receive an education.
How Parents Can Build Better Relationships with Their Teen Daughters
While parents understand that their teen girl will be emotional and moody at times, they shouldn’t take it personally. Even so, her behavior can be a difficult pill to swallow. While you might be tempted to fight her, giving your daughter more space allows her to find her own way. The following tips can help you further as you navigate the stormy waters of these challenging years.
- You are the adult — You are raising a young woman who will leave your home to become her own person. She must be prepared to make good decisions for the rest of her life. She needs your moral guidance, not another “bff.” You are her parent, so act like it.
- Enjoy regular family time together apart from electronics — Bake cookies. Take a walk. Grab a cup of coffee or hot chocolate. Whatever the activity, time together without screens will provide your family with warm memories for years to come. Take advantage of the power of a quick day trip to reconnect and recharge your batteries.
- Model responsible behaviors and any moral qualities you want her to emulate — Honesty, compassion and responsibility are key on the list. Talk about your values as well. She is absorbing more than you might think.
- Clarify your family rules — When your daughter knows your core values, she will know the consequences of breaking them from the start. Hopefully, this will help her make wise decisions.
- Teach her boundaries — As she develops her own relationships, she will need to learn how to keep and set her own boundaries.
- Admit your mistakes — Your transparency can help her realize that mistakes are not the end of the world. Apologize and admit that you aren’t perfect.
- Keep your cool even when she doesn’t — It’s okay to take a break in the midst of a heated conversation.
- Listen more, talk less — Treat her with respect just as you would any adult in your life. As you let her process her feelings, she will learn life-long problem-solving skills. Even during a disagreement, be sure that you are a safe place for her to land.
- Encourage her when she makes the right choices — Look for her strengths and compliment her on those. She will respond to your praise, which will build her self-confidence.
- Reassure her that you love her even when you quarrel — Experts measure a parent/teen bond through a range of experiences including joy in spending time together, expression of various feelings and sharing daily experiences. Resolving a disagreement is more important than never disagreeing in the first place.
- Laugh — Laughter defuses stressful situations, helping both you and your teen to learn to roll with the punches.