Just because you’ve taught your daughter manners when she was a toddler doesn’t mean your job is done as she ages. Teen girls are notorious for pushing boundaries and showing disrespect to parents when they are really trying to gain independence and figure out who they are. However, when a teen girl is not acting how she should and may be putting herself or others in harm’s way, that’s when you should intervene.
When it comes to parenting teen girls, when to put your foot down is a frequently debated topic. Trying to navigate that push and pull between dependency and independence is hard for parents. Sometimes letting go of the control is an additional struggle.
So how do you know when to put your foot down and when to let things go, all while still loving your teen daughter? Here are three things to keep in mind as you assess every situation you encounter with your teenage daughter.
Pressure Plays a Big Part
Remember that your teen daughter is under a lot of pressure, from friends, teachers, relatives, herself and even you. When teens are under pressure, they may use anger or indifference to deal with it, rather than seeking help or support like they once did. They may feel embarrassed to come to you for help, or may feel they should be big enough to handle things alone.
Regardless, if your teenager is experiencing pressure, she may lash out without really meaning to. She may engage in rambunctious, stress-relieving activities that may seem silly or even dangerous. As you evaluate your teen’s motivations for behavior, consider the amount of pressure and see what you can do to alleviate some of it.
Mental or Behavioral Issues
You’ll need to evaluate whether or not your teenage daughter is experiencing mental or behavioral health issues beyond typical teenage rebellion. Educate yourself on some of the telltale signs of adolescent depression or drug use, for example, so you can evaluate whether your child is encountering a challenge that needs professional, therapeutic intervention.
Teens with these special challenges can go on to lead happy and healthy lives, but not if their particular issues are left untreated. Teens with untreated mental and behavioral issues are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol and struggle in school. Make sure your teen’s actions are within normative parameters and not swinging to extremes because this might be a sign of a deeper issue.
Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
Letting go of teenagers is difficult for many parents, and sometimes you create more problems with your teenage girl than are necessary. Establish house rules that promote respect and safety and outline consequences for them. Then, let the rules speak for themselves. Choose to fight the battles for when your teen daughter is harming herself or others, like grades, curfew, drugs and so forth. After that, get ready to let the little things go and give your daughter the autonomy to make decisions for herself and even to fail if necessary.
Fighting over very small issues and giving out random and arbitrary punishments won’t be helpful for either of you. Instead, stick to the house rules and consequences and be there for her as she figures out the small things. Eventually, she’ll need to get more and more independent, and you need to be there for her then as well.
As your teenager gets older, you’ll need to step back more and more, while still being the unconditional support and she needs to transition to adulthood. Your daughter needs you now more than ever. Learning when to put your foot down and when to intervene is tricky, but when don correctly, you’ll be surprised at how your daughter will rise to the occasion.