When Parenting a Teenage Girl, Remember to:
Be precise with instructions, if you ask her to get something done “some time today” that means it is an inconsequential request and may be overlooked. Gently ask her to please clean up the laundry that has found its way cross every stretch of floor in the house by 5:00 that afternoon. Thank you very much and I’m looking forward to spending time with you.
Keep the fridge stocked.
Keep gas in the car.
Keep on schedule. A late arrival to practice, school or pick-up, has a 90% chance of creating instant emotional decline, along with a measurable change of atmosphere. You can expect to go from buoyant to pissed off, or from blithely unconcerned to recalcitrant and stormy, very, VERY quickly.
Keep in mind that her brain is awash with hormones like a crowd at yankee stadium. She may hope to catch a ball, or a photo-opp on the mega-tron, but otherwise, there’s just a lot of insistent noise, impossible to decipher and requiring constant energy to stay focused. Her poor neo-cortex is functioning like a college student after an all-night frat party, with limbic overload resembling one too many trips to the keg. As a Mom, it’s difficult to watch the last vestiges of childhood fade away, replaced by a desire for anarchy and asylum to the bedroom. Fortunately, the latest series of complaints is usually followed by a very sincere display that everything is just a little (hiccup) overwhelming sometimes.
So look for moments where the magic of childhood returns: a glimpse through the window of a face lit up while reading a favorite Harry Potter book; a study break involving her favorite trampoline moves; or a giggle-fest among girlfriends. These are reminders that not all is lost. The child is beautifully present still, and at the end of every weathered storm, there’s immense pleasure in witnessing the human being she’s directing herself to be.