Being the mother of a teenage daughter has taught those of us at Huff/Post50 a few things. Here are nine issues only the mother of a teenage girl would understand:
1. They are more young women than little girls -- except for when they aren't. The trick is knowing who is in control of the body at any given moment: The young woman who was up late last night picking out a prom dress from Rent the Runway or the one who is now watching SpongeBob SquarePants and giggling. The helpful daughter who last night cleaned up the kitchen without being asked can very quickly roll her eyeballs at what you are wearing. The mood changes are impressive -- often within the same conversation. From weepy tears to murderous anger at a family member -- just like that. Come to think of it, there's a strong resemblance to menopause.
2. There's definitely a physics law that says a closed bedroom door should remain closed. For years, the entire family may have gathered together each evening to do homework and watch TV. But that will change. Once a girl becomes a teenager, she'll increasingly want to hole up in her room. The first time she does this, you may feel oddly wounded. But you soon learn that a physical barrier isn't an obstacle on the path of growing up -- but rather a necessary part of it.
3. Moms can't fix everything and their daughters would like them to stop trying to. The core of a mother's love is to protect and nurture. But even we know that the best coaches do the training during practices and keep their mouths shut during the game. The idea is to teach your kids how to make smart choices for themselves, not go through life with us whispering what to do in their ear.
Our daughters will undoubtedly make some mistakes along the way. The best you can hope for is that they make their own mistakes, not yours.
4. Not all daughters are the same, so you shouldn't make assumptions. Some teenage daughters wouldn't be caught dead in a dress. They hate to shop and order their yoga pants online to avoid the mall. But others may love nothing more than spending an afternoon at Urban Outfitters. One thing we know for sure: teenagers hate being stereotyped. And don't we all?
5. A teenage daughter really stays daddy's little girl. Don't be surprised when your husband comes home from work and says "How's my girl?" and he's referring to your daughter -- not you. Daddies will always think they can fix whatever ails their daughters. A daughter's relationship with her father will always be the lynchpin of their personal lives. That never goes away.
6. When not sleeping, she will be talking to her friends. When she's not talking to her friends, she will be sleeping. As Virginia Woolf once said, “Some people go to priests; others to poetry; I to my friends.” And so do teenage girls. When you think they're sleeping, they're probably on FaceTime with a friend. And that's normal. All the anxieties of adolescence lend themselves to rumination.
7. PMS is the real deal. Yowsa, is it ever. It's important to note, though, that there will be apologies rendered for every door slam and angry diatribe. It's hormonal. A force larger than them takes over and they become the scene in "The Exorcist" where the little girl's head spins around her neck. It is awful; it is ugly; it is best to stay away.
8. It's better to allow dad to teach them to drive. Teaching a teenage girl to drive is something that dads often start and moms finish. It isn't that dads are more patient or smarter or better drivers. It's just that, as moms, we are nervous wrecks and nervous wrecks don't make for good driving instructors.
9. A teenage daughter can go from loving you to hating you -- and back again -- before you can say Taylor Swift three times. It's not easy to see a girl who still calls you "mommy" suddenly turn on you with the viciousness of a wolverine simply because you "Just. Don't. Understand. ANYTHING." Yes, there are lots of mood swings. Roll with it.
In the end, mothers understand that their relationships with their daughters aren't static but that -- if you keep the communication flowing -- there's always the potential for extraordinary bonding. Teenage daughters can be exasperating and infuriating -- and also the greatest source of joy, love and happiness.
Are you the mother of a teenage girl? What's it like? Let us know in comments.
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