How to Deal with Your Teenage Daughter
Caroline Manzo puts the real in The Real Housewives of New Jersey, and her fans relate to the reality star's no-nonsense attitude, focus on family and, above all, abundant common sense. Check back at Glo every Monday as Caroline helps solve your most pressing dilemmas.
The Dilemma: This one is for all the moms of teenaged daughters out there. As girls grow up, their relationships with their mothers change: They become less “mommy & me” and more distant, rebellious and secretive. How did you deal with your daughter during those typically tumultuous teenage years? Did you set firm rules and curfews? Or did you give her the freedom to make choices (and mistakes) on her own? What are your tips for maintaining a strong mother/daughter relationship with your growing girl?
Caroline's Ruling: No one ever said that raising children was easy. It's a 24/7 job that affects every part of your being, mind, body and soul.
Wouldn't it be great if there were a manual that came with your kids when they were born? I'm talking about a manual very specific to your child as an individual, not a generic book on raising a boy or girl.
On second thought, no thanks; no one is going to raise my child but the hubby and me. Al and I have managed to raise three pretty terrific kids. The key word in that sentence is “raise.” We put so much time into being the absolute best parents we knew how to be. We still do, and they're 21, 22 and 24 years old! It's a job that has no retirement age or date. We're in it for life.
The question today is about daughters, so let's get down to business. My daughter Lauren had a pretty strict upbringing. Her girlfriends had many more freedoms than she did, and at times it became a sticking point with her, but we never relented. The thing that parents today need to understand is that you can't press rewind when raising a child. The rules are the rules, and children need to have them. Curfews are a must, and when broken, there should be consequences.
Talk to your children and listen when they speak, respect what they have to say, and if you don't share an opinion, instead of shooting them down, explain yourself, show them a different side and make them understand where you're coming from. Silence is not an option; a grunt or sideways look is not an option.
Communication is so important on both sides. Children become distant when they don't think they're understood or feel like no one's listening or interested in their lives. Show an interest! Make it a point to get to know your daughter's friends. Take them to lunch as a group every now and again and just talk about things. Make it lighthearted -- no strings attached.
One very important note: You're not your daughter's “friend”; you're her mother. The chain of command always has to be in place and should never be crossed. It's great to have girl talk and hang out, but that doesn't mean you go “clubbing” together, wear the same bikini and get the same “rebel” tattoo! If you want to go out and get crazy, fine, but do it without your child, and when you do, keep the details to yourself.
When making rules, be reasonable. A curfew should be age-appropriate, and depending on the circumstances, may be bent a little. For example, if your 14-year-old daughter is at a friend's house watching a movie and her curfew is 10 p.m. but the movie ends at 10:45, no biggie. Make sure a parent is home; speak to him or her and have your child home as soon as the movie is over. This shows a little give and take on your part, and your child will appreciate it. However, a 16-year-old has absolutely no business being out until 2 a.m. with no supervision or purpose. That's a recipe for trouble — no room for negotiation there.
To maintain a healthy relationship there must be open communication. Ask questions and listen. Laugh together, make time for her, and give her your undivided attention during those moments. Give her room to grow, and let her experience some growing pains along the way.
Mistakes will be made, and when they are, be there to explain where she went wrong in a positive way. Love, hugs, laughter and discipline are key ingredients in developing and maintaining a healthy relationship with your child.
Little girls: sugar and spice and everything nice, right?
Do you have a question for Caroline?
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From marriage dilemmas to family issues, Caroline's got the answers!Photo by Michael T. Greco