Q1 – How do I keep the channels of communication open without my daughter thinking I am neurotic?
A1 – It is important that your daughter knows how to communicate with you and for you to know the best ways in which to communicate with her. Talk to your daughter about what she would prefer – whether you should check in with her in person, by phone or by text. Try to do it in an unobtrusive way, but remind her that you are checking up on her as you are concerned about her personal well-being and safety. It may also be useful to have the mobile phone numbers of some of her friends so you can drop them a brief text if you are unable to get hold of your daughter. However, be careful only to use these numbers in an emergency.
Q2 – Why is it that my daughter is always so horrible to me, yet can wrap her father around her little finger?
A2 – The relationship between mothers and daughters is probably both the most fruitful and the most fraught one there is. The daughter often over-identifies with the mother and the feelings of hate and love are often intertwined. The mother is fully aware of the perils and pitfalls that may occur during their daughters’ teenage years and she feels deeply protective of her daughter. Fathers on the other hand see their beautiful daughter emerging and are charmed by her. Both parents (whether living together or apart) should agree ground rules for your daughter (and of course other children) and stick to them. Giving your daughter a consistent message and setting realistic boundaries is vital and she will thank you for it.
Q3 – How do I handle my daughter’s mood swings?
A3 – Show an interest in your daughters schooling, friends and hobbies, but not to the extent where it is smothering. Communication is vital, spend time listening to her and try to be flexible over some things and aim to avoid confrontation. If she continues to shout and rant and rave, try not to shout back, remember you are the adult in the situation, even if your daughter knows how to push all your buttons! Walk away if you can and try to re-start the conversation when you both are calm. Try to think of teenage tantrums in the same way as toddler tantrums, it may make it easier.
Q4 – What boundaries should I set for my daughters regarding curfew/time to be home at night?
A4 – Teenagers need boundaries. They may not like being told to be home by a certain time but as responsible parents you are showing that you care and ultimately your teenager will value this and feel secure. Agree a time and then ask her to text you so that you know that she is on her way home. This is less intrusive than a phone call, but can be equally reassuring. If your daughter is travelling by public transport ensure that she is travelling with others even if it means having a couple of additional teenagers staying over for the night. Alternatively agree where and when you will collect your daughter, and make sure that you are always there on time. Try to ensure that you are discreet when you collect your daughter. Don’t cross examine her about her evening, wait and allow her to tell you what she has been up to! It is helpful to do a rota with some of your daughter’s friends’ parents if possible as this takes the pressure away from you.
Q5 – How do I know to trust my daughter when she tells me where and who she is going out with?
A5 – You have to build a relationship of trust and mutual respect. You need to be aware that trust has as much to do with your relationship with your daughter as it does with her behaviour. When extending trust you need to make it clear that when giving her trust that you require the truth. Your daughter needs to know for certain that you can survive the truth – even if some times it is ugly, and so can they. Talking to her regularly about concerns regarding school work, friends, social situations and potential pitfalls lets your daughter know where you stand and why. All relationships in life are predicated on trust and honesty. Your daughter needs to know that actions have consequences, but if she is honest your relationship will survive.
Q6 – How do I respond when my daughter tells me the “ugly truth”?
A6 – If your daughter has the guts to tell you that, for example, she has got drunk at a party at the age of 13, the fact that she has told you means that she has been frightened by this and is asking you for your support to help her make better decisions. It may not feel like this at the time, but if you severely punish your daughter then why would she continue to confide in you? You need to help your daughter move on from unfortunate incidents and ensure that she knows how to be safe and secure next time. It isn’t easy, but keep the doors of communication open and she will confide in you. Always remember that you are instilling in your daughter a moral code for her future. If your daughter tells you that she thinks she may be pregnant, take a deep breath and remember that she has told you as she wants you to help her. Take her to the doctor and try to support her through the situation.