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Parenting A Teenage Girl: May The Odds Be Ever In Your Favor

Over the last couple of years, my husband and I have become addicted to the reality series that involves someone in the wilderness with nothing but a camera. There were a couple of Navy Seal-types who intentionally put themselves in harm’s way, scouring cold mountainsides with nothing but a pickaxe and a can of sardines. Others crossed the Siberian Tundra in search of rescue, eating shrubs and fungus along the way. Taunting viewers with tales of survival in the most dangerous of places, we watched with fascination until it became perfectly clear that we were in a game of survival all our own.

The Struggles Of Raising A Teenage Girl

Our teenage daughter is that Siberian Tundra. We scour her vast landscape with weapons out (strength, fortitude, bravery) in hopes of discovering the warm, lush, inviting climate that used to occupy that cold wasteland. Every now and then, our skills at weathering that storm prevail and we are treated to days of beautiful weather, sunny skies and calm waters. But then that storm picks up again, and we are left tired and breathless searching for cover and protection. It is exhausting.

I have come to discover that being a teenage girl in this century is quite similar to “The Hunger Games” and as conscientious parents, we are fighting an uphill battle. There is no way to predict how she is feeling from one day to the next. And the cruelty of this age is that neither does she. Our teenage daughter hates that loss of control – but she can’t do much about it either. My husband and I work together to provide the support she needs but we are not what she wants; her friends are an emotional substitute for what used to be us. While we really love most of her friends, we know that they are replacing us in situations where we still feel critical.

Dealing With Teenage Girls Who Don’t Want To Talk

Making our feelings and fears known is another challenge entirely. When we finally have her alone, away from any technology, it’s hard to not barrage her with questions.  Friends, drinking, pot, porn–the list is endless and while I have legitimate concerns, I have to refrain at times in order to keep her close. Our older son shared that insight. “Just let me be when I’m with you and I might want to do it more. No questions, no asking me to divulge who’s getting high; just know that I’m okay and I need to be with you. But I need for you to be quiet.” Heard that. And the benefits are incredible; the positive effects are substantial.

So while venturing through that Tundra, I am careful to give her some space. There is something to be said for knowing when to stay quiet and let the meal go without intense discussion. Sitting over a girls’ lunch in the mall, we shared a pop, a salad and very little conversation. I was biting my lip – but maintained a respectful silence. As we left, my little survivor grasped my arm and looped her elbow around mine. She held on tight as we walked to the car. I hope this moment will sustain us until the next reality challenge. If not, I’ll pray for a one-hour episode.