Thursday, April 12, 2012

How to raise a teenage girl

You tell me.

Mine just turned 16 and it's been one heck of a roller coaster ride for the past maybe year or two. But the fact that I have a teenager only became so obvious to me these past few months. My first question to myself was, "Shouldn't teenagers come with a manual???". I was clueless and lost. It's just like forgetting everything I read about raising kids and all the advice I've gotten from friends so far. I was in a dark room and had to gather my thoughts to make sure I got back on track. I didn't feel so alone though, because I was certain other parents of teenagers were going through or have gone through the same thing. More importantly, I knew that my kid was normal and there was nothing much to worry about.

Someone told me that at 16, it only gets worse for us parents (especially the Moms) and that I should brace myself for what's to come. Issues on trust, freedom, responsibility, attitude (oh attitude yes), parties, boys, friends will have to be faced and dealt with.

The things I have to remind myself about are these :

1) DON'T TAKE IT PERSONALLY - one of the hardest things to do, really. But at some point you just have to do it. Otherwise, can you just imagine what could happen? You get nowhere, that's for sure.

2) TEENAGERS HAVE RAGING HORMONES TOO - a teenager said, "I've explained to my Mom many times that I can't control it and sometimes I don't even realize what I've been doing". I sit down and talk to Anissa whenever she does something that upsets me or her Dad and all the time I get the, "But Mom, that's not what I meant" or "I didn't know I was disrespectful, it was meant as a joke".

3) TIMING IS KEY - When I'm in a rotten mood or when my day isn't going well, most of the time I just want to retreat and not be forced to talk about what's going on. I guess our children are entitled to react this way, too. If you can hold back, do so. Until such time that you think your child is ready to open up and tell you what the problem is.

4) FRIENDS TRUMP PARENTS (and even siblings) - It's hard to think of them as grown up. Parents have a tendency to deny that their kids are aging and trying to find their own place in the sun. To us, they'll always be our babies. But they get to a point where their interests become so different from ours. Spending time with their friends means doing the things THEY like. Spending time with family means being forced to do things they would rather do with people their own age. Which takes me back to my first point ... don't take it personally. The issue here is not that they don't think family is important or that they love you any less. It's just that they have more fun around people who can easily relate to their needs. And who would those be? Their friends, of course. Disclaimer : I put my foot down on family events and gatherings. For instance, Sundays are sacred. You don't plan on doing things with your friends on Sundays because they are strictly for the family only.

5) DON'T COMPARE - it's almost automatic for a parent to say, "In my time, that kind of attitude would not have gone unnoticed and I would've been grounded for life!" They just won't get it. There's a whole generation gap to be addressed and even if it's the hardest thing to do, we need to accept that today's children are sooooo different.

Lastly but most importantly ...

While giving them that much-needed space to find and be themselves

6) I HAVE THE FINAL SAY - She can rant all she wants. She can roll her eyes behind my back (and I know she does), she can tell her friends how much she hates me for being the way I am with her. But any show of OUTRIGHT disrespect towards ANYONE will not be tolerated. There is no way that will ever, ever fly with me. I'll try my best to be patient, to understand, to give leeway when necessary. I'll give her all of that. But I will never, not in a million years, be okay with disrespect.

So this is the part where I SIGH. I'm just getting started on this journey and I have to admit, I've shed some tears over it. It's really painful sometimes and I'm still trying to figure out how best to go about things. Despite the difficulties though, I am still so thankful because I know of other parents who are going through so much more with their teens --- drugs, alcohol, dating issues. I don't have any of those and I pray I'm one of the lucky ones who won't have to go through them at all. Anissa is so normal and for that, I'm extremely grateful.

I'm not gonna end this post on a negative note though. Having a teenage girl is also so much fun. It's not gloomy all the time and I have to stress on that. Shopping is twice as fun when I'm with her. I learn so much from her about music and fashion. I'd like to think that because I'm not super strict, she still feels comfortable about sharing stories to me --- something I don't remember doing when I was her age because my own parents were modern day Hitlers hee hee hee. We may not have the perfect mother-daughter relationship right now, but I am definitely content and will not ask for a lighter "burden".

Oh and before I forget, it's really true what other parents have told me ...

when the going gets rough with your teenager, daanin sa matinding dasal. True.

How different would it be if I had a boy? One of my best friends told me, "Iba rin pag lalaki...".
Out of curiosity, I need to ask her what she meant by that.


  1. Sigh. (and make it deep.) Thanks for sharing this, Patty. You know mine's 13 soon-ish. This is the kind of advice I need from other parents, especially those I can actually relate to. Ipi-print ko nga at ife-frame ko ito!

  2. Thanks, Riz. Other than letting it all out, I really want to share what I've learned so far. It's a work in progress and I'm sure I'll need to post a "part 2" at some point. It helps to have friends who've been there or are going through the same. So whenever you need to ask me something, you know where to find me! :)