Parenting teenage girls comes with a rollercoaster of emotions and endless worry! I know because I am the lucky mom to two teenage daughters, 13 and 14!! I didn’t plan that or have any idea what I was getting myself into. Every day is a new adventure in drama, angst, and moodiness; and that’s just talking about me! Add two teenage daughters to the mix and you don’t even want to imagine life around here! But I am determined to raise happy, strong daughters! If they can grow up knowing and believing that their body and mind are amazing and capable of anything, I have done my job! Right now they think the secret to happiness is perfectly straightened hair, or the right shade of blue mascara! Sometimes they even think they are pretty amazing in the shortest shorts known to humankind! Ugg. I have a long road ahead of me!
I wish my girls, every girl, heck even 40 year old girls, could know the secret to beauty. A confident, happy girl is a beautiful girl! I wish girls were raised to know it and believe it and live it every day. Happiness is the best kind of beautiful; a beauty that can last through your lifetime. Happiness is within our control and is not dependent on how much money we have, how our bodies fit the current styles, which boy thinks we are cute, or what clothes we are wearing. Beauty is within us all. But it’s not enough for me to say that! I have to teach that to my daughters and in order to do that I have to live it and show it and believe it myself!
So here’s how I’ve started with my daughters:
- I smile everyday! Seems simple. But some days I find myself having to be extra conscience of it and try extra hard. I have to turn off the computer or put my cell phone way out of reach in order to make that smile happen. I try to share positive thoughts from each and every day. I work at telling a story about something that made me smile that day. I smile at dinner. I smile in the car even though the last thing I want to be doing is picking her up from her millionth activity that week. I allow myself to belly laugh and snort over a joke or a funny story. Let me tell you, neither of these girls thinks the belly laugh or snort is OK, especially in public! The embarrassment is visible. But I do it anyway. I want them to see passion and freedom to express happiness in its full glory! Our days are busy and chaotic and sometimes it’s hard to find the reason to smile. But I do it anyway. And I hope that they can find a reason to smile and laugh everyday too.
- I put on some fun, happy music! Music has proven to affect mood. I’m going to assume happy music leads to more happiness. My favorite way to share music together is in the car. They are a captive audience! Mostly we listen to what they like to listen to. Mostly they sing and I pretend not to notice. But I hear which songs are their favorites. I listen to funny debates about who’s got the lyrics right. Once in a while I make a comment about the words and their meanings. And once in a while I bust out my own play list and rock out to songs that I love. More often than not, we have a laugh about the song or artist! We have even been known to get home and the girls will look up one of the songs we sang, mine or hers and she reports some fun fact, some crazy hairstyle or outfit and interesting detail. Music connects us together and keeps us talking.
- I am a curious person and I am intrigued by people. I can people watch and be amused for hours! But my daughters watch people differently. They watch to be sure no one is watching them. They are aware of who is around all the time in an insecure, embarrassed sort of way. Instead of seeing a person from their school and saying ‘hi”, their teenage reaction is to dive under the clothing rack and hide until they are gone! I need to change that! I need to teach them to hold their head high and look that peer in the eye and say, “hey”. I want my daughters to go anywhere and be anyone they are meant to be and not worry about what the world thinks about them. Building confidence in my teens in not proving to be an easy task. So I try to carry myself with confidence. I try to look people in the eye, smile and have a conversation. My teenagers don’t love that I talk to EVERYONE, but I’m determined to show my girls that they matter. They have something to say. They have something to offer the world. They are valuable. They need to smile and say “Hi” and not EVER feel like they need to walk the other way or hide!
My girls are watching me. I just hope that someday they see a confident person who has given them the gift of happiness. Because right now they just see a lunatic who is singing off key and constantly talking to strangers!!
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