After hearing so many girls in my 8thgrade classes complain about things their moms did that drove them crazy, I started asking them a question.
“What would you do differently if you were a parent?”
And sometime their responses really surprise me.
Like the one this young lady gave:
Me: How will you parent your own kids differently than you are being parented now?
Girl: I’ll definitely check on my daughter whether she looks happy or not. I smile all the time around my mom and as soon as I get in my bed, TEARS!
Me: If she were to check on you, would you be honest and tell her that you’re sad?
Me: Why do you feel you have to smile in front of her?
Girl: Because I don’t want her to think that she’s doing something wrong as a parent.
Me: How is she going to know you’re not okay if you don’t tell her you’re not okay?
Girl: Well if she doesn’t check on me, there’s nothing I can do about it. I don’t want to just go to her and be like, “Hey mom, your girl’s sad!”
Me: So, tell me what the conversation would sound like if she did what you would like for her to do?
Girl: “Hey ______, are you okay?”
Me: So that’s all it would take…for her to just say, “Are you okay?”
Girl: Yes, but she never asks me if I’m okay!
Me: That’s really interesting!
Since I had at least five other girls who also wanted to respond to the question, I didn’t have the time I needed to get to the root cause of her issue.
Why She’s Not Doing “Okay”
When reflecting over this conversation, there are two things that concern me.
- Teen girls are people pleasers
I posted the above conversation in a Moms Facebook group I’m a member of and received some interesting feedback:
One mom commented she believed the reason the girl didn’t tell her mom that she wasn’t OK (instead of waiting for her mom to ask), was because she must not have had a good relationship with the mom.
And I interpreted it totally different.
I felt she didn’t share how she was feeling because she loved her mom too much to risk making her feel bad.
Even if it was at the expense of her own mental health.
Unfortunately, the practice of pleasing others at their own expense is very common among teen girls.
Whether it’s with their parents, friends or boyfriends, the “need to please” needs to be addressed.
Another mom said even when she asks her daughter how she’s doing she normally responds with one word and that’s the end of the conversation.
I suggested she start asking her daughter open-ended questions instead of a question that would elicit a one-word response like, “Are you okay?”
Instead ask questions like,
- What was the best part of your day?
- What was the worst thing that happened to you today? etc.
I’m also a proponent of moms writing their daughters letters in order to build a connection.
It’s proven to be a great tool to help moms like you show their daughters how much they care.
So click the link below to download my FREE Guide that will assist you with writing your daughter a letter to show how much you care.
2. The teen years are tougher than you remember
Even though the young lady above said if her mom asked, she’d tell her the truth, I know it takes more than just asking questions to get some girls to share their pain.
But asking the right questions is a great starting point.
And even if you get a one-word answer, don’t let that stop you.
Continue to ask.
Your daughter will eventually realize that you’re not going to stop asking so she may as well open up to you.
But, don’t just stop with asking questions…
…Observe her behavior for signs of sadness,
…Look her in the eyes,
…Continue to be present in your daughter’s life.
Here’s the thing: Teen girls can be very good at hiding things from their parents.
So, it’s important for moms to show up unexpectantly in their daughters’ rooms from time to time.
If this young lady’s mom had done that, she may have caught her crying and would have been able to talk about the cause of her tears.
Would your daughter be upset about you showing up unexpectedly in her room?
But believe it or not, a number of girls have told me that’s one thing they’d do differently when they grow up and become parents.
Because they recognize that moms who show up in their rooms unexpectedly, do so because they care.
And when it’s all said and done, that’s what your daughter will remember.
That you cared…
When was the last time your daughter told you she was doing “okay,” but you knew better?
What were the tell-tell signs that she wasn’t okay?
I truly value when my mom readers share their mother-daughter experiences with me.
I almost always receive great insight that I can then share with other moms.
So please feel free to send me a note to firstname.lastname@example.org.
After all, we’re in this together. 😉