How to Connect with Your Teen Daughter in the Age of Coronavirus
If you’re anything like I am, the last thing you want to get is another email that has anything to do with the Coronavirus.
Unfortunately, none of us can escape the impact it’s having on our lives.
Not you. Not me. Not your daughter.
The schools where I speak regularly have closed and moved to online learning for at least two weeks.
Friday, I was speaking at a high school on the last day of in-person classes and was surprised to hear how many students weren’t excited about the decision.
As much as they may not want to show it, I believe teens long for connection.
They’ve even told me as much.
How’s Your Connection?
The connection girls long for isn’t just with their peers.
It’s with their parents as well.
I mentioned in a previous post that I’ve been doing research with the students for a book I plan to write for parents.
One of the questions I ask students is, “When you become a parent, is there anything you will do differently than your parents?”
I’m as shocked as you may be when I hear them say they will spend time with their daughters, unlike their moms.
Below are just a few of the comments I’ve heard from teen girls:
“I’ll spend time with my daughter. When I was younger, my mom and I used to spend a lot of time together. But now, she doesn’t have time for me. I’m an only child and it’s just the two of us so I wish we could spend more time together. She’s all I have.”
~8th grade girl
“I will spend time with my daughter and not put work in front of her.”
~9th grade girl
“I would spend more time with my kids. Because my mom does these mental health days where she’ll let me stay home from school to just calm down and de-stress from everything. And she doesn’t actually stay with me. She just leaves. So, I’m like by myself. And even on school breaks, she doesn’t spend time with me even though I wish she did.”
~8th grade girl
These young ladies are proof that teen girls crave quality time with their mothers.
Now imagine how these girls would feel if they read and/or heard their moms complain about them being home from school due to the Coronavirus.
This topic came up on Facebook recently, when one of my Facebook friends posted the following:
I never wanted to believe that some parents don’t like their children. But I’m reading some of these posts. When faced with being exposed to a pandemic or being home with you, some of you are really struggling.
No, I’m not saying all of you don’t like your kids. But there’re way too many. I mean, as parents, we created and raised them, so what’s not to like?
It may seem like this mom’s Facebook post is a stretch, but it could be how teens interpret their parents’ response when they aren’t happy about them being out of school for an extended time.
They could be thinking, “My parents don’t want me to be home because they don’t like me and don’t want to spend time with me.”
So, my advice?
Be careful about speaking negatively about your daughter being out of school and consider the message you may be communicating to her.
Teen girls are at a stage in life where being liked is paramount to their self-esteem and mental health.
It’s bad enough they have doubts about whether they are liked by their peers.
You certainly don’t want your daughter to doubt whether she’s liked by her parents.
Here are some suggestions of how to take advantage of this time while your daughter’s at home (due to the pandemic), and communicate to her that you want to spend time with her.
Not just because she’s your daughter, but because you like her:
- Speak positively about the opportunity to spend more time with her. Even if you’ve already made negative comments about her being home from school, just apologize to her for not having the right perspective and go from there. Here’s another nugget: Students also tell me their parents could score major points with them if they apologized for being wrong.
- Create a schedule you’ll follow with designated time to connect as a family. Whether you use that time to watch a television show/movie, play a board game, bake cookies, do a craft project or share a meal together at the kitchen table, the important thing is for your daughter to know you are making time with her a priority. Because what gets scheduled, gets done.
- Use this experience as an opportunity to help your daughter practice gratitude. Determine a service project the two of you can do together to help those who may not be as fortunate as you are or are considered high-risk at this time.
- Create Thank You notes to send to healthcare professionals or first responders.
- If you’re in an area where meals aren’t being provided for students who may not have food at home, assemble care packages to deliver to them.
- Take her with you to grocery shop for elderly family or neighbors who may be too vulnerable to go out in public.
In these unprecedented and uncertain times, it’s important now more than ever that you and your daughter are connected.
While the Coronavirus may have disrupted our lives and forced us to practice social distancing, the silver lining in all of this is this:
You get to spend more quality time with your daughter!
And who knows, maybe one of these days you’ll both look back and remember that time when a pandemic brought you closer together.
In the meantime, when your daughter’s finished with online classwork, please have her check out my Instagram page @jackiebspeaks periodically.
I’ll be hosting LIVE discussions so I can stay connected with teen girls while I’m out of the classroom as well.
After all, we’re all in this together!
P.S. Teen girls thrive on social interaction. Yes, with their peers, but even more so with their parents. So, take advantage of this time of “social distancing” while your daughter’s out of school to strengthen your connection with her.
P.P.S. Please share this post with your friends on social media. With all the upheaval Coronavirus has caused, it’s important that parents not allow it to disrupt their relationship with their teens as well. And the insight shared in this post can help!
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