3 Longings of Every Teen Girl
My observation of teen girls is that most desire to "have it all together" and to act as if they are not in need of help from anyone, especially their parents. But when you can get to a quiet place with them and allow them the space to open up and be honest, there are often 3 deep longings that permeate a lot of their decision-making and behaviors.
When you can understand these longings, some of the frustrations you might be experiencing could begin to make more sense. If you can help fulfill these longings you will help her feel more secure and stable.
Nurtured - does anyone care? Teen girls often feel as if no one really cares about them. This is definitely the case with girls struggling with depression. Just because they feel it, doesn't mean that it is true.
She might be in a place emotionally that makes it difficult to nurture her. Don't give up! If you notice what you typically do to express your care is not helping, try something different.
The gestures don't have to be grand. Sometimes a simple note, card or text. Sometimes it does need to be a gift - make-up, jewelry, art supplies, etc... Make sure it's about her and her likes/interests... even if you don't necessarily like it. Sometimes the simple act of you noticing can be enough. Consistency is always the key.
Empowered - an internal boost from an outsider. Often girls struggle to see themselves as capable, lovable or acceptable. They need words of encouragement from others. They need both parents to be speaking life into them. They also need teachers, friends, other adults, pastors, etc... to be speaking life.
Words have tremendous power. Choose them carefully. Find ways to communicate her worth. Beware of just saying the same thing. They notice when you say it in a different way or use a new word. If she cringes every time you say "you are brilliant". Stop saying it and do different.
A word of caution - this longing specifically can cause her to gravitate towards romantic relationships that are unhealthy. Some will tell her exactly what she wants to hear and pierce the heart. She needs this longing filled from her family above all else. She will naturally want to be with people who build her up.
Belong - where do I fit? This is fundamental to being a teen girl. It explains why she may drift into different social circles throughout the teen years. Every teen wants to fit in, including within their family. If they feel they do not belong in their family they will find "family" elsewhere.
Notice who she is spending time with as it will tell you how she is viewing herself at that moment. Don't panic. Just because she is hanging with a group you might be not like, it doesn't mean she will stay there. It does provide an opportunity to have some open discussion as to what makes that group appealing and what might be happening under the surface.
For example, if she is beginning to feel depressed, she may no longer want to hang with her friends who are bubbly and positive. The group at school that tends to be more negative or in her mind "real" might make her feel understood and accepted.