Ever wonder what your teen daughter is thinking?
Trying to figure out what your teen daughter might be thinking can be like attempting to solve a Rubik's Cube! Often parents just give up. It's completely normal for your daughter to stop talking to you at the same level she did in elementary school. Privacy becomes the new rule and confiding in friends the norm.
Parents can struggle during this time to know how to best help her. I hear that a lot... "how can I best support her?" "What can I do?". "She won't talk to me so I don't know what's going on." I have observed that when she clams up, parents tend to panic, especially moms. Asking more questions is usually the result but most likely ineffective. It can be helpful to know some of the common themes.
Several years ago I started speaking to groups of girls and I realized that lectures are ineffective and speeches bore them to tears unless you are highly entertaining... which I am not! I discovered that every girl had a burning question but was not going to ask it in front of the group and risk "being found out". I started to have them write anonymous questions ahead of time so that I could prepare and come ready to answer them. This is now my go-to method of talking to girls because it is so effective.
At first I thought either no one would ask or they would ask really inappropriate questions. I was floored the first time I received a 5 page document of questions. I'll admit, some of the questions were heartbreaking. The weight of what they are carrying is intense.
I was prepping to meet with a group of girls this week, reviewing their questions and I thought... "parents should know about this". They still continue to cause me to pause at the heaviness. I want to share some of these questions with parents, not to shame, cause guilt or panic but to educate.
Your daughter is most likely dealing with some of these questions. She may come across as unaware but you would be surprised at the burden she is carrying for herself and/or her friends.
- How do I stop my anger?
- How do I move on from hurt? Why do I feel this way? Why can't I control it sometimes?
- Being told all the time that I am great & beautiful, but I still don't believe it... why?
- How can I know my worth?
- How can I make myself less negative?
- How do I deal with depression because I found out I don't have anyone to talk to, I am alone?
- How can I improve communication with my mom?
- What can I do when I want to hurt myself?
- I don't like talking to people about what I am feeling and going through because I am embarrassed. How can I talk to someone I trust more so I wont have mental breakdowns?
- How can I deal with stress?
- How do I know if I am in a controlling relationship?
- What do I do when no one seems to want to listen?
This is just a sample of many questions and most have been asked multiple times by several different girls. These questions are asked by typical teen girls, not ones who are in treatment for mental health.
As you can see the topics are broad but a common theme is dealing with emotions. As we have talked about and will continue to discuss, teen girls struggle with their emotions and need a lot of help and support to develop Emotional Intelligence (EQ). I feel blessed and honored to be able to talk to them about these life skills but the true development of EQ begins at home.
How you can help
It may be good to do some research on these topics and start talking about them more in your home. Consider how all family members deal with their emotions and discuss it. Everyone can improve regardless of age.
Listen to her conversations, especially about friends. Now, this doesn't mean read her text messages or tap her phone but often she is talking in group settings and you might not notice. Moms frequently tell me that a great time to listen is in the car with her friends. You will get a wealth of info if you just stay quiet and listen. If she is older, having friends around the house and talking as a group can bring up good info.
Get her professional help if she needs it. Keep trying counselors until you find the right fit. I had a client one time tell me she probably would not have made it, if her mom hadn't brought her to get help. Enlist help and get support!