Raising Teen Girls
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Insights into the mental health and well-being of teen girls...

Are you too controlling of your teen daughter?

What is so incredibly difficult with this question is that there is no black or white answer to it.  Everyone's situation is going to be unique to them including each teen daughter you have.  You might have one that is quite trust worthy and you are more lenient.  Then there is the one that pushes and pushes so you tend to grab the reigns a little tighter.

What I can tell you is that teen girls do need some level of control but maybe we should look at a different perspective of the control.  Below are several key points about control and your teen daughter...

Control is felt.  What one girl might feel as control another might not see it that way at all.  Some girls feel they are being controlled when that isn't the case and some feel it because mom and dad are definitely trying to dictate their life.  When your daughter starts to exclaim that she is feeling controlled, it's an opportunity to pause and assess if and at what level you are controlling.

Excessive questioning or constantly bringing up the same issues over and over can be felt as controlling.  Saying no excessively is also a culprit.  Even if she is asking for ridiculous freedoms, try to find something you can say yes to.

Control is about fear.  Most of the time when girls and their parents get into a stand off about control there is underlying fear for one or both of them.  There are legitimate fears that parents face and keeping their daughter safe is critical.  However, often a parent's personal experiences from the past begin to trigger a lot of fear resulting in more control.  If your daughter is experiencing control it's really important to ask yourself about your own fear.  There needs to be legit evidence in her life that your fear is valid and about the present not the past.

Too often parents with very good intentions are being unreasonable or not allowing her to explore and make the necessary mistakes to grow-up.  The fear can be so overwhelming, especially for moms. 

Control should be released as she ages.  This might be the hardest action for parents to take as their daughter grows up.  I often see girls who are caught up in a battle for control.  The control you have in middle school should look radically different as a young adult. 

As she ages, more and more rope should be let out.  She is going to make mistakes.  She needs to make them, especially in your home. Then you can guide her and help her get through it.  If you keep too tight of control and demand compliance then you can expect her to go off to college and freak out or she might move out when she turns 18 just to escape.  She will not be equipped to handle what the world throws at her.

Your college age daughter is going to make decisions you don't like.  She is in prime identity development time.  She will challenge your beliefs and often go against how you see the world.  How you handle this makes a huge difference.  In your fear you can push her away, sometimes to a point she will not come back.  Stand firm in your beliefs but keep your approach gentle.  Beware of the fear taking over and wrecking the relationship. 

In general, if you handle this time well you will notice significant changes in her 20's.  What she thinks at 18-22 is most likely NOT AT ALL how she will think at 26.  She is still very immature and trying to figure things out.  She needs some bumps and scars to strengthen her. 

Rules without Relationship = Rebellion.  This might be the most important factor in how or what she views as controlling.  If you do not have a relationship with her or have not taken the time to be with her without constant complaints, criticisms or corrections then you can expect a lot of conflict over control.  A person who has a relationship that is built on good/positive times, connection and intimacy will be more likely to respect the rules.

Parents have to take the lead on this.  It's not her responsibility and she will most likely not initiate it.  Take time out to do things with her.  If she goes to yoga, go with her even if you are frustrated with her.  Invest in the relationship.  You will reap the benefits of taking time out and an interest in what she likes even if it's not exactly your taste or liking. 

If you are constantly griping to her about something and you notice she is not responding well, then stop and try a different approach.  There are very few "dangerous" issues.  Most are a matter of preference.  For example, say you value health and fitness but your daughter doesn't so she eats junk food and is slightly overweight. You may end up harping on her too much and ultimately communicating to her that she is unacceptable.  This will hurt the relationship and ultimately lead to rebellion.

The battle for control during the teens years can be incredibly frustrating.  Remember that just because she feels controlled doesn't mean that she is being controlled.  Keep watch on your motivations when setting rules and guidelines and always strive to maintain the relationship.  Allow room for negotiations.  Teen girls want to think they have a say in their life so give them some room to speak with you about the reasons for the rules.  Be open and listen to their thoughts.  This will create connection and increase the chances of less conflict.

Trying to figure this all out on your own can be rough. RTG wants to help!!  We have several coaching classes for moms in the fall with more to come.  Check out our current schedule to see if one might be a fit for you.  Talking about conflict resolution and setting rules is exactly what we do in these groups.  Don't miss out!