“One minute she’s screaming that she hates you and the next moment she’s crying on your shoulder–an adolescent girl is a contradiction in terms: half-child, half-woman, all hormones. Though she may try and push you away, this is the time in her life when she needs your guidance the most.”
This quote was taken from the back cover of my newest book purchase (The Everything Guide to Raising Adolescent Girls by Moira McCarthy and Mary E. Muscari, Ph.D., R.N.).
I have only begun to read the first couple chapters, but I can already tell it’s going to change my thinking in how I’m raising my girls. I love the fact that it’s written by women, because it discusses the many changes both physically and emotionally young ladies go through. Some of these changes are hard for men to deal with, because we’ve never been through them.
It’s hard as parents to watch our children grow up from small infants who depend on us for everything (food, clean diapers, baths, quality time, etc.) into young and semi-independent people. The transition is more difficult on some than others, but I know that I’m taking a step in the right direction by reading this book.
I have four daughters. None of them have hit puberty yet (but they will). Two of them have uttered the dreaded words “I hate you” to me. One of the younger ones informs me sometimes that I’m “not her friend.” Children have so many influences in their lives besides us parents, that it is really hard for them to decipher who is right, who is wrong, and who doesn’t have a clue what they’re talking about.
When a man is raising girls on his own, it may be slightly different than when he is co-parenting with a female. I intend to fully utilize my wife’s skills, knowledge, and past experience to help out with all four of my children when it comes to the dreaded “P” word. I kind of touched on this topic once before (So, Ummm, Kinda Like, You Know?). We have, matter-of-factly, bought small bras already. It is up to us parents to steer our children in the right direction (both males and females), and to give them some sort of guidance in what they are going to deal with in their adolescence.
It is great to lean on other people for advice. The great thing about being independent thinkers is we don’t necessarily have to agree with other people’s advice. However, we can use that other side of thinking to either enforce or disprove our beliefs. I believe we help set the standard for our children, but it is up to them to grow individually into their own standards, and own beliefs.
It is important for parents to talk to their children. Communication is vital in our everyday lives, so why wouldn’t it be just as important in theirs? We need to talk to our children about what their day was like. We need to learn if they’re having difficulty in school, or if somebody is bullying them. We need to know if they are bullying someone. We need to teach our children that drugs are bad. We need to teach them that drugs kill. We need to teach them the dangers of alcohol.
We parents should spend enough time with our children to realize if they have an issue with self-esteem. We need to teach them to love themselves no matter what they look like. We need to teach them to stop looking up to movie stars and pop stars, and try to makes ourselves more of a person to be looked up at. Positive role models go a long way in raising children.
Parents need (not should, but need) to monitor our children’s internet activities. There are way too many “bad” things on the internet for us not to check our child’s online activities. There is nothing wrong with being protective of our children. They are our responsibility. I love programs like Big Brothers, Big Sisters. Positive role models for young people will always aid in a better upbringing.
The single most difficult thing I have dealt with (being a dad of four girls) is punishment. What is too much? What is too little? When is it appropriate and when should I be more lenient? Should I really “spare the rod, spoil the child?” I have also touched on that topic once before (Spare the Rod, Spoil the Child?). Should I utilize a “time-out” chair? What about chores? Which punishment fits the crime? Is it OK to use an Attitude Adjuster/Board of Education, (The Attitude Adjuster or The Board of Education?) or are those days over? Can I wash a mouth out with soap because these children haven’t learned to stop using certain words/tones/phrases? Maybe I can make them paint a fence, or pull some weeds…
But I digress…
Raising adolescent girls is no doubt one of the hardest things I have ever experienced. The whole “baby” thing? Yeah, that was pretty difficult the first time around. Now these babies know how to talk, know how to push buttons, and pretty soon are going to develop into young ladies. I hope if you have children you will take at least some of this to heart and sincerely push yourself to question your methods, your motives, and your techniques a little bit. I implore you to research what works for you the best, and go with it. Most of all, I wish you good luck in raising these adolescent children, whether they are girls or boys.
I know I’m going to definitely have my work cut out for me…