Kermit the Frog once said: It’s not easy being green. Totally with you, Kermit! I would go one step further and say – it’s not easy being thirteen. Especially a thirteen-year-old girl. I have two teenagers, one son and one daughter, but I find that it is my daughter who needs more help navigating the complexity that comes with the road to womanhood. (Insert collective sigh here from parents across the universe.)
I don’t know about you, but I get tired of the ‘dealing with teen girls’ articles. Like it is a curse and you have to hold your breath for five years until it passes. Call me naive, but what I believe our girls need more than ever at this crucial time of their lives is love, love and more love. Sometimes when they act the most unlovable is when they need our love the most. Yeah, it’s tough. But so worth it!
I am a writer, so it’s no surprise that I write my kids letters. Lots of letters. Too many, if you ask them. And they are all waaaay too long. I am working on that. 🙂 But in my defense, it is exhausting trying to impart values and important life lessons in the bite-size chunks that you get with a teen’s life: in between their time with friends, extracurricular activities, homework, Netflix binges, long silences behind closed doors punctuated by long narratives of the day’s latest drama. Why do so many teachable moments present themselves right as she is getting out of the car?? Half the time I am pulling out one of her ear buds to ask her what she wants for dinner, so finding the ‘right’ time to have a lengthy heart to heart has turned into, how fast can I deliver what she needs to hear in an engaging ‘quip’ that will stick? I am quick on my feet, but I’m only human, for God’s sake.
So I write. A lot. I need time to sort out my thoughts, make sure I hit the right notes and points. We are raising people, after all. This is important stuff. Not everyone is a writer, that’s just always been my thing, but there are lots of ways to deliver the love and guidance our girls so desperately need.
I believe these are five critical things our girls need to hear from us. Again and again. In whatever format or bite-size chunk of time that works:
- Just be you. In every situation. With everyone. The authentic, real you. You is awesome! Don’t worry about what everyone else is doing, thinking, saying, posting or wearing. Find your own style, favorite music, artists, interests. True beauty is not a ‘flawless’ face, number on a scale, or number of A’s on your report card. True beauty is being yourself, believing in yourself, and feeling happy and confident with who you are – loving yourself simply because you are you. I do. Someday, I hope you will, too. (If I have done my job right, you will.)
- Listen to your heart. Listen to me. Listen to friends you truly trust. Observe the other kids. Read reliable articles. Watch documentaries, whatever you need to do. Take it all in. Then wait and listen for what YOU feel and think. When you face a big decision or stressful situation, give yourself time and space to think and let your feelings sort themselves out. Sleep on it. Give yourself some quiet and self-care (pedicure, anyone?) to reflect. You will learn what it feels like to know you have made the right decision. It feels like this: your mind will be quiet. Your heart will be calm. You will feel at peace. Be patient. This takes time. Talk to me. I will listen more than I talk (I will try, I promise!). I will help you sort it all out and learn how to trust your instincts.
- Know yourself. Spend your time focusing on you, rather than the drama and people around you. Ask yourself questions. What do you need to be happy? (Hint: if you say a boyfriend, try again.) What do you want for your life? What kind of person do you want to be? What are your values? What do you believe in? What do you want in a friend? What are your pet peeves? What makes you feel loved? What are you missing? What are you grateful for? The better you know yourself, the more confident you will be – and you will find that the myriad choices you have to make will be much easier. And know this: I believe in you. I will believe in you until someday soon you believe in you, too.
- Find your light. What lights you up inside? What skills or activities make you happy? What are you good at? What do you love to do when you have nothing to do? Which people make you happy and feel great about yourself? Who is always there for you and supports you? Anything and anyone who doesn’t make this list – avoid at all costs.
- I love you. Always. Forever. No matter what. Rain or shine. Good days and bad. We will get through this together. It may not be pretty. But we’ll figure it out, you and me. I am not perfect. I don’t always have the right words, answers or advice. Sometimes I’m cranky and tired. I am on my own journey, too. But I will never stop trying. Or writing. 🙂 I will be your biggest fan and cheerleader. Always. Forever. And EVER. I will fight for you, believe in you, protect you, listen to you, say no when I need to, stand by you, drive you, hug you, dry your tears, celebrate your wins, commiserate your losses, kiss your forehead, rub your back when it hurts, write you boring letters – sometimes all of this in one day – and then I will tell you again and again how awesome you are until you, my shiny little gem, see it too. xoxo
Okay, readers – your turn: what essential truths do you believe our girls need to hear?