Each and every phase of parenthood comes not only with new joys, but also new challenges, and the phase of parenting a middle schooler, particularly a daughter, is certainly no exception to this. In what seems like the blink of an eye, your daughter grew far beyond the little girl that she once was. She has changed not only physically, but also emotionally, socially, and cognitively. However, she is not quite the young adult that she believes she is yet, which makes for a very… interesting transition period (to say the least) for both daughters and their mothers. No matter how tumultuous it may have been at times while raising a tantrummy toddler, it may very well be that you have never experienced stresses comparable to the ones experienced while raising your middle school daughter.
Rightfully so, it could be very hard for you to comprehend how your once sweet, innocent little angel went from sugar to spice within what seems like a second. How is it possible to parent a child who acts as though she wants nothing to do with me? How can mothers in these situations handle it while trying to foster a healthy relationship with their daughters?
If you find yourself asking these questions, I offering you the following tips:
Reflect on when you were in those same shoes.
Refrain from being overly judgmental because you were also once at the point in life that she is at today. During this transitional stage in life, your daughter is experiencing so many changes: bodily changes, social changes, and chemistry changes, just to name a few. It’s a natural part of life, and neither she nor you can control it. She is at a very confusing stage in her life, so before you yell at her for being moody as soon as she walks in the door, be mindful of that.
Always be a role model for her.
At this age, it is not uncommon for your daughter to talk back and be rude at times. Remember that you are the parent here. You should not only insist on respect but also set a positive example for her. Your daughter has followed in your footsteps ever since she was a little girl, and though it may not seem like it, she needs you more than ever. Although she is developing a newfound independence, she needs guidance during this confusing time in life. Be sure to set a positive example for her through your daily tasks, your behavior, your attitude, your manners, your wardrobe, and your health.
Give her space… to an extent.
Your daughter needs some time alone to build her own identity. Do not feel like this independence is rebellion or rejection; as much as it may feel like it, it is not. Your daughter will find comfort in the fact that you trust in her level of responsibility, but she needs to earn this trust from you. Also, since your daughter may find you intrusive during this stage, it may be wise to learn more about her from her teachers, coaches, friends, and other parents.
Be aware of what she is watching on television and doing on the Internet.
Although you should give her space, that does not mean you should stop being on top of everything. With children’s access to television and the Internet nowadays, it is important to know what they are doing with these resources. At the click of a button, your daughter has the ability to watch, read, listen to and download virtually anything. Middle school children often mimic the way they see teenage actors behave, which can be both a good and bad thing. Our society is also now a highly sexual one, which is evident in pop culture and the media. Remember that your child is still a naïve child, and you must do your very best to protect them.
P.S. You might find it to be a good idea to watch a television show or series with them. Not only can this be something to bond over, but it is also an opportunity for you to discuss important topics with them. Television shows targeted at families and pre-teens often carry a valuable message in each episode, which can act as a catalyst for you to teach your children life lessons.
I get it, it is a scary world out there. However, you have continuously been providing her with the tools she needs to take on the world, and you should trust in not only that but also her own self. As long as she has earned it, then it should be granted to her. Don’t automatically take this trust away from her after every little mistake she makes – we all make mistakes! She can learn from these mistakes. She will be much more open to listening to you if talk openly and calmly about them with her, then enforce the necessary consequences rather than scolding her right off the bat.
Realize that she is no longer your ‘Mini Me’.
Your middle school daughter is her own person, so make sure to support her in her endeavors and differing passions and interests. Make sure to encourage her to pursue the goals and talents that she has. Make sure to praise her for the successes that she accomplishes.
Parenting a middle school daughter is most certainly not the easiest parenting job, but it is all about finding the right balance. Parenting children, in general, is all about trial and error, so don’t be disheartened if you make mistakes along the way. As long as you make them maintain their respect for you, stand up for them, guide them, protect them as much as possible, exemplify who you want them to become, and constantly show them love and support, then you are doing your job as a parent.