“Oh my gosh, did you see her outfit?”
Was she looking at me?
“Doesn’t she know that these are tryouts for cheerleaders, not losers?”
Why did I think I could do this?
“Does she really think that all that makeup can hide her gross skin?”
Am I always going to be this ugly?
Sometimes the hardest problems aren’t found in a textbook. The most worrisome questions are not from a pop quiz. The harsh words, judgmental looks and hurtful rumors can be more overwhelming than any honors class, sporting competition or music recital.
To parents of teenage daughters…
For the parents who ask their teen how school was and hear a mumbled “it was fine” before she retreats to her room every day, it can seem like your child is having a perfectly normal school experience.
What the parents do not see, however, are the tears streaming down her face as she scrolls through the cruel comments on her phone screen. They don’t know about the countless crunches she sweats through on her bedroom floor so that maybe … just maybe the girls in the locker room will stop calling her fat. Her parents are clueless about the hateful things she tells herself when she sees her reflection in the bathroom mirror after washing off the makeup that she had hoped would hide her imperfections.
She feels alone, ugly, hated and hopeless, but she puts on a fake smile as she comes to the dinner table so that no one will notice her pain.
Being a teenage girl is difficult, and being her parent can be difficult as well. The teen years are important in figuring out who you are, what you like and dislike, and in developing your own sense of individual identity. These years are crucial to one’s development, and teens should not face them alone. As much as she tells you to leave her alone, there is a large part of her that needs (and wants) you to be involved.
To help your daughter through the difficult teenage years, here’s what you can do:
- Put the phones away regularly to engage with her.
- Look her in the eyes when talking with her.
- Have meaningful conversations regularly.
- Set aside intentional time to spend together.
- Encourage her by reminding her that you’re always on her side.
- Let her know that she can always confide in you.
- Tell her that you love her and always will.
- Remind her of all the amazing qualities she has.
Sometimes teenage girls need someone, in addition to their parents, to be able to talk with and open up to about struggles, feelings, goals, fears and joys. The safe nonjudgmental environment of a counseling office and the relationship with a trained professional counselor can be a great benefit to a teen. It is a wonderful outlet for exploring and understanding her identity, acquiring tools and skills to solve problems, and building her self-confidence.
When a discouraged teenage heart opens up and experiences true acceptance, she becomes stronger. She finds her voice. She learns to love herself.
Kelli received her undergraduate degree in psychology from the University of North Texas in Denton, Texas, with an additional emphasis in counseling. She earned her master’s degree in Biblical Counseling from Dallas Theological Seminary. Kelli felt God calling her into the counseling field after experiencing her own healing through counseling during her transition into college. She has a heart for adolescents and young adults who are struggling with adjusting to new stages in life, and she desires to help empower clients to see themselves as God sees them.