Girls and middle school are a bad mix. They can be so vicious and catty to each other that it boggles the mind. I remember those years all too well and, yikes. And now that I have a teen daughter of my own (and another on her heels), just watching her try to navigate these difficult years gives me nightmares. I’m doing my best to crawl inside her head and understand what’s going on in there so I can be a better mom. How do I motivate her, help her, support her, and keep her safe?
In general, we are really close. We talk a lot, spend loads of time together, and I try to listen. I do my best not to lecture and preach. I want her to know that, no matter what, I will always be her biggest ally, fan and champion.
As I was talking to a friend about parenting and teens, I had a thought. Why don’t I ask my daughter what she thinks we parents ought to know. Since I think she is smart and insightful, she is my subject matter expert. So I wrote out a list of questions and handed it to her with a pen. She said she loved filling it out. I thought I’d share.
Lizzy: What do you and your friends talk about the most?
Morgan: Hot boys
Lizzy: Where is your favorite place to go shopping?
Morgan: Hollister and Abercrombie
Lizzy: What is the biggest issue facing girls your age?
Morgan: Judging each other for what we look like and not who we are.
Lizzy: If you could change one thing about your life, what would it be?
Morgan: That I could have my dad. I miss him and that has been very hard for me.
Lizzy: If you hit the lottery, what is the first thing you would buy?
Morgan: A new iPhone and a VW Beetle.
Lizzy: If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Morgan: Rome or the Bahamas again.
Lizzy: What is the hardest thing you’ve ever had to cope with?
Morgan: Stress about friends, boys and school and being judged.
Lizzy: What do you think is the best way a kid can deal with bullying?
Morgan: Just not let it bother you and brush it off like it’s nothing.
Lizzy: What do you think is really fashionable?
Morgan: Just being yourself and wearing what you want to wear.
Lizzy: Do you think you should have a curfew and, if yes, what should it be?
Morgan: Around 10 o’clock on school nights and midnight on weekends.
Lizzy: What is the coolest thing about your life?
Morgan: That I was born somewhere totally different from everyone else. [Morgan was born in Viliky Novgorod, Russia]
Lizzy: What would you like to say to bullies?
Morgan: I would just like to send them the middle finger.
Lizzy: What would you like to say to a teen who is being bullied?
Morgan: Everything is okay and just know that you are beautiful and just send the bully the middle finger to their face.
Lizzy: What is your favorite social media site and why?
Morgan: Instagram and Snapchat because it is fun to see what other people are doing.
Lizzy: How many selfies do you take a day? And why do you take so many?
Morgan: Probably two because I can put them on Instagram some time.
Lizzy: What should moms know about teen girls?
Morgan: They will hide stuff from you but if it is really bad, they will end up telling you.
Lizzy: How do you think moms can be better moms?
Morgan: Just try not to get so much in our business.
Lizzy: What is the worse punishment you can think of?
Morgan: Getting my phone taken away or not being able to go out.
Lizzy: Am I, as your mom, too strict or just right?
Morgan: You are too strict. You should be more relaxed. Like you should stop worrying about me all the time.
I loved reading Morgan’s responses. I learned something new and got some good pointers. I have to remember that the pact we made when she was in kindergarten of “no secrets” is not necessarily realistic anymore. But I do believe her when she says that if there’s something big, she will tell me. She deserves privacy and I will try my best to accept it. Finding that balance of trust and backing off versus being watchful is a tough one for me, though.
Keeping the lines of communication open between the two of us is, however, essential. So I will do my best to keep talking to her, spend as much quality time together as possible, and tell her every single day how much I love her. I watch and listen, hope and pray.