Parents and teens have always argued with each other, since time began. They have argued about school, relationships, privileges, responsibilities, and everything else you can think of. However, teens today have a whole slew of complications which can seem to make their lives even more difficult than generations before.
Background and Statistics
Teens have always rebelled, that is nothing new. However, teens nowadays rebel in much different ways than before. Parents and grandparents may have expressed their personalities in yearbooks, diaries, and other sorts of printed mediums. Now, teenage girls are probably going to be showing their personalities on things like Snapchat and Facebook. Technology and the culture of instant accessibility places pressures on them to do so. Similarly, this generation relies heavily on text messaging and group chats rather than phone calls.
Alcohol and Substance Abuse
Statistics show that there has been a decrease in alcohol consumption among teens in the last 40 years. In 1975, 75% of teens admitted to alcohol consumption within past 30 days compared to just 40% today. Marijuana usage, however, has remained at about a steady 40% of high school seniors admitting to use in past 12 months. Additionally, the now widespread legalization of marijuana nationwide has made the drug socially acceptable and appear harmless to kids.
Love and Romance
The average age of marriage for women has risen in the last 40 years as well. The average age was 22 in 1980 and is now 28. Teen girls nowadays place a much greater emphasis on independence and are much less concerned with finding a spouse. Previous generations were more or less required to find a successful husband in order to fulfill societal expectations and ensure a stable future. This is no longer the case. Additionally, same sex relationships are now becoming increasingly socially acceptable.
Racial and Minority Issues
Racial tensions skyrocketed during the 1960’s and 70’s. This tension seemed to subside during following years, but rose sharply again in 2014 when Eric Garner and Michael Brown were gunned down by police officers. High school students were among the forefront of the protest marches during this time. A lot of teens feel deeply and personally involved in these issues, and are very motivated to take action. The election of Trump sparked even further political activism in the millennials as racial issues continue to dominate the nation’s attention.
Although much has changed, there are areas where parents can find overlap. Like previous generations, millennials still express their worry and uncertainty about the future. Transitioning from adolescence to adulthood is always a challenge, no matter the decade. The income gap continues to grow, and economic concerns remain omnipresent. These economic issues are at the most obvious when it comes to college-related expenses. Teens also worry about what’s going to happen after college while some feel like their parents worked hard and paved the way for them to receive an education.
How Parents Can Build Better Relationships with Their Teen Daughters
While parents often note that their teen girl can be emotional and moody, they should never take it personally. Even while keeping this in mind, these teens can be hard to work with. You might be tempted to fight with her, a better solution is often to give your daughter her space and let her find her own path. The following tips can be a useful guide through these tumultuous times.
- You are the adult — You are raising a teenager who will one day go on to become her own person. She must be ready to make good decisions when the time comes. Above all, she needs moral guidance, not more friends. You are the parent, act like it.
- Enjoy regular family time together apart from electronics — Bake cookies. Take a walk. Grab a cup of coffee or hot chocolate. Whatever the activity, time together without screens will provide your family with warm memories for years to come. Take advantage of the power of a quick day trip to reconnect and recharge your batteries.
- Model responsible behaviors and any moral qualities you want her to emulate — Honesty, compassion and responsibility are key on the list. Talk about your values as well. She is absorbing more than you might think.
- Clarify your family rules — When your daughter knows your core values, she will know the consequences of breaking them from the start. Hopefully, this will help her make wise decisions.
- Teach her boundaries — As she develops her own relationships, she will need to learn how to keep and set her own boundaries.
- Admit your mistakes — Your transparency can help her realize that mistakes are not the end of the world. Apologize and admit that you aren’t perfect.
- Keep your cool even when she doesn’t — It’s okay to take a break in the midst of a heated conversation.
- Listen more, talk less — Treat her with respect just as you would any adult in your life. As you let her process her feelings, she will learn life-long problem-solving skills. Even during a disagreement, be sure that you are a safe place for her to land.
- Encourage her when she makes the right choices — Look for her strengths and compliment her on those. She will respond to your praise, which will build her self-confidence.
- Reassure her that you love her even when you quarrel — Experts measure a parent/teen bond through a range of experiences including joy in spending time together, expression of various feelings and sharing daily experiences. Resolving a disagreement is more important than never disagreeing in the first place.
- Laugh — Laughter defuses stressful situations, helping both you and your teen to learn to roll with the punches.