Today, I was eating lunch with a friend. As usual, parenting topics came up and she gave some advice that I found very wise. We were discussing daughters and the struggles that come as they enter the preteen/teen years.
Before I begin, I want to first say that, in our family, we do not accept the culture's definition of "teenager." We do not believe that there is an acceptable few years where irresponsibility and disrespectful behavior is expected and even accepted as a norm. Nor do we believe that gradually increasing fighting and disharmony in the home is the natural way for young adults to then desire to split from the family at the age of 18. We believe that as a child approaches adulthood, they are to be trained even more, so that they may know how to live out on their own. We believe that a respectful relationship that becomes closer and closer is necessary to allow the young adult more and more freedoms within the protection of home. This allows the child to experience the world little by little, observe mistakes, make mistakes, and learn all while communicating and learning from these experiences with their parents. That said, there are natural hormonal changes and new found desires that make the child want to form their own beliefs, find their own way, and discover if their way is what their parents say.
This is where my friend's wisdom came in and reminded me of some very real aspects of our growing daughters:
When a girl's body begins to change, she is also changing inside. God has designed her to desire to be a wife and a homemaker. She desires her own space to manage, even if she does not realize this. The problem is, is that she is still in her mother's home. Her mother is still the manager of their home (under the leadership of her husband). Especially in the current culture, girls have to wait a very long time, much longer than in past generations, to be considered an acceptable age to marry and leave the home. This is a large portion of the frustration that builds within girls of this age.
So, how does a wise mother deal with this? Here are some practical ideas.
*Allow her to be in charge of a meal. If she is old enough, she could even have a budget for the meal, plan it, and gather the ingredients while you are at the store. She could check out herself.
*Give her control of a room to decorate and keep tidy. It could be a bathroom, an entry way, and extra living area, anywhere. Allow her to have a bucket that is all her own containing her own supplies needed to clean that particular room.
*Ask her to help you plan the order of the home, like the chore schedule, meal plan, etc.
*Allow her to join you as you budget for the month.
*Help her to start a home business that she can keep running, coming to you for guidance. This is a good one to allow her a creative outlet.
*Allow her to begin a garden in your yard that she must maintain.
*Give her a subject in your school that she can teach. For example, older students are wonderful phonics teachers for your youngest learner.
There are many, many more ideas that would be helpful. Please share them if you want in the comments. The point is to show her that you respect her growth, value her ideas, and to give her a creative outlet. This is all while you are still there as mom to provide the guidance and boundaries needed for her specific maturity.