When to Tune Out Your Teen
Mothers have an amazing skill. Since your daughter was a baby you have learned how to tune in to her every look, movement, and sound she’s ever made. By the time your daughter is a teenager, your ‘tuning in’ skill is highly developed. Now, it seems like you can tune into your daughter’s emotional state from a hundred miles away. You know what kind of mood she is in by the way she shuts the door, opens the refrigerator and what clothes she puts on.
There are so many positive aspects of this ‘tuning in’ skill.
1. ‘Tuning in’ enables you to protect your daughter. You are ‘tuned in’ and know if she is telling you the truth. You know when things don’t add up. You know what she needs and when she needs help or protection.
2. ‘Tuning in’ fosters empathy and compassion. This is needed to have a secure attachment and a close loving relationship with your daughter. She gets that you know what she is feeling and that you care. This enables her to feel loved.
But there is a negative side of “tuning in.”
Mothers can get stuck in hyper ‘tuned in’ mode. You can get so ‘tuned in’ to your daughter that by default, you tune out everything else, including you. Your daughter picks up on your hyper ‘tuned in’ mode and she will react. She will either throw a fiery dart at you or she will avoid you by hiding in her room.
See, it’s very important that you learn when to tune in and when to tune out. A happy, healthy mom finds a balance between tuning in and tuning out. You don’t want to be hyper ‘tuned in’ and you don’t want to be so detached that you are always ‘tuned out’.
There are many benefits to tuning out. The main benefit is that it decreases unnecessary drama between you and your daughter.
Your daughter is going to have dramatic moments. She can’t help it. She is hard-wired for drama with her hormonal surges, undeveloped prefrontal cortex, and concrete thinking. She is a triple threat for drama.
Her drama is like a fire. When mothers get hyper tuned in to their daughters it’s like you add gasoline to the fire. When you ‘tune out’, you are not feeding the fire and eventually, the fire will go out.
You are hyper ‘tuned in’ to your daughter when…
- She gets into the car after school and you immediately say, “What’s wrong?
- She reads a text and tears up and you say with great emotion, “Are you ok?”
- It’s Saturday morning and she stumbles out of bed and you ask her to clean her room and she slams the door. You decide to give her a lecture right then about manners.
- You are driving her to school on the first day and you remind her of 7 things that she needs to do. And she snaps at you to shut up. You yell back that she can’t talk to you that way.
These scenarios will escalate into a big drama scene. They can be avoided by tuning out.
4 Reasons Why ‘Tuning Out’ Benefits You and Your Teenage Daughter
1. Your daughter needs space to feel her own feelings. It’s ok if she cries or gets upset. Many of her down moods will pass quickly. They are like the afternoon summer showers in Colorado. There may be hard rains and lightning, but it will quickly pass.
***If her depressed mood lasts longer than a few days, then you can step in and see what is going on.
2. You won’t take it personally. When you are hyper ‘tuned in’ to your daughter you take things personally. If she is in a bad mood, you think it’s aimed at you. If she is unhappy, you think you are not doing a good job as a mother. If she is ungrateful, you feel she is taking advantage of you. Nothing can set a mother off quicker than taking it personally.
When you are ‘tuned out’, her bad mood won’t get to you.
3. Tuning out decreases anxiety.
If you are hyper ‘tuned in’ to your daughter, then you are prone to fear. When you are hyper ‘tuned in’, you usually are not tuning into her strengths and successes. Most likely you are tuning in to her sad, stressed or angry moments. Your imagination will make mountains out of these ‘molehill’ moments.
4. Timing is everything. A normal teenage girl will have happy moments, calm moments, sad moments and stressful moments every day. There are predictable times that your daughter is going to be in a bad mood or stressed. If your daughter is sleepy, hungry or stressed she will not be her happy self.
Tune her out when she is having one of those moments. Most likely the storm will pass. Tune in when she is back to herself. This will save you lots of grief.
This morning my daughter and I left to go on a vacation. My daughter and I are not morning people. She was rushing through the house and it looked like she was in a bad mood. If I was hyper ‘tuned in’ I would think, “Why is she mad at me?” or “She is so ungrateful. Here I am taking her on a trip and she acts this way.” But I tuned her out, knowing she is not her best in the morning. Thirty minutes later we are laughing and completely enjoying each other.
Tuning her out saved me unnecessary drama.
This week give yourself the gift of tuning out.