How to Get Off the Emotional Roller Coaster with Your Teen
Is your happiness dependent on your teen’s happiness?
Here’s why I asked you this question.
Last week a mom told me with a big smile on her face, “I guess it’s time to go back to my recovery meeting,” I asked her, “Why?” She told me that one of her friends asked her how she was doing and she answered, “My daughter is really happy.”
I burst out laughing, because I love this mother’s honesty, and I can relate as a mother of a teenage girl. I think most mothers can relate.
It’s so tempting to feel if my teen is doing well then I am doing well. And if she’s not, we not only feel her emotions, we feel like failures.
This is why parenting a teen can be so emotionally draining.
As mothers, we strongly identify with our daughters.
Unconsciously, we strap ourselves into the emotional roller coasters with our daughters and off we go. And it’s not a fun ride.
If our teen had a bad day, we had a bad day. If she is stressed, we are stressed. If her boyfriend broke her heart, then our heart hurts. It brings back all our painful memories.
Yes, there are times you get a reprieve and think it is all better. Your daughter is having a good day. She is upbeat and positive and you begin to relax… but then you round the next corner for an unexpected drop.
This is exhausting!!!!!!!
Add to this, we think we have to fix it. We feel we have to take away her bad feelings and make her happy. Though there are some teenage girls that are more level, the majority of teenage girls will have major ups and downs. They are hard-wired for drama.
If you are not intentional 2 things are going to happen.
- You will be emotionally glued to your teen. No one wins here. She will not appreciate all your sacrifice. This is a breeding ground for big drama.
- You get fed up with her and completely detach. You tell yourself “she’s made her bed, now she has to lie in it.”
There is another way and that is to build a Teen Team.
It’s not all your responsibility.
Yes, you are a big part of her life, but think of yourself as the CEO of your daughter’s well-being.
You are current and knowledgeable of all the specifics with your daughter, but you don’t have to do or be everything to her. You just step back and evaluate what your daughter needs and then create an all-star team to surround your daughter.
How to Build a Teen Team
1. Remember it’s not all on you. Instead of blaming or shaming yourself, take a minute and write down all the adults who are in your daughter’s life and ask yourself these questions.
• Who are the positive role models and who are not?
• Where does your daughter need help and support?
• Who is on your daughter’s dream team?
2. Get other family members involved including dads, partners, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and siblings
Identify the positive role models in your family and be intentional about spending time with them. This includes nephews, nieces or brothers, and sister uncles and aunts. You want your daughter to hang out with as many positive family members as possible.
Have consistent multi-generational family gatherings. These are very grounding for teenagers because it gives them a safe place to belong that’s absent of peer pressure. The wisdom and history contained in multi-generations is very effective in calming down the angsty teenager.
Dads have a very important role to play in their daughter’s life. When a daughter feels special, loved, and protected by her father she flourishes.
Dad’s words of encouragement are very powerful. I know this from my own life. I always knew my dad accepted, delighted, and believed in me. This confidence has stayed with me throughout my life.
Dads overall, are better at staying detached from the emotional drama.
The problem is that dads can feel out of the loop and disconnected. Their default mode is to rely on you for everything concerning the daughter.
(This is why you feel it’s all on your shoulders.)
When dads are disconnected from the day-to-day issues, they miss the mark with parenting issues, because they don’t have the information. Dads can be all-star players with extra coaching and day-to-day information. He also may need a few ideas on how to spend time with his daughter. He can start small by taking her to get coffee or breakfast once a week.
“But I am a single parent and I don’t have her dad’s support.”
Don’t worry. You can still build your daughter’s team with other positive role models.
3. Surround your daughters with positive role models and mentors such as teachers, tutors, instructors, and youth ministers–people who will love, support, challenge, and encourage your daughter.
Obviously, not every teacher or instructor is going to be a positive influence. Many of them will use shame tactics with your daughter. Your job is to be aware of how these adults impact your daughter.
Your awareness informs you on who needs to be on the Daughter Team.
Example: If her teachers are condescending you can hire an encouraging tutor.
4. Get professional help from dieticians, life coaches, or licensed therapists.
Your daughter will have ups and downs, but there may be times she needs extra support.
If you are concerned your daughter is suffering from severe depression, anxiety, loss, trauma, eating disorders, or drug and alcohol abuse, don’t hesitate to get help. This can be a frightening time for parents. Often times the more you try to help, the angrier your daughter gets. Don’t see this as a failure on your part. You just need another person on the daughter team.