Those who know me, know that I am never short on words or advice. If one does not want to hear my advice, I give them the out, prefacing my comments with: “You may not want to hear what I have to say…” I do not voice my opinion if it is not wanted. So, if you do not want to hear my advice on raising teenage daughters, read no further.
Many parents and kids today hate to hear the truth. Parents love to assume that their child is perfect and uber smart; that he or she never lies, steals or cheats. These parents love to blame other parents and their kids’ friends when something goes wrong, instead of looking in the mirror and taking full (or partial) blame themselves. And in our small yet over-protected community, some parents even threaten others with a lawsuit–really!!!!
The other day at the gym, with pure joy, I was able to exercise with my dear friend Linda (co-author of PermissionSlips). Linda and I enjoy each other’s advice and company, and share deep-rooted Midwest values when raising our children. We give our kids just enough rope to slip and just enough rope to reel them back in. Since Linda has four children, she is far more experienced in child rearing than I. But I have more girls than she does.
Linda and I commonly discuss the latest issues surrounding her Number Two and Three sons, who are friends with my two daughters. Linda loves to hear the stories of our community from the “girls” point of view, and I like to hear the “boys” point of view. On this particular day at the gym, she asked if I would be willing to share my advice with PermissionSlips readers. So, here goes:
Keep Kids Busy
When my daughters were babies, a very wise neighbor said to me, “The best advice I can give you when raising a daughter is to keep her very busy, very, very busy. The busier your daughter is, the less likely she is to get into trouble.” I have lived by those words.
My girls have been over-programmed since they could start Kindermusik and infant swimming. They have played on every sport team and taken every type of sport lessons, including, but not limited to, horseback riding and water skiing.
What has stuck for more than 16 years with my oldest is dance. At 18 years of age she is still dancing. My 16 year old has been dancing for 14 years. I like to think they are too busy and exhausted to get into trouble.
Make Children Accountable
In our household, we have always made the guilty party accountable for their wrong. No taking the cell phone or car away. Why would we do that? It only punishes the parents. Take away something that is embarrassing or puts the child on edge – maybe no Varsity baseball team or cheer squad. How about doing the punishment that the principal states is required for forging a parent’s signature, instead of arguing that your child would never do such a thing?
Honesty is the Only Policy
In our home, I raised my girls to be honest. We stress that no matter how terrible the crime is, be honest about it. We parents can help our children out of a bind if they tell the truth. The truth never changes, but lies always change. In our home, if the truth is told there is no additional punishment. If there was, then why tell the truth in the first place? Some kids would relish a night, week and month with out being wired into something. Just tell the truth.
Never Judge Others
My girls know that I will never judge their friends. Everyone’s personal life is different. Everyone’s family situation is different. And truthfully, some family situations are terrible. Does that give us permission to judge someone else’s child? No, it brings us to empathize with them.
I know that there are several “secrets” my girls have kept from my husband and I in the past. Little do they know, I have found out most of the secrets. Instead of confronting them on these little secrets, I save them in the back of my mind for those “just in case” moments when I need to pull something out of my own bag of tricks. Why let your child know you are angry with them in the heat of your anger? That only promotes more anger. Most teenage girls generally assume that their mothers are always upset with them for something. We are not always angry or upset with our daughters; their perceptions stem from their fragile, hormonal egos.
Don’t Be Afraid to Make Mistakes
My oldest child just set off for the University. She is opening her eyes and world to something so foreign to her and away from our loved and protected Island. I have told her to learn from her errors and mistakes. I said, “Now is the time to really figure out who you are. It is okay to make mistakes.” We all did; we were just never told it was okay. It is okay to figure out who you are. For example, I said, “You may change your major a dozen times. Just make sure that whatever you choose to graduate in is: 1. Employable; 2. Can support your lifestyle.”
Remember Where You Come From
I was always told to stand tall with my head high. And lastly, to remember what my last name was. I was also told, “Never embarrass your mother and father.” I hope that I have instilled these lessons in my daughters. Though my lessons may not indicate the popular choice or the perfect choice, they have been the steadfast choices in our home.
Lisa Katsman, 14 Oct. 2013
Mother of 2 daughters