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We Parent in Phases...Adolescents

"I totally deserve to be happy"

Beautiful People!!!

It has been way too long!! Let's go!!!

On September 8th, my daughter Lulu returned to school (wait for it) A SOPHMORE!!!!! I am still processing that...

Back in June, she and I had a reflective conversation about her first year in high school; the challenges that she was not prepared for, whether it was school culture, the different cliques, or the way she would compare herself to the other girls at the school. "I got to admit mommy, I romanticized what high school would be like." I was surprised that she thought high school was what she believed she saw on either television or social media; but then again, what did she have as a reference? we didn't have a discussion about high school social class; I was more concerned about program, safety, and graduation rates.

Weeks into the school year, I noticed that Lulu was uncharacteristically quiet, questioning her style of dress, and asking me to "bump" up her allowance to shop at online shops that I felt were way overpriced. When I called her out on this shift in behavior and ask, her defensive answers made it clear to me; my daughter was struggling with her self-esteem among a sea of girls at her school who are slimmer, taller, have longer hair and dare I say it, lighter than she is.

No matter the volume of encouragement I pile on her (and for those who know Miss Lulu she is beautiful inside and out) it did not make a dent. I found myself getting frustrated at her shooting down my support and lifting her up. Every time I tried to justify why she should not measure herself against peers who were complete opposites from her, she would become agitated which would then lead to my agitation. It came to the point that I would get fed up and tell her to just transfer to another school because I was getting tired of hearing about "these girls."

I know...bad look...

I was so caught up in my agitation and ineffective messaging that I had not realized how much I was hurting her by not listening. I was doing more harm than good; I pulled back, apologized to her, gave her space, and took a little time to process my approach to her struggle. I sought the guidance of my clinical coach to be my thought partner in how I can best support Lulu and reset my conversation with her.

After my coach went in on me (she loves her some Lulu) we came up with a number of strategies to address the lack of self-confidence/self-esteem.

  1. Our continued responsibility as parents- love unconditionally, and practice patience; parenting an adolescent requires a heightened level of patience, this age group undergoes so many social/emotional changes that require us as parents/caregivers to be flexible and that may mean changing up our parenting style, or morph into NEW parents altogether, gone are our babies, the work to foster and develop our children into healthy adults begins here, now...

  2. Adopt a growth mindset: adolescents are focused on a fixed mindset about who they are, and what they can or cannot do and often feel unsure of themselves. It is important to validate the feelings and validate areas where you've seen growth in your teen. It is also ok to draw from your experience when you were their age as well. when I told Lulu of my struggles at her age she related and the dialogue between us opened up; she saw beyond mom and connected with me.

  3. Validate, validate, validate. Nothing is more discouraging than not validating your child's concern, especially as it relates to confidence. Validate by intentional listening. Tell your child that you hear every word that is being said; having open lines of communication gives your child space to come to you with anything on his/her/their mind.

  4. Lastly, assure that no matter what you got them; celebrate what makes your child unique. Telling your child that you love them is and will always be your superpower...

Never be unafraid to use it...

I have a few more years of this to go......

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