Throughout my life if something major has happened I’ve picked up a book to see if I can glean some words of wisdom. In my youth it was Astrology and White Magic, self-help books in those mid twenties turmoil years and pregnancy/baby books when I was having my little ones. Now its parenting. I thought the early years were going to be the most difficult but I remember the parents of older children telling me to ‘make the most of them while they’re little’,’ sleepless nights are nothing compared with the teenage years’. Never have truer words been said.
So far we’ve had friendship, gender, boyfriend, depression, food, self hate and self harm issues to name a few. Nothing too serious, although at the time it certainly felt like it, and not always directly about them. I hate to use the word ‘phase’ as I know that isn’t how it feels at the times, but we have been lucky that each of the problems has finally worked itself through.
Its really tough being a female growing up now, much harder it seems than when I was a teen. You’d think it would be easier considering how far we have developed as a society. Yes we have more options and possibilities in our lives, no longer is our future a choice of motherhood, cooking and cleaning or a secretarial job, but the pressure of media, social media, the economy and job prospects makes being a teenage girl tough.
Each time something has cropped up I have instantly reached for a book to see what the world has to say.
My current read is From Daughter to Women by Kim McCabe
Its a really interesting read and feels like it deals with all the current issues teenage and tween girls are up against right now, particularly confidence and self esteem issues. One recommendation in the book to help strengthen the bond and encourage communication is it to have Mother and Daughter Dates. You set a time aside on a routine basis, weekly, bi-weekly or monthly, and you commit to having a date, whatever that may be for you and your family.
Preferably the daughter should have some control over what you do, and even if you are not talking because of a recent argument or disagreement, you HAVE to go on the date anyway. It can be something as simple as going shopping, making a meal together or walking the dog or it can more elaborate like a day out go karting or a concert, it all depends on your budget and your daughters interests. The purpose is to let your daughter know that she is important to you and therefore worthy of your time, this will make her feel valued and can help with bonding and self esteem issues. It also gives you the time and space to talk and spend time one on one. It can give you an insight into what your daughter is interested in at the moment, the music she likes or the films she watches, it might not necessarily be to your taste , but you’ll learn more about who your daughter is becoming. On first reading I got a little defensive thinking that it sounded a bit daft, surely we already do this, but when I tried to pinpoint the last time I had spent time on my own with either daughter, and done something that wasn’t homework or driving them to or from an activity, I realised that it was in fact a very, very rare occasion.
So we have made a deal and we are bringing dad into it too. Each month we are going to have a date and we will spend a day, or possibly a day and a night doing something lovely. So far Tallulah has said that she would like to go to Cambridge for the day to look around, have a shop and have lunch, and Missie has said that she would like to go to Whitstable and stay in a Fishermans Cottage on the beach. As I am spending time with one daughter, Jason will be spending time with the other on a dad and daughter date.
Phones and computer will be at a minimum, if not banned altogether. This will show them that we are willing to put time aside for them, that they are special, and to give them time to open up. Its harder than I thought as our lives are so busy, but thats even more reason that we need to set the time aside.
Myself and Jason really like spending time together as a family of four and presumed the girls felt the same, but when we floated the idea to them, they both lit up at the idea of spending time on their own with each of us.
I’ve not got to the end of the book yet and if there are any other pearls of wisdom I’ll be sure to share them. In the meantime look out for the blog posts about our dates.
Let me know if you’ve tried this, whether it worked or not or whether you think its a load of old rubbish, I’d love to hear from you.
Love Angela x