Teen girls are one of the great mysteries of life. I know because I was one of them not that long ago. (Okay, it was like twenty years ago, but does it count that I still sometimes feel like I’m 18?)
Not only do their parents, teachers and youth workers not understand them, they often don’t even understand themselves. So many things are changing all at once including the way they see themselves, their peers, the opposite sex, their parents and the world around them. Trying to connect with your teen daughter can sometimes feel daunting and totally overwhelming.
Here are some tips for how to create a deeper connection with the teen girl in your life:
- Find out her Enneagram number. If you haven’t already heard of the Enneagram, first of all, are you living under a rock? No, but really, I still love you even if you are a little out of the loop. Being in the loop is over rated. But the Enneagram is a test you can take not understand both your number and the way you relate to other people based on their Enneagram numbers. Take the test with your teen girl and then do a bit of reading on how you relate to one another. This test will give you a great place to start when it comes to building connection with your teen girl.
- Ask about her love language. I’m guessing you already know about the love languages, but again, if you don’t you need to. This is an amazing tool to use in any close relationship you are apart of. Find out how your girl gives and receives love. This way you can understand what’s important to her to feel seen, heard and understood and as a bonus you will gain insight into how she is reaching out to love you too. Maybe you love giving gifts but she really need words of affirmation. And perhaps the way she tries to show you her love is with those words that don’t mean as much to you. Overall, understanding the love languages and then learning to speak hers will be super helpful.
- Don’t try so hard. I know it’s really difficult to give your kids space, but I can assure you that when you push too hard, it will be met with resistance. This doesn’t mean you give up and don’t try, it just means you take a step back, and stay open. Instead of asking ten questions about how her day was and not letting her leave the room until she answers, ask one and don’t push if she’s not interested in a heart to heart. Tell her that you’re here for her and if she wants to chat later you’ll still be here. As a teen girl I was often more drawn to deep connection with my dad than my mom because of this very thing. My mom sometimes tried too hard (love you mom!), but my dad waited for me to come to him and I always knew he was there for me, even if he wasn’t always pursuing that connection.
- Be secure in yourself. This goes along with number three in that the more content you are with yourself, the less you will try to find affirmation from the teen you are raising/working with. We often base our whole identity on how people respond to us, but the dark side of this is that when we get a negative response, we take it personally. When they don’t want to be with us, we can feel insecure. And when they make decisions that are completely against everything we’ve taught them, we feel like we’ve failed them. But the more you can find your identity in who God says you are, and allow Him to meet your need for belonging and acceptance, the better parent, friend and support you can be to your teen girl. You can’t lead her where you haven’t already been, so do the hard work of understanding yourself as a child of God and you can teach her to do the same.
- Give love instead of judgement. The more you can communicate love and acceptance instead of shame or judgement, the more influence you will have in your girls life. Likely when she messes up, she already knows it. Having you heap the shame on will only push her further away. Keep your love on towards her, especially when things are hard and you will become the safe place she turns to in good times and the bad.
Teen girls need the influence of their parents, youth works and teachers more than ever. With all the pressure they are facing from their peers and the world, especially through social media, anxiety and depression are becoming more and more prevalent. If you can build a strong connection with the teen girls in your life using these tips, your voice will continue to have an impact on her life and decisions all throughout her teen years. Whether your connecting is already solid, or desperately needing repair, I pray these tips will help you build new bridges and form deeper connections between you and your girl.
Cheering for you always!