Girl: 10 year old girl asked, “How often does this happen?” meaning her period, “once a year?” She had already learned about “body changes” in school; she and her mother were attending a Growing up Female I workshop.
Lesson: Girls don’t take in all of the information the first time around – and often not even the second time around. Girls need multiple learning opportunities and LOTS of support. The good news: Trusted adult women make a difference in the lives of girls. With proper support and guidance, moms and other adult women can help girls learn and they can help girls grow up with a positive self image and a positive body image. Unfortunately a poor self image is common in girls and women and is a root cause of many serious problems down the road. Don’t go there. Create positive relationships and build up her sense of self NOW.
Parent: “Parenting a teen is like a giant chess game – we’re constantly trying to figure out her next move so we can block it in advance – our daughter is very challenging.”
Lesson: Parenting teens can be quite difficult. They are stretching their wings, searching for independence, and making mistakes along the way. The best parenting for this age involves setting up clear communication, strong yet flexible boundaries (more on that seemingly contradictory phrase later), positive and uplifting base relationships, and opportunities for independence to grow.
For those of us who have a strong willed child the job is more difficult – they stretch their parents beyond comfort zones and require a constant return to the basics – love, support, and encouragement. Just make it a mantra, “love, support, encourage…”