Updated: Jun 2, 2021
Being with your teen 24/7 is hard. Really hard.
And this is currently life. While we’re fortunate enough not to be alone, we are in each other’s pockets all day long. This can be challenging, especially when girls are missing friends and most likely wishing they were with humans other than their family right now. In my work with both Moms and teen girls, this is nothing less than stressful. Everyone is not getting the same amount of contact as they’d like. Parents often want more and girls often want less. After putting all of this together, here are my suggestions for balancing out this too little/too much to get it just right.
Create screen free times. I know, I know. You are thinking you will get push back for this one. But hear me out. I am a strong believer that if we approach our kids with respect for their time and their desires and we model the same behavior we’re asking for, they are likely to comply. Share your ideas about good times to be screen free: meals or family game/movie night might be a natural time to leave the phone in another room and ask for their input. Then once the family decides, (and make sure you model it as well!) so that you can true connection during the minutes that you actually are face to face.
Agree to play the video game and make the Tic Toc. I have seen sooooo many fun Tic Toc’s of parents dancing with their teens. The best ones are the ones where the parents really join in, talented or not and have fun with their girls. My recommendation is if she asks you, jump at the chance to connect to her world!
Be flexible when asking your daughter to join the family at a time that works for her. One of the biggest complaints from girls is that their parents are “making” them spend time with them at inconvenient times. Consider her schedule when trying to make plans, rather than telling her you are watching shows together at night, ask her what time works for her. Many teens are connecting with friends in the evening, so if she is always forced to spend time with you at this time, resentment may be building. Be open to her requests to change up the routine or have time to herself, this encourages her to come to you in the future because she knows you are open to her thoughts.
There is extra stress on everyone right now, you can model managing stress and in turn put less on her by managing your own. This also keeps her close and connecting with you because there is less strain on your relationship. Then she won’t feel like a walking target for your stress or anger. Ask for help when you need it, assigning responsibility for different chores and tasks in the house and picking and choosing when others behaviors are really a problem. For example, maybe your girl is getting the dog riled up or wrestling around with her siblings – buuuutt she’s out of her room AND connecting. Consider whether it’s something you can overlook or not before stepping in to stop the fun.
It’s natural for teens to stay up late, sleep in and spend time in their bedrooms. Teens need around nine hours of sleep each night and I bet she wasn’t getting this when she was waking up for school at 6am. Consider focusing on the sleep routine vs. her bedtime and what time she’s waking up. It’s natural for teens to stay up later and sleep in, as long as it is regular routine and doesn’t affect school – consider letting it go. While you want to spend time together, allow your girl space so that has time to journal, process her feelings, dream, plan her future and take on challenges on her own. Hopefully she is occasionally working on school work, trying something new, being creative and connecting with friends with her time alone. Drop the guilt trips about her being in her room all the time and take advantage of the time when she emerges by making positive connections.
Last but certainly not least, get yourself and your daughter support if you need it. It’s important for everyone to pay careful attention to our mental health. Life looks very different right now, while we hopefully have everything we need, we don’t have everything we want. And this leads to overlapping feelings of sadness, disappointment, overwhelm, confusion and loneliness. It’s important for girls to have a place to work through their feelings if they need it. Send your daughter the message that all she has to do is ask if she wants to talk to someone. It really does help <3