The conversations I have with my eleven-year-old daughters these days are a lot different than the ones we had just a year or two ago. There is more nuance, weightiness, and drama brewing underneath topics like friendship and personal hygiene that once felt pretty straightforward. Even as my tween girls grow in independence, it’s clear that in many ways they need me more than ever. Your girls need you too. Here are a few conversations you need to have (and keep having over and over again) with your tween girl.
1. The “Let me tell you what puberty is” Conversation
Puberty is a word that encompasses a great many symptoms. Each girl will experience them at varying times and to varying degrees. Some girls may associate puberty with getting their first period, but they never considered breast development, growing hair in new places, or powerful mood swings that cause confusion and angst. This is where moms can provide comfort, support, and information to help our daughters better understand what they are experiencing or prepare them for what’s to come. Share your own stories of adolescent change and provide a safe place for her to share her questions and insecurities.
2. The “Who are my most important influences?” Conversation
Young girls turning into young women are entering the phase of questioning who they are and how they fit in. Help them build a strong foundation of identity by keeping your connection strong. Friends become a powerful influencer in the tween years, but that doesn’t mean our impact as parents need to take a backseat. Be your daughter’s ally as she tries out different friendships and peer groups. Help her determine if she has a positive impact on her social circle or if she may be overly influenced by powerful but not so benevolent peers. These are the years where peer pressure becomes a force. Bullying, cliques, and posturing become commonplace. Help your daughter stay rooted to the influences that have her best interests at heart by talking openly and often about who she chooses to spend her time with.
3. The “Technology is a tool, not a taskmaster” Conversation
Our girls need to know that technology is a powerful tool for communication and education, but it can easily become a stumbling block to healthy relationships and cognitive maturity. Teach your daughter about online etiquette, the power of manipulative marketing, the temptation toward criticism and anonymity in online platforms, and social media’s ability to threaten self-worth and contentment. Explain to your girls that social media does not reflect real life, even if they are connected to people they know in person. Protect your girls by establishing technology restrictions and helping them think critically about how they spend their time and use these powerful tools at their fingertips.
4. The “Why am I like this?” Conversation
It can take a long time for a young girl to realize that she thinks about herself far more than anybody else thinks about her. We girls obsess over our bodies, compare ourselves and our talents to those around us, and for what? Our daughters need to understand that to spend their time pining to be something they’re not or look like someone they don’t is an exercise in futility. The truth is, God made each one of us as He intended. He knit us together with purpose and precision. The sooner we recognize the blessing of that, the more able we’ll be to walk with confidence and peace. Your daughter is a masterpiece; be sure to remind her of that over and over during the tumultuous years ahead.
Tell us! What are some influential conversations you had–or wished you’d had–with your parents growing up?