Expert Advice: Mel Williams
My teenager has started sneaking out at night for parties and always lying to me. I want her to see me as her friend, but whenever I try to have this conversation with her, she says I am lame and leaves.
Mother’s perspective: Just like every other teenager, mine is also rebellious and thinks she knows the best. I wasn’t much bothered by her tantrums and random fits of rage, thinking that it was just the hormones, but recently I found out she sneaks out of the home to party.
Last week, at around 4 in the morning, I went to the washroom when I heard some noise in my teen daughter’s room. I went in to check and saw her trying to sneak in through her bedroom window in a party dress with all her make-up smudged. That image makes me sleepless nights, making me worry about her safety. I tried talking to her, but she walked away every time, calling me lame. I am worried that taking a strict approach or grounding her might worsen matters. What should I do?
Daughter’s perspective: I am not doing anything different than other teenagers. All my classmates went to the party and had fun. However, my mother is unnecessarily worried. Her trying to talk to me like a friend weirds me out and makes me uncomfortable. She needs to understand that I can look after myself. I am grown up now.
Expert’s advice for the mother: Don’t try to be cool or act like friends with your child because you are a parent and need to set some boundaries for your household. Since she is a teenager now, she should understand the value of boundaries.
Also, as a parent, you need to see that your child’s rules are not too overbearing. If your rules are too strict, your child might challenge or try to break them; then you need to change them. But if the rules are reasonable and important to ensure your child’s safety, sit down with your teen and talk to her. Tell her that you know that she is growing up, but the rules are placed to keep you safe because I love you. Stand your ground because you know the rules are fair and not preventing your child from enjoying their life.
Let your child know that you are there whenever they need you. And let your daughter come to you, don’t always go to her asking about her personal life. Give her space and time to grow. If they make a mistake and come to you looking for a solution, don’t make them feel dumb or stupid. Instead, be understanding and help them learn from their mistakes.
Expert’s advice for the daughter: Talk to your mother and be open in the conversation. Let your mother be your support system. No matter how many friends you have, your mother is the one who raised you and took care of you. Don’t be so harsh on your mom, and don’t push her away. Just let her know how she can give you space and politely ask her not to micromanage you.