The following is an excerpt from my interview with Elizabeth Spencer on my podcast, You’ve Got This.
When you have teenagers and girls, you get sympathetic glances. I get it. People think teenage girls are drama machines. And while there is a certain amount of drama involved with ninth and tenth grade girls, there’s also a lot of joy. More joy than I thought possible.
This summer, I took my daughters and one of their friends to New York City to see a Korean pop boy band (GOT7, in case you wanted to know), and we had a blast. I mostly trailed along behind them as they took in Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Empire State Building. We even stumbled upon—accidently!—to Korea Way and all those quirky Korean shops.
But when I talk about my daughters with strangers or near strangers, I often hear things like, “Wow,” and “That must be hard.” But it isn’t any harder than two toddler girls or two tween girls. Because every age has its up and downs.
“There’s some underlying truth to the thought that having teenagers is hard, but having any child is hard,” said Elizabeth Spencer, mom of two teen daughters and blogger at Guilty Chocoholic Mama. “Girls come with their own package—we refer to ours as the ‘house of hormones.’ … But I think there’s a lot of fear [out there], and people only hear the negative stories sometimes.”
I’ve been thinking more about my own teenage years, and boy, I sure do sympathize with my mom more now that I have teenagers myself. “We value our moms so much more when we became moms,” agreed Spencer. “I try to remember how it felt to be a teenage girl, as least I have that background and give them the benefit of the doubt.”
When thinking about being a mom to teenage daughters, it’s important to recognize that we have the power to escalate stuff or bring stuff down as moms. As Christian moms, we so want our girls to choose the right thing and to be kind to their sister, so we come down pretty hard on them anytime they make a remark that could be misconstrued or is mean. I know I’ve been trying harder to bite my tongue and let those remarks go in the moment, and only address them later when the heat has faded.
As we watch our teens grow up, we can easily forget that they still need us to be there for them. “I think they need us to be their safe space, to be that steadying point,” Spencer said. “Not that we put up with everything and not that we let them run over us, but I think they need to know we’re on their side and that we’re not going to bail on them or overreact on every little thing. It’s less caring for their physical needs now and more caring for their mental and emotional needs.”
To hear more great advice and stories from Elizabeth, listen to “The Wonderful Wacky World of Teenage Daughters” from “You’ve Got This” podcast.