Life can feel lonely for teenage girls. Have you ever considered writing a message of support to your daughter? Sharing your own teenage experiences through words of encouragement can help you empathise with her and make your conversations more positive. It may also do wonders for her self-esteem.
Words of Encouragement From the Girl I Once Was: A Message of Support for My Daughter
It seems like such a long time since I was a teenager but I saw a picture of myself the other day at the same age you are now and suddenly my heart just melted for you. I looked into my own girl’s eyes and I could see all the confusion, all the uncertainty. So that’s why I’m writing you this message of support. It’s such a time of change and I want to tell you how I got through it, because I think hearing about some of my experiences might help you.
For a while, it felt as though looks were all that mattered but gradually I learned to trust my instincts about what really made me who I was. I learned to play to my academic strengths. I realised that though I’d never be on the netball team, I could still enjoy other activities and take pride in them.
I discovered that what matters most is learning to trust that voice inside that’s authentically me, that makes me the person I am. I didn’t have to be the best at whatever it was I was trying to achieve, but I did have to try my best. Realising the difference between those two things really boosted my self-confidence.
It took me a long time to realise the importance of friendship. You don’t need tons of friends, but you do need at least a few close friends you can trust, and you need to learn to accept them, warts and all, and work out the hard stuff.
When boyfriends (or girlfriends) come along, that’s a new stage again. I remember how weird it felt, this new kind of closeness. I spent a lot of time in my bedroom just thinking about my crushes, and you’ll probably want to do that too. I didn’t want to share these things with my mum and I imagine you’ll feel the same way.
I made a fair few mistakes when I was a girl and no doubt you will too. But here’s something I learned when I was older and I’d like you to know it now. We all make mistakes in life but what’s important is what you do after you realise you’ve made one and how you work through it. It takes courage to face up to your mistakes and move on, but being able to do this can be incredibly empowering. It can give your self-esteem a huge lift, because it helps you realise that, whatever happens, you call the shots in your life and you can turn things around.
Always know that I love you.
What Next: Action Steps to Help Send Encouraging Messages to Your Daughter
- Allow your daughter to tell you what it’s like from her point of view, and really listen to her. Don’t jump in too quickly with advice or anecdotes about your own experiences.
- Don’t rush to judgement; rather, show your daughter that you trust her judgement on what’s going on in her life. “You’ll be doing a huge amount for your daughter’s self-esteem if you can show her that you trust her and respect her opinions,” says Dr Tara Cousineau. Girls can easily misinterpret mums’ offers of advice or support as criticism or judgement. Be open to hearing what’s really going on in her life and try not to jump in with opinions or she won’t be so ready to share her feelings next time. Make sure the conversation is about your daughter and her experiences, not yours.
- There are opportunities to share and learn daily. Discuss a story about girls from the news or community when they appear and ask, “What would you do in this situation?” This helps with constructive problem solving around tough issues girls deal with, including bullying, dating, drinking, etc.
- Look through old photo albums or mementos from when you were young and select a story from your own adolescence that shows how you dealt with a challenge: a time when you felt anxious, perhaps, or uncertain about a friendship. Feelings, desires and fears are universal and have no generational limitations, so tapping into how you felt will give you a sense of the sort of worries your daughter may be experiencing now.
- Try writing your own letter of encouragement to your daughter in which you mention your experiences. You don’t necessarily have to give it to her, just taking the time to think about that time in your life will help you to empathise with your daughter.
To read more articles like this visit the Dove Self Esteem website: http://selfesteem.dove.co.za/