Manners Matter: Navigating Teenagers

Dear Mary Pat,

My daughter and I are constantly battling. It doesn’t matter what the topic is – homework, her friends, her curfew, her bedtime – it’s always a fight. She’s 12 and thinks she knows everything and I’m always the bad guy. My husband seems to not be as much of a target as I am. He says something to her and she laughs. I could say the exact same thing and I get nothing more than a snarl. I don’t know what has happened to my sweet, happy little girl.


My Last Nerve

Sister Bay, Wis.

Dear My Last Nerve,

This is just a part of growing up for your daughter. Puberty is a word that can strike fear into the hearts of parents, but it doesn’t need to be so scary. So much emphasis is put on the outward physical changes during this stage, (you’ve gotten so tall, you’ve grown into a young woman, etc.) but a lot of people forget about all the emotional upheaval that this stage of life brings. Hormones can be a minefield and the term “overly sensitive” may apply just a little too often.  

Just like any other difficult situation, patience and love are the tools for combat as well as knowing which battles to pick and when to pick them.  Find a time when emotions aren’t running so high and talk about some of the changes happening with your daughter. One of the biggest physical changes in your daughter is the one that is taking place within her brain. If you are direct, calm and matter of fact, that will help get through to her. Try not to let yourself react to eye rolling, sighing or even yelling for that matter. Use your compassion without losing your ground. You are still her parent and are in charge of the boundaries. It’s also time to plug into your mommy network. Ask some of your girlfriends who have already navigated this with their daughters. They will have advice or, at the very least, allow you to vent a little bit.

Good luck,

Mary Pat