Question:I have a soon to be 16-year-old daughter who loves to spend time with her friends. I know the gang she hangs out with and don't have any problems with them. However, her father keeps count of all her activities and says she is too social. This is becoming a stumbling block between my daughter and her relationship with him. I want to be supportive as a wife, but as her mother I think he is being ridiculous. Do you have any suggestions for me. My daughter has given me no reason to not trust her, she is a good student and excellent athlete.
One of the biggest challenges in parenting our teenagers is making a successful transition from "parent as authority" to "parent as consultant" in their lives. The first requires us to know what's best and then consistently require it; the latter requires conversation, negotiation, and, sometimes, compromise, so that our teenagers learn self-management.
In that transition, a united front with your husband is crucial. Privately and gently, share your concerns with your husband. Seek to understand the "why" behind his concerns. While you may not agree with the "how," you might be surprised to find you agree with the "why." I suggest that the two of you update your parenting approach for teenagers through reading some books on parenting adolescents. So many of us devoured parenting books when our kids were young, but have forgotten to update as they've aged! Actually, HomeWord's set of tip sheets are great resources, as well. Several that I thought might be helpful in this situation are "How to Raise a Teenager Without Losing Your Sanity," "4 Tips for Understanding the Hurts of Adolescence," "8 Ways to Create Space for Each of Your Children" and "7 Cries of Today's Teens." All of these tip sheets can be located on our website by clicking on the "Articles & Media" link on our homepage.
The next important factor is fostering regular conversation with both of you and your daughter. This is the perfect time to discuss "life balance" and "trust" and "natural consequences" -- all before there's a specific failure to address. Your daughter's thoughts are priceless and invaluable to you right now, as you look for ways to know her better and to assist her in attaining maturity.
God bless you on this journey!