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What Adolescent Girls Wish Their Parents Understood About Them

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This excerpt is from the girls' section of "Will Puberty Last My Whole Life? REAL Answers to REAL Questions from Preteens About Body Changes, Sex, and Other Growing-Up Stuff" by Julie Metzger and Robert Lehmann. Some of the questions most frequently asked by adolescent girls are featured in this chapter, "How Can I Make My Family Seem Like More of an Option to Talk To? …And Other Questions About Your Relationship with Your Parents."

What if you like a boy but you don’t know how to break it to your parents that their baby girl LIKES SOMEONE?

Talking with grown-ups about friendships and relationships can sometimes be challenging for a lot of reasons. They might be surprised by what you have to say, might change their opinions about you or your friend, or might have advice that you weren’t looking for. “Liking” someone means you have feelings for the person that seem different than feelings you have for other friends—that you are interested in that person in a new or bigger way than you used to be. You may worry that your mom might not think you are old enough to like someone, and that she will be concerned or surprised. It can help to start off the conversation with something like, “Some of my feelings are changing about people. I think I like someone in my class and I would like to tell you about it but I am worried what you will say or think.”

It seems like my mom and I are FIGHTING ALL THE TIME. I just think she doesn’t understand. She thinks I don’t understand. It’s, well, it’s majorly weird! What do I do?

Living with your family gives you an important place to learn skills that you’ll use throughout the rest of your life. However, it isn’t always easy for parents and kids to get along. Sometimes there are topics or emotions that are uncomfortable and difficult. Maybe you feel like your mom gives you too much advice or that her ideas


don’t feel realistic. Maybe you think she is critical, or you argue more than anything else. It might be helpful to just talk about talking with your mom. Try to find a time to connect when there isn’t something to argue about. You could start with, “It always seems like we are arguing—it would be nice to talk things over without yelling at each other.” Let her know how you are feeling—most likely she is hoping for some changes as well. If you find you are always fighting, learning how to take a break and come back together when you both calm down can be key. Families who are struggling may need to call upon resources like counselors to help them work on ways to improve their communication.

From Will Puberty Last My Whole Life? REAL Answers to REAL Questions from Preteens About Body Changes, Sex, and Other Growing-Up Stuff

How can I make MY FAMILY seem like more of an option to talk to?

Sometimes it’s challenging to bring up certain topics with your family. That might be because they don’t have any practice talking about those topics, which makes them feel as uncomfortable as you do. Maybe you feel like they don’t “hear” what you are trying to say. Or maybe just finding a time to talk is half the challenge—grown-ups can be distracted by lots of responsibilities, so you need to invite them into the conversation. You might try saying something like, “I would love to talk through something that is going on with my friends. Would you have some time after dinner?” Or, “Would you want to walk the dog together tonight? I have something on my mind.” Sometimes it’s easier to start the conversation by writing them a note.

My family doesn’t like to see me growing up, so I don’t know how they will accept that I am growing up. How can I show them kindly that I’m NOT A BABY anymore?

Sometimes our bodies and our brains change so fast that our parents can’t keep track. And sometimes we feel ready to have new responsibilities, but our parents are less certain. Every family makes adjustments as each person grows up, and part of the process is negotiating decisions within a family. If you feel ready to make your own decision but your family is less certain, have a conversation with them to say what you are thinking and experiencing. Everyone has the courage for even a one-minute conversation—it’s a place to start.

Should my dad know I am going through puberty?

Dads are invested in their daughters’ lives in puberty and beyond! Some dads may not have much experience talking about girls’ body changes since they have only been through their own puberty experience. Using your own words and stories will help your dad understand what puberty is like for a girl. Dads can be amazing advocates—they want the puberty experience to go well for their daughters. Sharing your thoughts and feelings with your dad helps him to discover some of the ways you are growing up.

Why do teens start to HATE their parents?

Becoming a teenager does not mean you will automatically hate your parents. In fact, most teens say that their parents are the most important people in their lives. As we get older, we begin to develop our own ideas and opinions, and sometimes those ideas are different from our parents’ ideas, which creates conflict. As we work through our conflicts with our families, it’s important to take a break from the conversation when it gets too heated, coming back to it when we can be calmer. It’s also important to look for things that we can agree on and to make compromises when we can’t agree. Living with your family helps you to learn about how to get along with others, how to love others, how to be challenged, and how to grow.

Why do I think that sometimes MY FAMILY is driving me crazy?

Have you ever noticed that your family members can be your biggest cheerleaders and at the same time they are the people that bug you the most? That’s because families are where some of our most important growing up takes place. We learn about ourselves while living with our families because we practice how to be in relationships, get along, have major arguments, and share space, responsibilities, and time. Everyone in the family is learning how to live together and navigate through life . . . it’s not easy.


In every healthy family some of the decisions are made by the grown-ups, some by the kids, while other decisions are shared. When you are little, most of the decisions are made by the grown-ups; then, as you get older, more and more of the decisions are shared; and finally, with practice, more and more of the decisions become your own. Sometimes as we are growing up we believe that we are ready to make our own decisions before the grown-ups do. This can be frustrating and annoying for everyone because everyone sees the world differently. It can help to talk about how your family determines when someone is old enough to take part in making their own decisions.

Julie Metzger is a registered nurse with a master’s degree in pediatric nursing. She has worked extensively in the field of parent education on adolescent development, sexuality, parenting, and communication between parent and child.
Dr. Robert Lehman is an adolescent health specialist. He has devoted his career to providing direct health care services to youth, teaching health care professionals about the special needs of adolescents, and addressing teen health issues and policies on local, regional, and national levels.
Together they created and teach the Great Conversations classes for parents and their preteens.

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