I was inspired to write this post after a conversation I had with the parent of one of my female students a few weeks ago. It’s a conversation I wish I could have with every parent, of every girl, I’ve ever taught. To be honest, I wish I could have this talk with my “tween-ager” self. Perhaps it would have helped my mom and I during our rough my teenage years.
Dear Parents of Middle School Girls,
I know it may seem scary – but you’re living with a young woman. I’m sure that in your eyes, she’s still your little girl but I would argue that denial of her maturing age will not help her future, like embracing it will. Many parents seem to shy away from the conversation when I mention their daughter’s current crush and how its impacting her performance in class at parent teacher conferences.
All too often the parents of my female students write these moments off as “just a crush.” And don’t get me wrong I get it. It’s easy for us as adults to brush aside these moments because compared to our adult relationships, they seem so cute, short lived and insignificant. That may all be true, but please hear me – to your daughter this moment is significant. To her this feeling is love. She doesn’t know any better, she’s only 14 (or 12, or 17).
Embrace these moments as precious gifts, instead of dreaded conversations. Reassure her that she’s normal, and that her feelings matter. Show her that you’ll listen, not judge. Teach her to reflect on how she feels after spending time with this person. Share stories with her about your great teenage loves and the lessons they taught you. Council her on how those lessons taught you what to look for in a future spouse. (And don’t you dare dwell on the fact that real love doesn’t exist – there’s nothing worse than killing a young spirit with negative adult bashing. Instead teach your daughter to make choices that are different than your own. It kills me a little inside when middle school girls tell me love does not exist.) And then it’s time to sit back and breathe.
You’re raising a strong and confident young woman. A woman prepared to make positive relationship choices for her future. A young woman that will know she has value. And above all else, a young woman who knows her parents love her and will continue to, even as she travels through the bumps and bruises of young love.
(A Middle School Teacher)
I’d love to hear your thoughts. Are you the parent of a young woman? Are you a teacher like me? How would you life have been impacted if you had honest conversations with your parents from a young age? Please leave your ideas in the comments below!
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