3 Steps to Connect with Your Teenage Daughter - Birmingham Bloomfield Hills Moms

Parents hear and talk a lot about the pitfalls of raising teenagers—particularly teenage girls. And while that awareness is crucial, parents can be left wondering “What now?”

Enter the groundbreaking new book by Chelsey Goodan, UNDERESTIMATED: The Wisdom and Power of Teenage Girls. Want to improve your relationship with your daughter? Read this book, ASAP.

The book is a guide to a stronger relationship with our daughters at home and helping make them more confident and thoughtful out in the world. The tools Chelsea offers draw on her decades of work with teenage girls, both as a sought-after tutor and mentor. We asked Chelsea about what empowerment really looks like in teenage girls and the exact steps we can take to truly connect with them:


What’s the biggest reason we underestimate teenage girls?
We are falling into stereotypes that dismiss and minimize teenage girls as “emotional,” “dramatic,” “mean,” and “hormonal.” That fear and judgment unfortunately silences them, and we’re missing out on a teenage girl’s really smart, caring, responsible, and insightful solutions to not only her own problems, but the world’s problems. We are underestimating how much girls’ powerful voices can be a positive force for progress.

What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learned about teenage girls in the breadth of your interactions with them?
I’m continually surprised by how much we are disempowering a teenage girl from exploring and connecting to what pleases her. There is so much pressure on her to be “perfect” and “likeable,” which puts the focus on external validation. When teenage girls say “sorry” all the time, or “it’s fine,” they are trying to tell the world not to worry about them, because they’ve learned that they need to appear “pleasing.” She’s being taught to put other people’s needs before her own.

This self-validation is absolutely critical! In fact, as moms, many of us are trying to break this habit themselves.  Given that we were once teens ourselves, why do we get so tripped up in talking to them?
I’ve found that so many of our insecurities formed when we were teenagers ourselves, and this creates triggers into adulthood that are very easily activated by a teenage child. My book addresses so many of these wounds (like shame, self-doubt, people-pleasing) where we can focus our own healing. By deactivating these triggers, I find it’s so much easier to approach a teen without judgment or our own secret agenda, and instead, lovingly meet them exactly where they’re at.

Our children certainly spur self-reflection! Sometimes, it can even feel “too late” to start fresh with a teenager. What encouragement can you offer about the possibility to mend or rekindle strained relationships with our teens?
Making amends is a great way to create repair with a teenager, and teenage girls have told me over and over that an apology from a parent, where her voice and needs are heard, would help her feel safer to connect more honestly. I also think it’s important for a parent to ask the teenager for a restart. Let them know that you’re going to be trying a new approach (such as listening to rather than evaluating their thoughts), so they’re not suspicious of any new behavior. They will respect a parent who is taking responsibility in a vulnerable way, which also helps create emotional safety.

If you’re looking for that fresh start with your teenager or want to set a new tone, Chelsea offers three actionable and effective steps that you can implement today.

3 Strategies for Connecting with Your Teenage Daughter

  1. Listen, don’t judge.

Listen to her speak first, and don’t jump in to fix, critique, or advise. This will help her feel heard and respected.

  1. Phrase follow-up as a question.  

This gives her the feeling that you care to understand where she’s coming from and that you trust her ability to make smart choices. Ask questions with a tone of genuine curiosity and no secret agenda.

Some good examples of this are:

“What are your thoughts on that?”

“What do you think the solution is?”

“How do you feel about that?”

  1. Affirm what you hear.

Tell her that you think her ideas are smart.

Saying things like:

“I really respect your thoughts on this.”

“I hadn’t thought of it like that.”

“It makes sense you feel that way.”

When she feels like you understand and trust her, then she will continue to feel emotionally safe to open up and connect with you.

You can learn more about Chelsey Goodan on her website, or follow her on Instagram @chelseygoodan

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