I Don't Need Parenting Books. I Have Friends.
This family boasts three daughters. Three smart, funny, sweet, strong, wonderful girls.
We are in for a world of hormonal hurt that I'm estimating will last for the next 12-14 years. In the past few weeks, I've had my first glimpses into what that is going to be like. In other words, I have seen the face of a girl teenager and it has struck fear into my heart.
So I turned to some friends who have daughters older than mine, and I described the situation thusly: “I've seen her get more upset and indignant in the last week than I've ever seen in her entire life. If you stacked all her tantrums from ages 0-10 in one pile, combined they wouldn't be as forceful as some of her reactions to things this week. I'm experiencing cognitive dissonance: she is being difficult.”
And their responses were golden, so I thought I'd share them here for any of you with pre-hormonal daughters, so you might benefit from their words of wisdom.
Friend the 1st had this to say, after consulting with her own daughter:
"Advice from the daughter perspective: She said, "Don't tell her to chill out because she doesn't know that she's not chilled out." So, pointing out that she's being hormonal is not helpful, according to my daughter, but she couldn't say what would be helpful. She says, "Yeah, I guess" to whether it helps when I tell her that I think she needs to go be alone or go exercise. As a future nurse I prescribe plenty of wine to the mom. You have to be the steady one in the middle of her hormonal storm. If you need fellow moms to help you drink the wine and commiserate, I am here for you :-)”
Friend the 2nd provided a numbered list full of helpful gems. If, after reading this list, you want her address to send her a thank you bottle of wine, I will provide it:
Welcome to the club! ;-)
We did this first with our first daughter (still in it), which made it easier to recognize when our second daughter began exhibiting the same symptoms and behaviors.
I concur with [Friend the 1st's daughter]. Telling them to "chill" only makes them more pissed off. Does me too (BTW).
Here are a few things that has helped us weather the storms (as erratic as they are).
1. Limit, or reduce sugar intake. It exacerbates the intensity levels. They fight this, but with our girls once explained that it is making them crazy they are more willing to acquiesce (the hormone fits are no picnic for them either.)
2. Exercise helps. Get the heart pumping, legs moving and the focus changes.
3. Loud happy (up-beat with positive message) music can get them out of a particularly angry or sad funk. Dancing crazy as a family in the living rooms while listening has done the trick in the past as well.
4. One on one time with Mom (or Dad) but with Mom it may open up space to share how you went through/go through the same experiences and how you have learned to manage.
5. This talk time can also give you the opportunity to validate that it totally sucks! that its normal, and over time the hormones will even out and become more cyclical—allowing them to manage them more easily. Holding and being quiet also seems to work at times— (sometime even better if they are so sick of hearing the sound of your voice but still need you.)
6. Avoid the power struggle. Just like all the other kids. Say it, stick to it, and then disengage from the debate. Easier said than done, but is effective.
7. Protect them from the other less sympathetic siblings.;-) Or rather, protect the other siblings from her. In other words, give her a little more space.
8. And when you are a hormonal mess too.....well.... grab the potato chips, dark chocolate, Valium (if you have a source;-), bottle of wine and head for the door ;-).
That is pretty much all I have gleaned from my journey of doing it wrong enough times to figure out what worked. Of course, every girl/women is different so....Hope its helpful. If I think of anything else, I will let you know.
I have awesome friends. My daughters should thank them. Yours too.
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