Staying In Touch with a Teenage Daughter


My baby is 16 years old. Wow. A couple of weeks ago, she asked me to take her to the mall so she could blow through the gift certificates and cash she received for her birthday.

My darling girl loves the mall.

I hate it.

But we had a pleasant afternoon, spending her money on new clothes, and my money on cheap ear rings we plan to share.

Of course her fingers never stopped flying across the tiny cell phone dial pad. While we finished up a late lunch in the food court, she asked if I would drop her off at her boyfriend's house on the way home.

"Oh, you've spent all your money and now you're done with me, huh?" I teased. "I see how it is. Why didn't you just have him give you a ride to the mall?"

"I thought it would be nice for us to spend some time together," she said.

I know what you are all thinking...master manipulators, those teenage girls. But I believe she was sincere.

Since she started "dating" her beau about 10 months ago, I've had the usual concerns. They spend all of their time together, either at my house or his parents'. I've been concerned she's neglecting her girl friends, her school work, her chores. Extra-curricular activities are practically non-existent.

I've always been proud of my relationship with my daughter. She's a good girl. She doesn't lie to me. She doesn't get in trouble--at least not to compare with what I did at her age! She's beautiful, sensitive, witty, confident. I knew I was a good mommy when she was little, but as she grows, I worry myself constantly about the things I've failed to teach her.

In some ways it feels like 16 is too late to bother. She is who she is, and I doubt I can really influence her much more. My concerns now are almost completely about the give and take of freedom, letting her make her own mistakes, knowing when to set firm boundaries and when to extend trust.

Last night when her boyfriend dropped her off (on time--she's never missed a curfew, thanks to his NC restricted drivers license!), she was full of energy and wanted to chat. Chatter. I was busy online, trying to once again jump-start my writing career while she filled me in on the details of her weekend.

"You talk to everyone else more than you talk to me!" she finally complained.

I closed my computer and gave her my undivided attention, amazed that she wanted it.

I think the secret of parenting a teen finally sank in. I just have to stay in touch. It is basically the same advice a colleague gave to me when she was just starting kindergarten. She said, "They start having their own life, and if you let them get away, it's hard to get them back."

I'm so glad I remembered this lesson before she got away. I am planning more trips to the mall. And I'm recognizing that the little things, like watching certain television shows with her, are what keep us connected.

With all the bad news out there about teen girls, I wish I had more specific advice to offer on how to raise a good one. I'm not sure what the "secret" ever was. I just loved her to the best of my ability. And that's never been hard. I have decided to ask some "experts" for opinions. I plan to survey my friends and colleagues who also have "good girls" and write about it later. It's about time teen girls had some good press!

Copyright Dineane Whitaker 2008 - Please do not copy and paste this article, but feel free to post a link using this url:

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Comments 22 comments

futonfraggle profile image

futonfraggle 8 years ago

Thanks for sharing this Dineane. My husband has two teenage daughters and they always enjoy a good gab-fest. If I've learned anything as a stepparent, it's to be there when they want to talk. Lend an ear, show interest in what they're doing, find something to do together (and try not to cringe when they're texting friends in the middle of a movie theater LOL). You're absolutely right--if you're not there to listen--that's when you "lose" them. Teen girls do need more positive press. Great hub!

DonnaCSmith profile image

DonnaCSmith 8 years ago from Central North Carolina

Yep, I can vouch she IS a good, girl. How do I know? I am her grandmother.

mhorris46 8 years ago

I raised 2 beautiful girls. They are now loving, sensitive, successful adults with families of their own. But I will not say raising them was easy. I made lots and lots of mistakes but, in my own defense, I was a single mother with no financial resources other than my own salary. I did not have the freedom to give them the amount of time they deserved, but I attempted to give them quality time. It was not enough. My daughters were problem teenagers.

BUT, as they matured, I discovered that they DID learn the values I had tried to instill in them, and I'm convinced those lessons were learned during their teen years, as well as during their "development" years since some concepts would have been difficult for younger children to grasp.

I can't say how I was successful with my girls, and I had serious doubts that anything would ever sink in - but I was successful and those lessons did sink in.

chantelg4 profile image

chantelg4 8 years ago from Northern Ontario

I think this time is critical in a young girl's life. They want independence, but still rely more than ever on mom to just hang out and talk. I find my daughter to be much more open now that she is almost 14 and starting highschool. Very nice article.

In The Doghouse profile image

In The Doghouse 8 years ago from California

My baby will turn twenty this year, thus I think I have finally made it past my "teen" years. I think that I too have learned that communication is the key to a solid relationship. I am thankful that I have a beautiful, smart, confident, respectful, loving daughter that wants to spend time with me. What a blessing she is in my life. Bad teens get toooooo much press time... good ones need more! Thanks for the Hub and welcome to Hubpages.

Boss Number 1 profile image

Boss Number 1 8 years ago from Stayton, OR

My mom and I stopped getting along when I was about 11. It got progressively worse after that. it wasn't that we didn't love each other, it wasn't that she wasn't an amazing mother (she was an AMAZING mother), it was just that we didn't know how to relate to one another. And when I pulled away, the thing I wanted most was for her to reach out to me and to SHOW me that she wanted to spend time with me. I may have rejected it, but I desperately wanted to know she wanted to be there for me. It can't be easy for moms of teenage daughters...I wouldn't know yet. But I will say this, if you have a good daughter, but a difficult one, one that seems 'prickley' as my mom used to say to me, don't just let her her harder!

moonlake profile image

moonlake 8 years ago from America

Cute story about your daughter. She sounds like a very nice girl. All teens like to talk even our boys did. Both of our boys and our daughter would come home on nights they had been out and sit on the foot of our bed chatting away. Many times I just wanted to go to sleep but I knew they needed to talk. Their friends would sometimes come to our house to stay the night and they would join in with the chat.

Their grown now and have families of their own. They don't chat as much now. Their to busy with their own teenagers.

HubSub Urban Mom profile image

HubSub Urban Mom 8 years ago from San Francisco Bay Area

Great insight and advice. My oldest girl is now going for her Masters, but she went through some serious teen years! I have another one coming up the pike. I agree, don't let them get away. Let them gab -- it's amazing what parents find out about their daughters when they talk and we listen! I mean, really listen.  Great article.

dineane profile image

dineane 8 years ago from North Carolina Author

Thanks to you all for the comments! This was my first Hub, and I'm just cathing on that I need to respond to comments as well as approve them :-) I love the way we can keep a running conversation on our topics with HubPages!

LondonGirl profile image

LondonGirl 7 years ago from London

She's 16 - of course she'd lied to you. Every single 16 year old in Creation has lied to her mother, it's Natural Law. Not necessarily about anything serious, though!

dineane profile image

dineane 7 years ago from North Carolina Author

LOL, LondonGirl, of course you are right, but I'm confident my darling hasn't lied...much...until recently, when I caught her in a biggie. The good thing about that lie is that I clued in and realized I *can* actually tell when she's lieing! Still, she's a much better behaved teen than I was :-)

Shalini Kagal profile image

Shalini Kagal 7 years ago from India

Sounds familiar - mine's almost seventeen. Amazing that they still want us to listen - just pulls you up and makes you realise that they are still kids - part of them, anyways :)

dineane profile image

dineane 7 years ago from North Carolina Author

I have no idea why this hub - my first hub - all of a sudden had double red arrows in my account stats! But it made me visit and read again, and enjoy all of the lovely comments again, and I might as well comment to (and give my hub a little bump for my friends here at hp :-)

This year is a bit more difficult than last year...maybe time for a hub about a 17 yo instead of a 16 yo. But she is still a wonderful daughter - I'm very proud of her!

mythbuster profile image

mythbuster 7 years ago from Utopia, Oz, You Decide

Touching hub. Don't worry about the things you think you failed to teach her. There's still time. She may ask yet, too...

dineane profile image

dineane 7 years ago from North Carolina Author

Thanks, mythbuster. funny enough, I just got home from shopping with her this afternoon - the first time we've done that in a while! - and found your comment.

Catherine R profile image

Catherine R 7 years ago from Melbourne, Australia

I enjoyed your hub. It sounds like you are a great mother with a fine daughter. My kids are younger but I think it all boils down to the fact that they just need attention. They want to be listened to and heard. Also you can only do your best with kids. 16 is not too old - she will still have a relationship with you for many years.

dineane profile image

dineane 7 years ago from North Carolina Author

Thank you, Catherine! I love it when comments bring me back to this hub. My DD is now 17, rising senior in high school. amazing how time flies!

misty 6 years ago

wonderful uplifting story for me, I have a 15 yr old daughter and i am a single mom as well. it seems by the comments I am on the right page raising her. we are best friends. she claims me to be her best freind to her freinds. it is really special. I am 40 yrs old and me and my 58 yr old mom are best freinds also. it runs in the family i suppose. I am so grateful I have loving parents that brought me up right and was always there for me to this day. i am just teaching my daughter what I have learned from my parents. I have also taught my daughter from a early age about having goals in life small and large she hated it at first (age 9) but now she cant do without them. it is inspiring to me. sometimes when I talk to her I see myself in her in so many ways. this is how I can tell that she truley grasps and absorbs what I have taught her in life so far. she is my world and I hope she will have the great relationship as me and my mom do. Like so many other comments I believe when a mother just sits and listens and gives light very light pointers it truley does sink in.

thanks for the hub it has inspired me.

dineane profile image

dineane 6 years ago from North Carolina Author

Thank you for your comment, Misty! I'm glad you enjoyed my hub. I should write an update soon! My dear daughter is almost 18!

Camo Girl!! 4 years ago

I am 16 and me and my mom talk about Boys,Love,School anytime i need to talk to her she is there for me i love my mom and i would do anything for her at anytime or place she helped me meet the guy i like and i will always stay in touch with my mom!!! LOVE YOU MOM YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE=))))

Broken Hearted 4 years ago

My 16 year old daughter is being bribed with cars and her own basement apartment by her father and his girlfriend to live with them. My daughter has shut me out and seems interested in only spending time with her father's girlfriend. She has elected to live with her father and I was served with custody modification papers this week. We have always been very close. It wasn't until the new girlfriend came into the picture that our relationship began to deteriorate. My whole world is falling apart! HELP!!!

drdspervez profile image

drdspervez 4 years ago from Pakistan

dineane thanks for sharing your thoughts,I rated you up for your efforts. :)


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