Transition Years: Helping Your Daughter Navigate Major Milestones
Smart Girls everywhere have headed back to school and Smart Moms are doing their best to support them but I cannot think of a bigger transition than the one my oldest daughter is experiencing right now: Freshman year in college. I’m watching all her friends go off to their various colleges and begin their new lives and it thrills me to see them all so happy. But the biggest thrill of all? Knowing my daughter is doing exactly what she’s supposed to, even if it is 1,500 miles away.
Transition years can be anything from moving up to a new school to changing sports teams or moving to a new city. Transition years commonly have some turbulence, but I think it’s those hard times that actually bring the biggest amount of growth and maturity. I know as moms, we often wish for the easy path, the happiest days, the ones with no troubles or worries. It’s so natural because when our kids hurt, we hurt. When they’re happy, we’re happy. It is just all part of the whole mom-heart gig. But, we need to remember sometimes this is how they grow. They really need to know how to survive the hard times. I cannot underestimate the importance of this life skill.
Transition years bring new responsibilities, new environments and new friends and social situations. Here are some things we can do as moms to help our girls make smart choices during these transitions.
Stay involved in her life by engaging in conversations. Know her friends and their social activities, stay up to date with school and teacher relationships and support her activities. I’m certainly not suggesting we need to know every detail, but sticking our heads in the sand isn’t the answer either. We need to be aware.
You can talk to her. But be sure to LISTEN to her. Teenagers are funny creatures and if they think for one second that you’re not really listening or HEARING them, they will shut down faster than a blink. Practice the art of listening. You might be amazed at what you hear.
When she comes to you with a genuine life issue and wants your advice (yes this day does happen!) be ready to stop and be there for her. Take the time to listen and ask her what she thinks she should do or say. Talk through the scenarios and what the possible outcomes could be.
Resist the urge to TELL her what to do, even if you have a lifetime of expertise on the subject! If she’s really stumped, offer a couple suggestions, pointing her to the big picture and good choices. Help her stand on her own feet and make good decisions herself.
Each transition is a big deal. Until the next one and then that transition is the big deal. One day really big changes will arrive and, yes, we will all survive. The hard times might come, but they bring clarity and teach us how to be brave and strong. And when you watch her making smart choices with her academics, her social scene, her free time and her career…wow! Celebrate that! Even if it’s far away, you will still be so proud, because you’ll know she has the strength to face the next transition.