How often do you hear mothers of girls talk about their dread of the tween and teen years? Oh, the drama. Oh, the eye rolling. Oh, the door slamming. How will you get through it? Arden Greenspan-Goldberg, MSW, LSCW, BCD has a new book with great insights and tips for moms of teenage girls. We asked Arden the questions moms of girls want to know:
MommaSaid: In What Do You Expect? She’s a Teenager! A Hope and Happiness Guide for Moms with Daughters Ages 11-19 (Sourcebooks), you tackle not only the familiar teen problems –sex, drugs and alcohol — but also 21st century problems like sexting and cyberbullying. What can mothers do to protect their daughters without being excessively nosy?
Arden Greenspan-Goldberg: As a psychotherapist with over 35 years of experience and a mom of a 22 year old daughter, Samara, I know that we moms need to be on hyper-alert, vigilant about the over-stimulating, over sexualized pseudo-adult-like and sometimes dangerous cyber-world our daughters are growing up in.
Mom’s cyber-alert tips:
Patiently-Reminding, Repeating, Reinforcing (3 R’s) these important messages and themes throughout her and your life:
- Teach her that nothing on the Internet is 100% private.
- Explain that everything on the Internet is there forever. Even if she has deleted it (from her social site, cell), it can and often does come back to haunt her (cyber/bullying, harassment).
- Show her that privacy matters for her long-term best interests. (Don’t ever, ever, give out her password, even to her BFFL)!
- Make sure that Mom and Dad know their daughter’s passwords, for her own safety from others and to protect her from herself.
- Teach her that passwords need to be tricky and personally memorable. They can and need to be changed periodically to prevent hacking.
- Kids are stumbling upon porn sites as young as ten, so you should explain what porn is and what it does to people. The message is about valuing herself and her body enough to vigilantly protect and safe-guard her welfare.
MommaSaid: How can you tell if your child is being cyberbullied?
Arden: If you suspect your daughter is being cyber-bullied, here are some of the warning signs:
- Does she jump every time a text message or IM arrives?
- Does she uncharacteristically avoid the cell and computer, and keep them shut off?
- Has she become hypervigilant about opening every text, email message, or IM:? Is she spending more time online to patrol what is being said about her?
- Does she shut off her computer or cover the screen when you enter the room?
- Has she become tight-lipped about school and her friends there?
- Is she moody, sullen, depressed, unwilling to go to school, grades dropping?
- Has she attempted to harm, and hurt herself?
Conversation Starter: “Honey I expect you to be respectful and be treated with respect by your friends. Please tell me all about school, your friends, how they treat you and each other.” Take a reading of your daughter’s emotions every day. If she seems off, ask open- ended questions to get your daughter to share. Then you can help her navigate the issue.
MommaSaid: How can you take control of your teen’s access to and use of computer when, essentially, phones have become mini-mobile computers?
I offer the following tips:
- Set limits: Have mutually agreed upon parameters, limits and boundaries, for usage when your daughter first gets a cell phone, facebook account and Internet privileges. By making her part of the agreement, you will be able to repeat, reinforce and remind her, (3 R’s) of your original agreement. As she ages the parameters, like a contract, can be renegotiated. Expect her to press and test. Be flexible and fluid but age appropriate.
- Check up: Don’t forget you have her password and let her know that you are checking up on her. It’s ok to “snoop” at saved texts and pictures especially if you have a strange “gut” feeling that something is up with her.
- Monitor: Our daughters can post pictures of themselves drinking, drugging and are sexually explicit. We need to lend our brains and let them see the image that they are impulsively projecting of themselves can impact a summer internship, a job as a summer day camp counselor. Conversations starter: “Sweetie, Imagine how a parent would feel about your taking care of their kid if they saw some of your posted pictures. Oh, but mom I am on privacy settings. But honey, some of your friends have access to it and who knows who will be seeing those pictures.” We work on helping them connect cause and effect.
- Use the media: Make use of TV programs such as, Glee, American Teenager, any age appropriate teen driven program, commercials, newspaper and magazine articles or pictures. Sit together and use it as a spring board for discussion and create spontaneous teaching moments and opportunities.
As a psychotherapist and mom, My Aerial Parenting Approach has helped to raise my children from infancy to two young adults who are good eggs, Todd, 28 and Samara, 22 and has been both successful and teachable to parents and their children in my practice. As parents we are our children’s moral compass. We model good sound intelligent judgement and good gut instincts. We have a very big important job of creating good citizens, the next generation of good eggs, caring compassionate kids, able to be resilient, considerate of others feelings and ideas, accepting of differences and diversity, able to be caring and respectful of themselves. Kids learn what they live. We stand by them. We are true and strong. We rear, raise them and then let them fly. Of course they can come back to re-fuel and then they are on their life journey and adventure to find themselves again. They pass through us and we can be very appreciative and grateful to have the joyful opportunity to be part of the process. We make jokes, we laugh, play, love and learn from each other. It goes so fast. Remember to enjoy the ride!
Arden Greenspan-Goldberg’s book, What Do You Expect? She’s A Teenager! A Hope and Happiness Guide for Moms with Daughters ages 11-19 is available on Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble. Visit her web site at, Ask Arden.