Is your daughter looking for freedom and a sense of independence?
One of the most common things we hear from parents is that they feel that their daughters are pulling away from them.
Today we are going to dive into why that is, why it is totally normal (and needs to happen!) and what you can do to help.
The reason you’re witnessing this is simply that, at this stage of her life, she is going through what is called identity development. The psychologist, Erik Erikson talked about eight stages of development that we go through from birth to death. The ‘teenage stage’ (where your daughter is at or headed toward!) is the period where teenagers try to figure out who they are as a person, as individuals, separate from their parents.
Here they’re figuring out what they like and what they don’t like, they form their opinions, and their beliefs, and they start to get a general feeling about how the world is. But in order to do this effectively, they need to separate themselves from you.
What we want you to know is that this is not an indicator of love.
As Dr Diane Harner shares with us, it is an absolutely necessary process that they need to go through and as hard as it may be to believe, you need this to happen because:
If your daughter fails to establish her identity at this stage of her life, it can affect her ongoing development.
Teenagers who fail to establish their identity often end up as adults who are confused about who they are. They don’t know their role in society or what they are even passionate about. Unfortunately, we often see this lead to depression and anxiety.
It is easier said than done to let go of our girls, but we absolutely must.
However, it’s not all bad news. The good news is there are ways that you can support her as a parent.
- Firstly, you can encourage critical thinking, encourage her to form her own opinions and beliefs about things and challenge her. As hard as it may be sometimes you need to give her latitude to experiment. Let her try the pink hair, let her try the different makeup, let her try the different ways of dressing.
- We need to let her take risks. We need to allow her to engage in all of the different experiences she can.
- Importantly, we need to reserve our judgment over her choices. We need to be ok with the choices that she makes right now, because this is when she is experimenting.She’s figuring out who she is and we need to give her the latitude to do that.
- Lastly, we need to give her power over her decisions. We need to let her try and succeed and also try and fail, because this is how she will learn about the world and what she’s capable of.