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Support Your Daughter Through the Tough Times

Your teen daughter may act like she doesn’t need you, but the opposite is true. Numerous studies show that parents’ structure, advice, and guidance play a pivotal role in teens’ sense of wellbeing and resilience.

Kathi Bacon watched her older daughter go through a surprisingly difficult time when she won the race for class president in her junior year. Rather than congratulate her, other kids stopped talking to her. “It was like her friends thought she didn’t need them anymore,” says Bacon. As a mother, Bacon supported her daughter as best she could. “It was hard on her. I saw her suffer deeply.”

Though the situation at school was unexpected and hurtful, Bacon’s daughter ran for class president again -- and won again -- the following year.

Foster Confidence-Building Communication

As your daughter gets older, she’ll likely encounter pressures she’s never faced before. “Parents usually want to step in when they see their daughter struggle,” says JoAnn Deak, PhD, a psychologist and author of Girls Will Be Girls: Raising Competent and Courageous Daughters.

But as your daughter gets older, intervening is often not possible or even healthy. Many of the girls Deak works with tell her, “Sometimes I just need to talk things through. My mom wants to fix everything.” Instead, Deak tells WebMD, parents should let their daughters know they can listen without lecturing or intervening.

Granted your hair may stand on end. What if your daughter tells you that someone has posted suggestive photos of her online, for instance?

“If she brings it up, she wants to talk with you about it,” says Deak. Instead of lecturing or getting upset, Deak suggests parents create room for conversation by asking non-judgmental questions, such as “tell me what happened.” This doesn’t mean taking a passive role. If your daughter is putting herself as risk, it’s time for you to step in as a parent. “Just do so in a way that lets her know she can always talk to you,” says Deak.

Keep Online Activities on Your Radar

Social networks like Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter can increase the divide between parents and kids. You may feel out of your element talking about it, but a large number of social interactions take place between teenagers online -- and the interactions are highly public.

The good news is, many teens are savvy about protecting their personal information online, more so than adults. Seventy-seven percent (77%) of teens restrict access to their online photos sometimes or most of the time, compared to only 58% of adults. Encourage this behavior in your daughter. You may even ask her to review your online presence and make sure you’re protecting your own privacy.

Still, the Internet raises the stakes for many kids. Conversations that used to take place in person or over the phone are now online for everyone to see. Keep the channels of communication open about online activities so your daughter knows she can come to you if things get too intense. If you suspect bullying behavior, ask your daughter to let you look at her site. You can contact the Web site administrator and report behavior you consider dangerous.

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