Bonding with teenage girls. You guys, it’s as hard as everyone told me it was going to be and then some. I don’t know what it is about the mother-daughter relationship that makes it so difficult sometimes to see eye-to-eye, but I genuinely do believe that it’s because ultimately, underneath it all, mothers and daughters are so often very much alike. Fourteen has come with so many awesome moments but also its share of struggles and hurdles. So, I try like hell to make as many awesome moments as possible. One way I’ve learned to help build a stronger bond between my daughter and I is to bond over common interests. I realize that’s common advice and I didn’t invent the idea, but you never realize just how difficult that is until you try finding something in common with a teenager. It’s legit hard because KIDS THESE DAYS, AM I RIGHT?
Sorry. I had to throw that in there at some point.
But it’s not just moms and daughters. Raising teenagers is a goddamn marathon. There are highs and lows and it’s up to you to strive for as many highs as possible.
I’ve learned that I can’t bond with my daughter over everything. She loves to follow YouTubers who post 45 minute long tutorials on how to make the cat-eye using liquid eyeliner, a vacuum attachment, and some playdough. Or something like that. (Clearly, I pay very close attention.) I tried pretending that I was interested in these videos. I genuinely did. But it was impossible. They’re terrible. There. I said it. And if I said it like one of these make-up YouTubers would, it would go something like, “Ohmygod, you guys. Not kidding. They’re literally THE WORST. No. LITERALLY. I just. I can’t. You guys. I’m dead.”
After asking countless times why she found these videos remotely entertaining, though, I realized that I was trying to talk her out of being entertained by something that is virtually pretty harmless. She doesn’t wear that kind of makeup and she knows better than to talk like most of them, so whatever. Which leads me to the most important rule:
AGREE TO DISAGREE ON INTERESTS
We agreed to disagree and I realized that’s actually a pretty great thing to learn how to do. I don’t act judgey or dismissive when I don’t “get” something she’s into and she returns the favor. This doesn’t mean that you can’t be honest about your feelings about not liking something, but be mindful of phrasing it in a way that is respectful to their individuality.
So, I had to find the things that we could bond over.
MAKE A LIST FOR EACH OF YOUR INTERESTS AND CIRCLE THE COMMON DENOMINATORS.
Turns our, we both love reading, Netflix, movies, music.
Boom. Next up,
MAKE A LIST FROM YOUR COMMON INTERESTS OF THINGS YOU WILL BOTH FIND ENJOYABLE IN EACH CATEGORY.
I made list of books, shows, movies, and music that we would both find enjoyable. Then,
USE EACH INTEREST AS A WAY TO CONNECT BY SHARING DETAILS, KEEPING EACH OTHER UPDATED ON INFORMATION, SENDING EACH OTHER UPDATES OR HEADLINES, ATTENDING EVENTS, ETC.
We blazed through all of John Green’s books together and discussed. We also watched the movies based on his books and have had multiple conversations.
We binged every episode of Gilmore Girls from start to finish and back again for the reboot. We went to Luke’s Diner pop up together. We make jokes, references, and quote the show together constantly.
We both love music but we don’t always agree on what qualifies as “good” music. But I’m not afraid to admit that she converted me into a One Direction fan. And even at 36 years old, I’m not above keeping up on 1D headlines in the news — Not because I particularly care that Harry Styles cut his hair or wore a hot pink suit on the Today Show*, but because it gives me an opportunity to send her the headline so we can have a few nice moments just gushing together over it.
(*Okay, I totally do. I’M NOT MADE OF STONE.)
We also developed a love for collecting our favorite music on vinyl and enjoy spending Sundays browsing through record stores (yes, they still exist!) …
.. And one of our favorite things to do together is to attend concerts.
We’ve been to quite a few shows together over the years: Taylor Swift (twice), Katy Perry, Ed Sheeran, Shawn Mendes, One Direction, Panic! at the Disco, Twenty-One Pilots, Jingle Ball, and the 1975 are the ones that stand out. We have quite a few more concerts coming up this summer. Even when their bands that I wouldn’t normally see if she wasn’t interested in going, it’s always a great time and I love that we will look back on each one of these concerts together when we’re older and be so happy that we did it.
And finally, a good rule of thumb is:
DON’T OVER-SHELTER. USE EVERYTHING AS A TOOL TO COMMUNICATE.
Being a teenager in 2017 is serious business. No, really. I have no idea how kids handle the weight of it all, to be honest, and I make sure to let her know that I’m aware of just how much is on her shoulders at such a young age. These kids are OVER EXPOSED, whether you want to believe it or not.
The best thing you can do is to use some of those uncomfortable moments as teachable moments. That doesn’t mean don’t filter what you can, of course. I’m still very staunchly against TV-MA and Rated R programming unless I’m able to screen them first. So, you know, we won’t be bingeing Orange Is The New Black together any time soon. But there are plenty of teachable moment in the more awkward but appropriate things, like I wrote about after viewing 13 Reasons Why.
The most important thing is to just find something to do together and genuinely be present. The teenage years are rough on everyone- us and them. Make the most of it with the special moments and hang on tight. Because before you know it, it’ll be time to let go.