With my daughter starting high school, I’ve been reflecting on all the things I learned along the way so you won’t make some of the same mistakes I did.
Now I just need someone to write about getting your daughter through the high school years . . .
Always keep ramen in your pantry.
This is for when friends come over—and don’t buy the organic kind. I have yet to meet a teen who will eat Whole Foods ramen. The good news is you can buy a 12 pack at Walmart for two bucks. Stock up on boxes of healthy mac and cheese because teen girls will eat any brand, even if they undercook the noodles and add too much milk.
There are some things we can’t fix.
Broken friendships, being cut from a sports team, a bad test grade, not getting the part in the school play. These obstacles are a dress rehearsal for when our children won’t get what they want in adulthood—the perfect job, the perfect house, the relationship they thought was “the one.” If our kids don’t experience letdowns at the middle school level, they won’t have the tools to deal with much bigger losses.
Support your teen when things go wrong and show them how to recover from a negative experience, and whatever you do—resist the urge to be their fixer.
Teach yourself how to do French braids.
This will come in handy when lice is going around for the hundredth time. Even after everyone’s been to the lice salon or had the “Lice Lady” visit their house, it keeps coming back like the villain in a horror movie. Spritz your daughter’s hair with a lice repellent like Fairy Tales Rosemary Repel Lice Prevention Conditioning Spray and style her hair into French braids. The Kardashian-Jenner girls have brought back braids, so at least your daughter will be on-trend.
Don’t be your daughter’s social engineer.
This is a tough one when every other mom seems to be doing it. It can also be particularly difficult if your daughter feels like she is holding on to her friend group by a tenuous thread. No matter how many girls’ outings you organize, girls will decide for themselves who they want to be friends with as soon as they’re old enough to start making their own plans. Social engineering just delays the inevitable and prevents your daughter from figuring out who her real friends are. Authentic and genuine friendships happen organically and are more fulfilling to your daughter in the long run.
Label your daughter’s clothes.
She is guaranteed to leave her black leggings at a friend’s house or in the locker room and of course, it won’t be her cheap pair from Target, it will be the hundred-dollar Lululemon pants she spent her birthday money on, the same pants every other girl in her grade owns. I’m convinced there is a suburban Bermuda Triangle filled with black leggings.
Don’t badmouth your daughter’s teacher or coach.
Your child is destined at some point to work with an adult they don’t click with. Sometimes it’s a personality thing, other times it’s because this adult is pushing your child past their comfort zone so they can excel. Badmouthing this adult, or jumping to the rescue will make it impossible for your child to respect them, which will result in disaster. At some point as an adult, your child might have a boss they have trouble connecting with and they will have to overcome that and still perform at their best.
Don’t blow your whole wad of back-to-school shopping on one trip.
Buy your daughter some staple items, then save some of your budget for a second shopping trip a few weeks into school after she’s seen what everyone is wearing and she’s begging for x, y, or z.
Think of middle school as a dress rehearsal for high school.
It’s all about making your kid independent and ready for when their grades count towards college. So don’t bring the forgotten instrument, or scientific calculator, or math assignment to school for them. It’s better for your child to learn from the consequence now, than later on. You won’t be there to bring their laptop to class in college.
Also, remember that one bad middle school grade won’t keep them from Harvard. Make sure you remind them of that so they don’t get an ulcer in sixth grade.
Teach your daughter the beauty of CoverGirl and Maybelline.
This will hopefully counter all the beauty tutorial videos that convince teens they need to spend a fortune on Kylie Cosmetics and Sephora. Something is seriously wrong when your makeup bag is filled with CoverGirl and your teen daughter’s is overflowing with Blue Mercury and Sephora. A great place to take your daughter for makeup brushes and other fun beauty supplies that will feel like a splurge, but won’t break the bank is E.L.F. Try to save Sephora for a special treat.
Don’t ask if you look fat in front of your daughter.
I’ve read all the articles about why it’s bad to do this. But, honestly, it’s a hard habit to break, especially in the age of social media when you know the worst picture of you will be the one to show up in everyone’s news feeds.
Last year, I was getting ready for a book signing and I asked my daughter, “Do I look fat in this?” She had recently grown overnight into the same exact height, weight, and clothing size as me. She looked me in the eyes and said, “If you think you look fat, then you must think I’m fat.” That was the last time I asked that question. It was a big reminder to me that how we view ourselves and our bodies trickles down to our daughters.
I’m sure I missed a few things. So, feel free to add your own tips in the comment section.