I was talking with a group of moms recently when we discussed which of our children, our boys or girls, were more difficult to raise. Everyone had different answers, but ultimately, one thing was decided: teenage girls are the worst.

Yes, “the worst” was how teenage girls were described. And honestly, I didn’t judge the moms who said this because I knew they were living in the daily struggle of having teen girls. Their words weren’t coming from a place of harshness, but feelings of defeat and helplessness.

I don’t blame these women, and I don’t judge them.

And honestly, this definitely isn’t the first time I’ve heard this. I don’t have teenage girls of my own, but I have the privilege of working with many of them in my therapy office each day. So, I frequently see the exhaustion, desperation, and pain in the eyes of these girls’ parents as they search for ways to help their daughters.

I know it’s real—the teenage hormones, the extreme moodiness, the shortness, the unpredictable anger, the crying, all of it. It’s real and it can feel impossible to actually connect and engage with teen girls sometimes.

However, I don’t think the way we are talking about teenage girls is doing them any favors, either.

I don’t think complaining about how ridiculous we think it is that they put so much time, effort, and money they into their clothing and appearance is helpful.

I don’t think joking about how we never know what mood they will be in because they’re such emotional rollercoasters benefits them at all.

I don’t think rolling our eyes because they are once again upset about the drama in their friends group actually helps them.

I don’t think talking behind their backs to other moms about how difficult they are really does any good either.

Because the truth is, being a teenage girl in our culture today can be absolutely terrifying. In history, teenage years are notoriously hard years for females, but in our culture today it can just be brutal. As someone who is only 28, just 11 years out from being a teenager, I can tell you it truly is a different world than it used to be. These girls are under so much pressure.

With social media at their fingertips, they always want to look good because they never know when they will be in a Snapchat that is sent out to the whole school. They constantly have to be careful of what they say to their friends because the texts they send can easily be shared to a giant group of people. They are always reminded when they are not invited to hang out with the girls in their grade because they see the posts about all the fun they are having on Instagram. Not to mention, because of social media, they are constantly comparing themselves to the other girls in the filtered pictures, which often leads to feelings of inadequacy. Any wrong move they make, they can easily be kicked out of a text thread, a lunch table, or an entire friends group, which can also follow with some form of cyber bullying.

When I was in high school, I didn’t have to worry about any of this.

To adults, this can seem to silly and shallow, and I get that. But we have to understand things from their perspective in order to gain some empathy. It’s during your teen years that you are trying to discover who you are and where your spot is in the world. You want to fit in so badly that you’ll do just about anything in order to get into a friends group. You look around at others, and it feels impossible not to compare yourself. So when these girls inevitably feel like they are falling short, of course they will be emotional. They don’t have an adult brains, or the mental maturity, to tell themselves that this stuff doesn’t matter. It does matter to them, more than anything. And it can pretty easily feel like their world is crashing down.

As adults, we could really help these girls by changing the way we talk about them. We could get rid of the labels we’ve put on them and talk about the amazing qualities they have instead.

Instead of an emotional rollercoaster, we could call them emotionally aware and in tune. Instead of calling them “rude” and “short”, we could talk about how they are trying to gain independence from their parents because they aren’t little girls anymore. Instead of rolling our eyes at their drama, we could give them credit for caring so much about their friendships, and help them cultivate healthy boundaries. Instead of talking to others about how hard they are, we could talk about how wonderful they are, too.

They hear what we say. And even if they don’t hear the words, they can see it in our body language. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard things like “my parents think I’m crazy”, “my parents are annoyed by me”, or “everyone just thinks I’m dramatic but they don’t understand”, come out of the mouths of teenage girls. They know. And how we talk about them matters.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t ever confide in our friends about the hardships of parenthood, because we all need an outlet sometimes. But we, as a culture, have put some extremely negative labels on these girls, and I believe these labels are only hurting them during a time in their lives when they are already so vulnerable.

Let’s change how we talk about them. Let’s empower them and let them know they DO have a place in this world and that they are so valuable.

These teen girls will turn into women and many of them into mothers someday, and if they were empowered as teens, if they were taught to maneuver this difficult time with grace instead of shame, they will be able to help the next generation of teenagers do the same.

But it starts with us.

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our new book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available now!

Order Now

Kelli Bachara

Kelli Bachara is a wife and mom to two sweet kiddos. She is a mental health therapist, writer, and podcaster. Kelli loves her Goldendoodle, coffee, and this beautiful thing called life. You can find her at www.kellibachara.com.

Sweet Commercial About A Dad and Daughter Reconnecting Over Taylor Swift Has Us Teary

In: Motherhood, News, Teen, Tween
father and daughter cuddled up on the couch watching football

It’s hard for any girl dad to imagine a time when his daughter will stop wanting to spend time with him. But seemingly overnight, she can go from a devoted daddy’s girl to a prickly, detached teen who is much more interested in what’s happening on her phone than hanging out with her old man. Suddenly it can feel like there is no common ground between them, and shared interests are few and far between. But this NFL season has been different for football-loving dads and their Swiftie daughters. A heartwarming commercial from Cetaphil with the tagline, “A New Sports...

Keep Reading

Watching Your Big Kids Blossom is a Blessing

In: Motherhood, Teen, Tween
Tween and mother preparing food

A little over a week ago, I received a call from my dad, and over the next 12 hours regarding my mom, I heard words and phrases like bad fall, ambulance, ER, something on the CT scan, and broken arm. By the next morning, I told my husband I wanted to take our two oldest children, 12 and 14, and make the four-hour trip to my parents’ house. He didn’t hesitate to agree to take care of the four youngest, and my oldest two agreed to quickly pack a suitcase and hop in the truck with me. As we headed...

Keep Reading

In These Teen Years, I Wonder If I’m Doing Enough

In: Grown Children, Motherhood, Teen
Boy walking in the ocean surf

It’s a strange feeling to look back at all the years as a parent and wonder if I am doing enough. My boys are teens. One of them has just a few baby steps left until he heads into life after living under our roof. He is fiercely independent. One of those kids who I have for my whole life mistaken for being years older than he actually is. The kind of kid who can hold a conversation that reminds you of when you are out with your friends enjoying a bottle of wine at a restaurant made for middle-aged...

Keep Reading

I’m the Parent on the Sidelines and It’s Where I Belong

In: Motherhood, Teen
Sports parents walk across field carrying chair

“I know what I’m doing. This is my tryout—let me do it my way,” my freshman daughter told me. I shut my mouth, knowing as much as I didn’t want to hear it, she was right. This was my daughter’s time, not mine. My role wasn’t to make the choices on what position to try out for or even what opportunities and activities to dedicate her time to in high school. I watched her do her thing on the soccer field that first season. That first day of tryouts when she pretty much told me to shut it and let her...

Keep Reading

18 Years Went by In a Flash

In: Grown Children, Motherhood, Teen
Girl walking into college dorm

If I close my eyes, I can conjure the feather-light weight of my newborn daughter. At under five pounds, my tiny bundle of love looked up at me with eyes so big and bright I swore they could discern my soul. No one warned me then of the chaotic parenthood journey ahead. So many firsts and lasts would pepper our paths. Her first word, steps, and school day flew by amongst a whirlwind of activities designed to keep us both occupied—park play dates, music classes, and mom and baby yoga occupied much of our early days. I recorded everything in...

Keep Reading

To My Bonus Daughters, I Love You Like My Own

In: Motherhood, Teen, Tween
Teen girls walking to school with backpacks

To my daughter’s best friend who we have known and loved since preschool, I love you like my own. To my neighbor’s daughter who I carpool to and from school, volleyball games, birthday celebrations, and Chick-fil-A runs, I love you like my own. To the teenage girls in my car who vent to me about impossible algebra tests, difficult teachers, and boy crushes, I love you like my own. To the new friendships my girls build year after year, welcome, I love you like my own. To my daughter’s girlfriends who don’t start unnecessary drama, I love you like my...

Keep Reading

God Is There for Middle School Mistakes

In: Motherhood, Teen, Tween
Teen with head in hands

No one prepared me for the troubles of having two children going through middle school. I seemed to have forgotten about the hormones, the normalcy of friendship break-ups, and the learning curve that comes with the freedom from being connected to one teacher all day. The first two weeks of the start of any new school year have always been tough on my kids. The adjustment from doing what we like in the summer months to buckling back down to becoming their best academic warrior selves. It was of no surprise when I got a call from the principal two...

Keep Reading

Kids Remember the Simple Things Done With Love

In: Motherhood, Teen, Tween
Christmas lights on a string hanging on a wall

My tween boy said he wanted to decorate his room for Christmas. He said, “You know how you used to hang the ornaments in the window?” “Yes,” I said. “Like a long time ago. You probably were in kindergarten.” Actually, I was surprised. I haven’t done it in years. But he remembered. I used to stand up on a chair in our sunroom and use silver fishing line to connect the ornaments so it would almost be invisible from far away. Then, I would tie them in the window blinds. It was a pain, but it looked pretty when the...

Keep Reading

The Proverbs 31 Woman for Teens

In: Faith, Teen, Tween
Teen girl smiling outside

A girl with a noble character is hard to find. Her family can trust her. She sees things to be done and does them without being told. She has a good attitude when asked to do something. She makes wise decisions about her friends. She tries to put others first even when she doesn’t want to. She stands up for herself and the underdog who is being bullied. RELATED: A Prayer For Daughters She tells the truth—even if she is going to get in trouble. She is strong physically and not lazy. She is a problem solver in all situations. She...

Keep Reading

I Am Her Mother and Her Friend

In: Grown Children, Motherhood, Teen, Tween
Mother and grown daughter at restaurant, color photo

The moment I realized my daughter was my friend was her first college drop-off. Her tears displayed her love and gratitude to both me and my husband while her honesty and openness revealed a true strength of our friendship. I left her peering out her open dorm door, knowing the bond of mother and daughter was strong but so was that of friend. In the early years of motherhood, I knew about that fine line between mother and friend. But I found the concept even more present with my daughter. She was the last of three and the only girl....

Keep Reading