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What do I tell her?

The Princess will be 15 in a few months, starting high school just before. We are entering the world of boys, dating, parties…..high school social life. I’m a bit terrified. Such a minefield. So here’s my question – how much of your life experience do you share with your teens? Does it make a difference or change their behavior? Do they even listen, or just nod their heads while rolling their eyes?

Do I tell her my mistakes? Do I tell her about the time I cheated on my boyfriend because the guy I’d had a crush on years before finally took a moment to notice me? Do I tell her the potentially really bad situations I put myself in? Do I tell her about the relationships I sabotaged or ended before the guy could have a chance to leave me, or prove himself? Do I tell her about the boys I treated badly, using the excuse of recovering from how the last boy treated me? Do I warn her off controlling boyfriends? Do I tell her the things I really regret doing or not doing?

I went from not being noticed at all, to getting a decent amount attention from boys. It was pretty heady, and overwhelming. It took me years to figure out how to handle myself, handle them. I needed, oh how I needed. I made so many mistakes, so many errors in judgement. Sometimes I just shake my head, realizing how lucky I am to be where I am. On the flip side, I had some amazingly wonderful experiences, met some incredible people, and grew because of choices, right and wrong.

I try to think back to when I was her age. Did my mom try to talk to me? Did I just tune her out, unable to imagine her as a teenager facing what I did each day? Would it have made any difference if she did tell me, and I did listen? Do we all just have to walk that path on our own?

We were driving home from the studio last night, and I felt this driving need to tell her everything, really talk to her about boys, dating, sex, relationships. But I didn’t know where to start, what to tell her, what to hold back. So I didn’t say anything. It haunted me through the night – memories dredged up, old hurts revisited, heartbreaks re-lived, some of my darker, most regretful moments brought back to life.

I wasn’t promiscuous, nor considered a “bad girl” by any means, and yet there are still many things I would have changed, avoided. But what, really, does she need to know, if anything at all, of my past? All I’ve told her to date is that I kissed my share of boys, and dated/hung out with more.

What do you tell your kids when you reach this stage?

23 thoughts on “What do I tell her?

  1. I had boys, so it may be different. But looking back, I realize they were watching me, and listening, even though they pretended they weren’t. I shared a little, but not until later, when they would open up first. Mostly, just letting her know that you’re there if she needs you is probably one important thing to do. She still needs Mom, a feeling that there is some structure, even as she test it, and tests her own wings. I remember going through those years and feeling that my parents wouldn’t understand, but I still needed to know they were there.

  2. As my girls became teenagers and young women, I had the same concerns and worries. At 15, they don’t want mom’s advice about anything – but I found that there were times when the conversation would naturally take a course that allowed me to share some of my hard-earned wisdom. Just play it by ear – you’ll know instinctively when it’s the right time to share something that happened during your own life, and trust me, you’ll also know instinctively how to say what needs to be said.

  3. Boy there’s no easy answer to this one. I would be honest with mine. But they didn’t ask a lot about “my” experiences. And they sure didn’t always want to listen. Trust yourself, you’ll know what to say. And if you make a mistake? You’ll both work through it. I don’t think you’ll do the wrong thing no matter which way you go.

  4. I cannot possibly tell you what to tell her. These topics are frequently, candidly, casually discussed in our house, and were at a much earlier age. I do fear you might wanna get started, because what’s being discussed among peers at school isn’t her best resource. And even if she dismisses you, it’s important that you continue to teach her.

    If she has good friends, that’s key. She’ll choose to date people who treat her the way she’s accustomed to being treated 🙂

    • Oh we’ve been having general discussions and specific discussions on all that fun stuff for at least five years. I’ve just never really told her my experiences. Aaaahhhh

      • What are you waiting for? That’s my point, I’m sorry I didn’t word it right. The stories she hears from peers aren’t those of an adult looking back in wisdom. Use your wisdom in all its glory.
        Be honest as much as possible, and how! 😀

  5. OMG why are you making me think about this?! It’s terrifying isn’t it. I suppose you can tell her some things and open up a little more as she gets older.
    Only God knows what I’m going to do when I get to this stage!😳

    • It’s freaking me out completely!! I just know I didn’t really talk about sex with my mom, other than for her to say “Don’t”. There’s so much more to it than that!

  6. I’d stick with general good advice and guidance until she has a handle on the basics of her own personal morality (a lot of which she’ll get from you) and save the edgier stuff concerning misadventures, mistakes and regrets for later. After all, you’re her mum, she’s not really going to believe you did anything actually WRONG, because, well, because you’re her mum.
    I wouldn’t risk the possibility that she takes away anything from your initial talk, other than the best guidance, in case any borderline/naughty stuff falls into the category of “well, mum did it, so it can’t be THAT bad”.
    You can always have the more candid talk when she is a little older and can appreciate the subtleties a bit more.

  7. I will speak to you from the perspective of the daughter. My mother never taught me anything really meaningful about relationships with boys. She told me I couldn’t wear makeup or date until I was 14. OK fine. Then, when something unfortunate (but minor) happened, she said, “I knew I should have made you wait until you were 16!” All the judgment, none of the preparation. Give your daughter guidelines about how to tell a really decent guy from some creep who’s just playing around or worse. If my mother had done even that much, I would have probably avoided at least a few disasters.

  8. I worry about this all the time. I was the good girl. The A student and nationally ranked skater. But I did one stupid thing for years, that was unhealthy and I worry that if she ever asks me, I will have to say yes. I did something that could cause cancer, and to impress a boy. So stupid! I guess we will wait and see and I will ask my husband to guide me. This is a wonderful post. Thank you for sharing what has worried me years before I need to worry about it.

    • There’s so many worries as a parent. And just when you think you have a solid handle on it, everything shifts. I was a good girl too – straight A student, youth group at school, and so on. But still many mistakes I would hope she would avoid. Blessedly, she doesn’t seem to have the massive self esteem issues I dealt with.

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