Ten things you should tell your teenage daughter

I’m a divorced dad and, as my teenage daughter gets older, she seems to be coming to me with her questions and problems more than she goes to her mother. That’s no real problem for me, and I feel proud that she feels she can talk to her dad about boyfriend problems and the like, but I don’t exactly have a lot of experience of being a teenage girl! So, I thought do a little digging and make sure I’m saying the right things and here ten things that I found out you should be telling your teenage daughter.

1. Getting drunk is not funny
As I am a recovering alcoholic, I would hope that my daughter doesn’t need to be told of the dangers of alcohol. None the less, I see enough drunken teens on the streets on a Saturday night and here enough stories about binge drinking to make me worry that my daughter might be tempted to follow the example of her peers. The message to get across to teenage drinkers is that alcohol has a greater effect on a younger brain, so they get drunk quicker. And, when you are drunk, you do stupid things. Apparently, many women regret their first sexual encounter, because they were drunk at the time.

2. Life doesn’t always turn out the way you want it to
Having dreams and aspirations is great, but we all learn eventually that things don’t always go according to plan. She may not pass all the exams that she hopes to, she may not get into the college she has set her heart on and, yes, the boyfriend she has been with for over a year probably will eventually dump her. She doesn’t have to become a pessimist, or a defeatist, but having realistic expectations is never a bad thing.

3. Don’t believe that everyone is doing it
Whether it’s sex, drugs, alcohol, or just staying out all night long, the stock answer when a teen hears a no is ‘But, everyone else is doing it’. Don’t let your teen get pressurised into doing something they are not ready for because they believe that all their friends are doing it. Tell them to ask a few of their closest friends, in private, if they are really doing it and, hopefully, they will get a clearer picture of the truth.

4. No drugs are safe
Another myth that abounds around school is that smoking cannabis is ‘OK’ and that legal highs are safe, because they are legal and, of course, neither is true. I was shocked at how prevalent drugs were at my daughter’s school. So I have tried to drum into her not take anything at all. I have met many drug addicts over the past few years and believe me; many of them are now dead.

5. Do the things that you love
Encourage your teens to follow their dreams and peruse a career in something they will actually enjoy. Don’t pressure them into following in your footsteps, if that’s not what they want and explain to them that money isn’t everything. I want my kids to live comfortable lives and not have to struggle financially, but I also want them to be happy in their work. You spend a heck of a lot time at work, so you might as well enjoy it.

6. It is good to talk
It’s also important to make the time to listen to your teenagers and encourage them to talk. Don’t shy away from difficult topics either. It is far better that they hear the advice from you, than from one of their friends at school. It’s also important to explain the options to them and not to simply instil your own beliefs and opinions in them.

7. The importance of managing money
The sooner your teenage daughter learns that money doesn’t grow on trees, the better! You can’t buy her affection by buying her all the latest gadgets and fads, so give her an allowance and tell that she will have to manage it herself. She will have to learn to budget later in life, so learning how to take care of money early on won’t do her any harm at all.

8. The importance of sex
You don’t need to sit your daughter down and give her the old fashioned, ‘birds and bees’ talk anymore, she will have learned all that at school. What I believe that teenagers don’t get taught is the importance of the sexual act itself. The porn, that no doubt she will have seen, trivialises sex and makes casual sex appear to be the norm. Teaching a teen about safe sex and birth control is important, but so is encouraging them to understand that sex should be more than a hasty encounter on a grubby park bench.

9. Respect other people
Respecting other people, whatever walk of life they come from, is so important and it can get you a long way in life. This is about more than minding your P’s and Q’s, it’s about realising that you should respect other people’s opinions, because they may well know things that you don’t. Respect doesn’t always have to go hand in hand with admiration either. You may well not admire the homeless guy begging on the street corner, but he still deserves your respect as a human being.

10. Make sure she knows that you love her
With so many children growing up without one, or the other, of their parents living in the house, so making sure that a teen knows they are loved is even more important than ever. It doesn’t cost a penny to say I love you and to encourage your daughter to come to you when she needs help and advice. It’s important that a teenager knows they will make mistakes along the way, but that whatever those mistakes are, they will still be loved by both of their parents, whether they live in the same house, or not.

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