How to Support Your Struggling Teenage Daughter
Being a teenage girl has never been easy, but in our current era, girls are faced with a myriad of issues that make these ten years of their lives tougher than ever. Even more daunting is that the remedies that worked for Mom and Grandma might not work for today’s girls. However, there are ways to help effectively if your daughter is struggling. Here are a few common issues and some solutions for them.
With American society’s fixation on thinness, it’s not surprising that huge numbers of girls are turning to anorexia, bulimia and other disorders to look and feel good. An article on Parents.com indicates that some girls display disordered eating as young as eight or nine. To prevent this, model healthy eating at home – but remember, “healthy” also means eating healthy fats, getting enough carbs and not cutting out treats altogether.
Also, avoid criticizing your body or weight in front of your daughter. If your daughter does need treatment for an eating disorder, several centers exist, including Timberline Knolls Treatment Center in Lemont, IL and Remuda Ranch, a Christian-based organization with two Arizona locations.
Drug and Alcohol Addiction
According to a recent USA Today survey, even though “teen drug use and drinking is declining,” girls are still more likely than boys to seek solace from problems using alcohol and drugs. And just like boys, girls will try “hard drugs” like heroin and cocaine. Parents can help by familiarizing themselves with the physical and emotional signs of abuse, such as glassy eyes, unexplained weight loss and withdrawal from family, but if your daughter needs specialized help, please seek out residential treatment.
Many U.S. states have centers specifically for women, particularly in the Southeast. The New River Wellness Center in Florida and the Pavilion Treatment Center in North Carolina are two well-known examples; both offer one-on-one treatment, constructive activities and even programs for older women (50 and over) struggling with addiction. This is particularly useful if addiction tends to run in the family, especially from mother to daughter.
Difficulties at home, including divorce, abuse and other issues, can cause girls to cut, scratch or burn themselves to rid themselves of pain. Girls might also do this because of self-esteem issues or because they find it hard to talk out their problems. If your daughter is doing this, remember that often self-injury is not a suicide attempt; it is a way to escape or seek attention.
Find a trusted counselor immediately. Encourage your daughter to keep her nails short if she’s a scratcher. If she’s a cutter, limit access to sharp objects; the same goes for lighters and cigarettes if your daughter is a burner. You can also find help at SAFE Alternatives or To Write Love on Her Arms.
Having a teenage daughter who struggles with disordered eating, self-injury, or addiction can be heartbreaking and scary. But treatment is available. More important than treatment, however, is your role in your daughter’s recovery. Even if she doesn’t seem to want you right now, she will reach out to you for love and support. Be there to give it, and know you and your daughter can have victory over her struggles.