Inspired by George Clooney’s latest film, The Descendants, which features a difficult father-daughter relationship, family expert Sue Atkins has been answering your questions and making suggestions about how members who have posted on our Parents of Teens message board may find a way forward. The following message was posted by community member thirdtimer:
“My daughter is 10 and while she’s not yet a teen, we’re increasingly finding ourselves dealing with quite grown-up issues with her.
“The latest issue we have, that I really want to get licked before she hits her teens and the stakes are higher, is other people’s feelings – namely boys’ feelings.
“She’s always been boy mad and especially romance mad but recently her classmates have started to ‘go out’ with each other and refer to themselves as being in relationships. It seems very young to me but we’ve tried to talk to her openly and not freak out! Anyway, she’s started to ‘go out with’ one boy then change her mind, dump him fairly unceremoniously and then chase his friend instead… She doesn’t seem to accept that any of these boys have feelings (even when they cry) and I’m worried about her becoming the kind of girl who uses boys and plays with people’s emotions. Help!”
Sue Atkins says…
One simple exercise I teach kids, as well as adults, is my ‘shoes and socks’ technique Get some paper and write the boy’s name on it that you daughter is talking about. Then get your daughter to step on the paper and talk to you AS IF SHE WAS THAT BOY – get her to say:
This teaches kids empathy as well as seeing life from the other person’s perspective and I think it will really help. If she doesn’t like what she sees or hears don’t let her beat herself up – just to learn from the experience and ask her what she could do differently next time. This may just be a phase and use it as an opportunity to teach her how to treat others – they see so much of this on the TV so talk to your daughter about love, romance, real relationships and pass on your values and beliefs to her and use this as an opportunity to guide, nurture and nudge her in the right direction for the future. Hope that helps.