Have you gone to the mall lately? My son’s favorite store is there, so we braved the Saturday afternoon crowd last weekend.
It didn’t take long before I was reminded of the power of the teenage tribe. The importance was on full display. Teenage girls moved through the store sewn together at the hip!
As our teenage daughters spread their wings and grow into their own person, establishing a “tribe” outside the family is essential.
Ideally, your daughter’s tribe members share common interests, values and goals. They accept individual’s faults, embrace uniqueness and encourage greatness.
You’ll recognize the tribe building process as your daughter prioritizes hang out time with her friends while taking copious selfies. Each teen has an inherent desire to fit in and feel accepted by her peers. Her tribe will become her new landing pad. She’ll work to build herself a solid platform and rely on her groupies for advice, entertainment and support.
But what if your daughter doesn’t find a tribe that honors and appreciates her value?
Without a tribe of her own, your daughter may begin to feel invisible leading to intense feelings of unworthiness, which cause detrimental consequences, both personally and socially.
3 Signs to Help You Determine If Your Teen Daughter is Tribeless
- Isolation – Your daughter spends increased amounts of time alone. You’ll likely find her spending profuse amounts of time scrolling through perception-warping posts and pictures from her social media “friends.” This is a slippery slope.
Research confirms that social medial can break down a teen’s self-image if she receives negative feedback (especially about her body) or, if she doesn’t get enough LIKES.
- Attention Seeking – She’ll go overboard to get attention by stirring up drama or bullying. You’ll hear her criticizing peers for their clothing, hair, grades … you name it.
If a teen goes overboard for attention, it’s a sign that she’s struggling with her own emotions. When she’s in crisis, she’ll seek to control her external environment. Although each teen demonstrates control in a different way, a common theme to watch out for is constant harsh judgment of others.
- Compromised Values – She’ll give in to or ignore her authenticity to fit in. She’ll do things she thinks will earn acceptance from her peers. You may notice that her grades slip, her clothing choices change, or her attitude changes towards activities she used to enjoy.
Although it’s normal for teens to try different personas, this change will be dramatic. If your daughter is compromising her values, ultimately, she’s lying to herself. When she silences her inner voice, it’s similar to an avalanche, making it difficult to advocate for her needs, particularly in precarious social situations. Of course, she’ll make mistakes. That’s expected. But repeated mistakes and self-ridicule can lead her away from self-care and self-compassion: two essential ingredients to happiness.
What can we do to help our daughters navigate the tricky adolescent seas and build confidence, integrity and resilience?
First and foremost, remind your daughter that she is worthy of love and respect, no matter what happens with and between her peers. Reinforce her worthiness even if she says the wrong thing, doesn’t make the volleyball team or receives a poor test score.
Personal time helps her to slow down and recharge, but too much time alone can be a signal that your daughter needs extra support. Keep your eyes and ears open for clues in her behavior and the stories she tells.
Listen to your instincts. If you’re concerned, reach out for support.
Help your daughter understand that she’s not the only teenage girl feeling this way. While her peers may take a different approach to friendship building, they all crave a tribe of their own.
If your daughter hasn’t found her “just right” tribe yet, this is a great opportunity to help your daughter build her self-awareness. When your daughter learns how to identify her feelings and recognize where they’re coming from, she will develop healthier personal boundaries. When she has clear personal boundaries, she’s less likely to turn to social media for support when she’s having a meltdown. An action she’ll likely regret.
As parents, our role may take a different shape, but certainly doesn’t end here. These teens still need our unconditional love, maybe now more than ever before.
How have you helped your daughter through tribe troubles?