Teen years are testing time for all

By Hayley Dixon and agencies

A STUDY in Britain has found the typical teenage girl struggling with her hormones has an average of 183 rows a year with her mother – and two Port Elizabeth professionals said this was not surprising.

The study by Li-Lets, showed on average, the girls cried 123 times over boys, slammed 164 doors, had 257 fights with siblings, and fell out with their friends 127 times – despite spending 274 hours on the phone to them.

And the picture in South Africa was not much different, said the head of guidance and life orientation at Collegiate High School for Girls’s, Elna Maree.

She said the study highlighted “similar issues” experienced by girls in South Africa.

“However, most of the issues mentioned are age-related, for example, fighting is more relevant to the Grade 8 and 9 girls.

“Hating their mother in Grade 9, and fighting with their mothers picks up again in Grades 11 and 12 and so on.

“It would be very interesting to do a survey and see the results for local girls!” Maree said.

A quarter of women questioned for the British study admitted their “testing teens” were full of anxiety, and regrettably hard on the whole family.

Rows over bedroom tidiness, answering back and dating boys were among the most common causes of arguments between mother and daughter.

Port Elizabeth clinical social worker Heather Rauch said it was important for parents to realise that teenage girls of today wanted to be independent.

“It is a complex time in a girl’s life because she is still in a developmental phase. Parents need to try understand.

“They need to have boundaries but at the same time let the child know you are there for them,” Rauch said.

It was only when a woman reached the age of 23 that she started to appreciate everything her mother did for her, the study found.

Despite not always seeing eye-to- eye with their mothers, four in ten, or 40% of teenage girls, said the heart-to-heart talks they had with their mothers proved “crucial” in getting through the difficult decade.

Three-quarters of women interviewed said they were grateful to their mothers for the way they were raised, even if they failed to realise it at the time.

And 67% said the tough times made them the person they were today.

When it came to the perfect mother-daughter relationship, a 25-year age gap was deemed ideal, the study of 2000 women found.

Only one in five, or 22%, believed they should be best friends with their parent and tell each other everything.

Instead, three quarters felt the relationship was best if there was a close bond but some things remained private.

“Parents should be in control and ensure stability, structure and consistency in that structure.

“There should not be a confusion between who the parent is and who the child is,” Rauch said.

For many, periods, sex and contraception were the subjects that fell firmly into the “private” category.

THE top rows between mothers and teenage daughters are over:

1. Tidiness of bedroom;

2. Answering back;

3. Relationship with siblings;

4. Relationships with boys;

5. Staying out too late;

6. The way I dressed;

7. Attitude to school work;

8. Money;

9. Manners, and

10. Use of bad language.

IN AN average year for a teenage girl, the study found:

  • 164 door slams;
  • 183 arguments with mother;
  • 257 arguments with siblings;
  • 153 fall-outs with father;
  • 127 fall-outs with friends;
  • 123 tears over boys;
  • 125 conversations with friends about periods;
  • 306 discussions with friends about boys; and
  • 274 hours on the phone.

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