Barb SteinbergGENaustin

What she wishes you knew

Barb Steinberg is a teen life coach and workshop facilitator who transforms the lives of adolescent girls and the adults who care about them. I’m excited to welcome Barb as a guest contributor with a preview of her workshop at the upcoming We Are Girls Conference. To learn more about Barb and her work, please visit

Watching our girls grow up can be bittersweet. We pour our hearts and souls into these little beings and rearrange our worlds for them. We cheer them on when they take their first steps, we dole out hugs and band-aids for skinned knees, and we relish the moments when they hold our hands, even when they don’t have to.

When our daughters hit adolescence, things start to change. Voices may be raised. Eyes may be rolled (although, admittedly, this can happen much earlier). Sighs can become louder and longer. Tensions can run higher.

In my twenty years of working with adolescent girls and the adults in their lives, I often hear parents lament, “Where did my sweet little girl go?”

As challenging a time as it can be for us parents, during adolescence our daughter’s primary developmental task is to separate from us. The brain goes into overdrive, rewiring in a way she has not experienced since she was a toddler. She tries on different identities to see which is right for her. She may experiment, and sometimes makes mistakes. You may feel a widening gulf between the two of you.

If given the chance to be totally honest, what would our daughters tell us about how to better parent them during adolescence? What do they wish we knew? Here are a few things our daughters would share with us:

  • We wish our parents didn’t expect us to be perfect. We want you to trust us to make the right choices and learn from our mistakes. We need time and space to do so. We feel disempowered when our parents take over for us.
  • We wish our parents would respect our need for privacy. One of the ways we are transitioning into being adults is by asking for more privacy. Our rooms are sacred spaces, and so we’d like to ask that you knock before you enter.
  • We wish our parents realized how much we want to fit in. Social media can make it so much easier to feel left out, when friends are posting photos having fun somewhere we weren’t invited.
  • We wish our parents understood that comparing us hurts more than you think. Whenever a parent starts a sentence with “Why can’t you be more like _______ (insert name of perfect best friend or older sibling here)?” teens automatically cringe. Comparing us to others makes us feel bad about ourselves.

These are just a few of the insights I will be sharing during my upcoming What She Wishes You Knew workshop at the We Are Girls Conference hosted by GENaustin. I will be drawing from my experience working with girls and their families as well as the latest research. I hope you can join me! If not, I invite you to join me on the evening of November 7 for a similar workshop in the Barton Hills neighborhood.

Parents, was this list of girls’s wishes surprising? Girls, is there anything you would like to add?

Barb Steinberg, LMSW

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