Be there for her and make certain she knows how loved she is. Tell her everyday. Give her everything you would have ever wanted but didn’t have growing up. Keep her active: ballet, tap, gymnastics, piano lessons, t-ball, softball, soccer, Girl Scouts. Take part wherever you can so that she sees just how important she is to you. Get involved in her school–hell–become a classroom mom and volunteer in the PTO. Why not become president? Don’t forget that playdates are important; you want her to be socially adjusted.
Emphasize the importance of family, especially grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. Allow her to spend time with her grandparents so that she will always have memories of them when they are gone.
Bring her up in the church. Let her see first hand the power and beauty of faith. Of course, make sure she knows she is a blessing to you and your family. Set an example by volunteering at church events–and why not teach CCD while you’re at it? What better example of showing her how important it is to share talents and faith. At this point, she should be ready for some volunteer work of her own. Encourage her to volunteer at the local hospital several times a week.
Don’t forget to always remind her how smart she is–her grades are good, but she needs you to reinforce it. Let her know how beautiful she is, especially during those adolescent years when she feels awkward in her body. A word of caution here, you want to help build her self-esteem, but you don’t want to overly emphasize outward appearances. Character is so much more important.
When she struggles with relationships with other girls, try to let her work it out. After all, these are important life skills. Be there for her when she cries and feels slighted by the others, and try not to cry in front of her when she is so distraught because she didn’t make the middle school cheerleading squad. If she is snippy with you during adolescence, be patient–growing up is not easy–she’ll outgrow this stage. Believe fully that she absorbed all the morals you have worked so hard to teach her!
When she is having emotional problems, get her into counseling immediately. If she can’t resolve her issues by talking with you, then you must get her professional help. And dear GOD, when you discover that she has been cutting, you must allow her to do so “safely” until she can work things out.
Most important: when she brings home the sketchy boyfriend DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT object to him as you will only drive them closer together. Know in your heart that this too shall pass. However, when he is arrested (for stealing) it’s time to draw the line. Clearly she understands that this speaks to his character. She’ll have a fit, tell you that you are unfair and judgmental, but you know that she’ll get over it when the dust settles.
When she sneaks out with him a few times, call the police–he is over 18 and she is only 17. They will bring her back, for now, but they will remind you that she turns 18 next month and then they won’t be able to help you. Or her.