I recently came across one of the most appropriate illustrations I’ve ever heard regarding emotions: They’re like wild horses. Just think of all the similarities:
• They’re unpredictable.
• They’re not evil.
• They’re beautiful, in a way.
• They can be ruinous to an unskilled rider.
• They need to be tamed.
For your daughter, entering puberty can feel like the quarter-operated mechanical horse ride at Chuck-E-Cheese® suddenly became a wild and spirited mustang. With no warning, this sudden change in emotional intensity can be frightening to her. She needs her parents to prepare her for it and guide her through it, helping her learn to control her emotions so she can arrive safely at her destination.
Of course, wild emotions aren’t just for girls or prompted only by adolescent hormones. We deal with their attempts to control us long before that first period and will probably not stop struggling with them entirely until we’re with our Savior. But many aspects of adolescent development contribute to the fact that teens, and particularly teen girls, struggle greatly with their emotions during this time of physiological transitions. While everyone has different struggles, the monthly cycle typically brings emotional highs and lows for young women. Just as you don’t want her to be shocked when she begins her first period, you don’t want her to face unfamiliar dark emotions without warning. Let her know what’s probably coming.
Your daughter needs more than simply to know that emotional changes are coming. She needs to be prepared to reign them in and react in a way that demonstrates the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22).
Be open with her about your own struggles, and let her know that while she might not be able to control her feelings, she can learn to deal with them productively. Just like a novice rider, she may be clumsy about it at first, but she can become a Rodeo Queen in time.
The key is not to “follow your heart” but to fill your mind with Truth and meditate on God’s Word and His Truths (Phi. 4:8). A helpful study on this topic is Lies Young Women Believe, co-authored by Dannah Gresh and Nancy Leigh DeMoss.
Those crazy emotions don’t deserve celebration, do they? If we’re talking about the ones tied to life changes, puberty, and growing up, you bet they do! Instead of falling into the trap of cursing Eve and complaining with your daughter about these ups and downs she’s facing, you can help her through this time by putting a positive spin on her experiences. Puberty is the way that God’s preparing her body to be a mom, someday, after all, and isn’t that one of the greatest blessings God has given you?