When we see our children in distress, we want answers and solutions right away. It’s normal: no one wants to see their daughter suffer, and we want her restored right away to the cheerful, bright person she was before. However, while this is normal, it also is a recipe for frustration. It is important to set realistic goals and temper expectations. Many girls are working their way through difficult times and challenges, and some through illness and trauma. There are a few watchwords to help embrace along the journey, and they more helpful to healing more than fixating upon the destination.

Patience — This is the obvious one. Patience is required from the teen girl, her family, support group and peers. Progress may seem agonizingly slow, particularly at first. Realize that this can be a long journey, and there will be false starts, missteps and setbacks along the way. Approaching it with this attitude will create the optimal environment for healing and growth, both for your child and yourself.

Acceptance — Each teen girl is different: different talents and gifts, different challenges and issues. No two people process the same and no two people respond to treatment or counseling the same. Accept your girl as an individual: don’t compare or contrast her to others, ease off creating a pressurized environment of attainment. Accept her growing at her own pace; it is the best way for her to grow into the special young adult you know she can be.

Listen — What are her goals? Listen to your teen. She has dreams, expectations for herself and things she wants to do, as well as things that intimidate her. Allow her to open up, both about where she’s been and about where she hopes to go. This is invaluable: even for all the turmoil and turbulence that likely has marred her life as late, it is paramount that your teen has some sense of her path and sets her own goals along the way.

So much of what will follow is a collaboration, that it’s important everyone involved set these realistic, attainable goals. Patience, acceptance and listening will ground everyone in the manageable reality of where they are now, as well as where everyone would like to be. This is a journey that can be incredibly rewarding, and one that only requires a gentle and realistic approach to travel smoothly onwards.