Having a daughter is such a joy. You have someone to go shopping with, share popcorn with while bonding over your favorite shows, or even play dress up and have tea parties. It’s just great to have that little girl to do the mother-daughter bonding with. Right?
So how do we keep the relationship healthy with our daughters?
How do we keep the relationship with our daughters that is full of love and not with conditions to love?
How do we keep the relationship with our daughters that allows us to still have fun but keep you as the parent.
1. Be okay with saying no. Parent guilt is real. However there are just too many Lifetime movies where the mom’s have difficulities with setting boundaries with their daughters and the storyline goes dark. We may even know some moms that have anxiety and have difficulty with setting boundaries including saying no. I will admit as a mom myself it is hard especially when your daughter turns on the guilt trip or when the defiance steps in. However it is very important to set boundaries and be okay with saying no. It is not the end of the world…trust me.
2. Encourage communication without appearing like a friend. Instead appear like the caring mother that you are. Communication is very important when it comes to a relationship between a mother and daughter. The way we communicate with our daughters can establish a healthy foundation for the relationship. We want to focus on the positive. I like the sandwich concept. If there is something that needs to be discussed that is not so good try to cushion it with two positives. I have women come in all the time that says that they never heard anything positive from their mother. This turns into negative self thoughts or self critical thinking if this is not addressed. This opens up your daughter to some challenges as a grown woman. I asked a teenage girl about her communication with her mother and she stated that although she and her mom speaks regularly and have a good relationship the thing she remembers the most that she can be doubtful which leads her to feel doubtful about her own abilities. So the moral of the story is that people will remember the negatives most if that is all they hear is negative, criticizing, and discouraging words verses constructive criticism that also shines on the postive.
3. Don’t get overly involved in your daughter’s social life…you’re not her peer. Having a daughter can be so much fun especially when you are able to go shopping together and hang out. Hang out as mother and daughter and not friends. Yes know who your daughter’s friends are but you do not become one of her friends. In other words you do not need to hang out at the mall with your daughter and her friends and speak like they do and be up on every girl gossip. This creates some muddy waters and the boundaries begin to disappear quickly when you have to step in parent role. If this is about spending time with your daughter than by all means find something you and your daughter like to do that still provides room for you to be a mother and for her to be a daughter…not equals.
4. You don’t have to be your mother! Many of us had mothers that had their own challenges and as their daughter we may have had to experience the effects of their challenges. This can lead you to take on some of the same characteristics (controlling, lack of boundaries, critical, anxious, perfectionism, etc. ). Often times because this has been the norm you may not be aware of how your actions and words can affect the relationship you have with your daughter and yourself. Therefore it is very important to do some self check and some self reflection to evaluate the relationship you had with your own mother and explore where there were challenges. Assess to see if these same challenges occur with you and your daughter and seek out therapy to make some changes. You don’t have to be your mother. You don’t have to repeat the same cycles that lead you to be anxious, critical, controlling, or over compensating. Instead you can create an environment that is loving, nurturing, motivating, encouraging, fun, and leaves room for your daughter to have autonomy and growth.
The best thing about building a healthy mother daughter relationship is that you get to see your daughter blossom into a wonderful young lady who will look back on her relationship with her mother as a guide for how relationships with other women should be.
If you and your daughter are struggling to have a healthy relationship I can help. Contact me at email@example.com for therapy or relationship coaching.