Mother-daughter relationships can be so good, and so difficult — and sometimes both at the same time! If you’ve ever struggled with yours and wondered how to improve, I have five simple tips for you that I believe will help.
My preteen daughter was coming up the walk. Looking out the window I saw her shoulders sag. Uh Oh, it looks like it’s been a bad day. Steeling myself, I tried to prepare for “who” would walk in the house. (You never know with teenagers!)
Slamming the door, she threw her backpack on the floor, brushed past me and headed for the kitchen. “There’s never anything to eat in this house!” And with a nasty glare at me, she stormed to her room.
So much for a special “mother-daughter after school bonding time,” I sighed.
Mother-daughter relationships, no matter the age of our child, can be tricky. We desperately want to have a good relationship, but often we don’t know what to do or how to do it.
We feel embarrassed because that other mom has a great relationship with her daughter. Her 3-year-old is compliant while ours could be the poster child for beyond strong- willed! Her teen seems respectful and ours just rolls her eyes at parental suggestions. Her adult daughter likes to hang out with her and tells her things and ours seems distant and aloof.
How can you foster strong mother-daughter relationships? At different ages different things are important. Here are five simple tips to strengthen your relationship with your daughter, regardless of her age:
1. Remember: your first priority is to be her parent.
With a young daughter or even teenager, it’s easy to forget that our first priority is to be her parent. Our discipline must be firm and consistent and our love generous and unconditional. Insist on respect. Back-talk should not be permitted, ever. It’s disrespectful and if your child is allowed to get away with this, she will disrespect you as she grows up.
It helps to remember that it’s not nearly as important what your child thinks of you when she is young as it is what she will think of you twenty years from now.
2. Learn what your daughter likes and join in.
One mom has a toddler who loves anything with a ball, so she spends a lot of time throwing balls. Another has a 12 -year- old who loves to cook. They make jam together. A mother-in-law took up photography because her daughter-in-law loved it. It has created a common bond in their friendship. If you have daughters-in-law, ask your sons to tell you some specific ways that you can love them. It may be different than you thought!
3. Reach out to her during the difficult times.
Expect the teen years to be difficult. Reach out to your daughter with a note that says,
“Sweetie, I know you are having a hard time right now. You don’t like your siblings or your parents or even yourself very much at this moment. I understand. I think you are amazing in that you …(fill in specific gifts that you appreciate about her for example: you are compassionate, you have leadership gifts, etc.) I know that we will come through this hard season and one day we will be good friends.”
Leave it on her pillow. Don’t expect any response. That’s unrealistic! But one day you might find that note saved in her desk drawer.
A loving note can be powerful anytime your daughter is struggling or your relationship has hit a rough patch, regardless of her age.
4. Pray for her daily.
Pray for her work or school, her family or friends. Let her know you’re praying for her.
If your daughter is a teen, get to know her friends. Have them in your home. Do all that you can to make your home the “teen center.” You can control what goes on in your own house. Have good food that your daughter likes. Food attracts!
5. Love and serve your own mother and mother-in-law.
Your modeling speaks volumes. You may have a difficult relationship with her. She may have failed you. It can help to look back a generation and realize that your mom did the best she could given what she herself came from. We all mess up.
The good news is that forgiveness can begin the healing process. We must be slow to anger and quick to forgive remembering that “Nothing is impossible for God!” (Luke 1:37)
May God bless all of your mother-daughter relationships!
Many of us adult moms long for approval from our own mothers. Stay tuned for a blog coming soon on this topic!
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