Building Healthy Mother-Daughter Relationships
Mother-daughter relationships are often complex and surprisingly complicated. During the teenage years, many daughters crave independence and autonomy, they view themselves as almost adults who are ready to make their own decisions. On the other hand, parents still view teenagers as their children. They want to shield their teen from making mistakes and feel that it is still their job as a parent to step in. With a daughter on one end of the spectrum and a mother on the other end, it can feel like too much ground to cover to meet in the middle. But there are ways to protect and build a positive mother-daughter relationship.
At the root of the discourse in many mother-daughter relationships is miscommunication. Parents often believe that they are helping their teen by stepping in and making a choice, but the reality is that this feels stifling to teens which can cause them to pull away even further. What most daughters really want is for their mothers to actually listen. Teens feel more confident that a resolution can be achieved without the negativity of anger from their mom when those mothers are willing to listen and communicate without judgment. When mothers can communicate calmly and without judgment, teen daughters are more willing to open up and share their struggles.
Mother-daughter relationships can also benefit from mothers staying engaged in their daughter’s lives. When your daughter is constantly trying to push you away, it can feel exhausting to try and stay engaged. Sometimes it can feel like an epic battle just to get vague details about their school day or what they did with their friends yesterday. Even with all the pushback, mothers need to stick with it. Set aside some alone time in a low-pressure situation. Something like a car ride gives you time together and is an opportunity to talk without the pressure of sitting down at the table for a big conversation. Ask her to choose the music. Check in about her day. Ask her how her friends are doing. Mothers can show their daughters that they are genuinely interested in their lives and interests. There doesn’t need to be any goals for these talks, just a chance to connect with one another.
“Because I said so”, is a common phrase in the parenting handbook. It’s what most parents fall back on to end an argument when everything else has failed. Parents are the adults in the mother-daughter relationship and while it is important to remain a parent and not try to be a friend, there is value in knowing when you have made a mistake. Daughters who feel misunderstood or wronged in a situation may push harder against boundaries that they feel are unfair. When a mother can look at a situation when she was wrong or made a mistake, and admit it to their daughter, it shows that the rules are not arbitrary. The boundaries are there because you truly believe that it is the best choice to keep her safe and help her continue to grow towards adulthood. The simple act of hearing, “I was wrong” from a parent can be very powerful for a teen. It breaks down the me vs. her mentality. And seeing you model the behavior of acknowledging your own mistakes, shows her how she can take responsibility for her own behaviors as well.
Solstice RTC Can Help
Family therapy interventions are at the heart of our clinical program. We firmly believe in the strong nature and immense importance of family relationships. Research studies on the effectiveness of residential treatment indicate that the most significant factor in creating positive long-term outcomes for the child is parental involvement in the treatment process. Parental involvement is defined not only by the parents being actively involved in the child’s treatment but being actively involved in their own treatment and growth process. For more information please call (866) 278-3345.