4 Blocks to Building a Lifelong Relationship with Your Daughter
Mother and daughters. What can we say? We have a special bond. One that is defined on many levels. The daughter ever striving to grow up to be like their mom (or NOT be like their mom) and the mom forever seeing herself in her youth reflected in the looks, words, and actions of her “mini-me” daughter, becoming a woman before her very eyes.
And as all this happens, we mother know how important it is to have a good relationship with our daughters. And how important it is that we be a good role model for our daughters. We hope they grow into strong, independent and caring women. Watch them confidently navigate the world, making a happy life for themselves – and hopefully their own little family.
As with all journeys, there are certainly roadblocks and detours along the path from childhood to adulthood and our relationship journey with our daughters is definitely not free of them. (Teenage years anyone?) But these can be enduring, conquers, and overcome, depending upon what you need, but using building blocks to nurture the relationship we have with our daughters to ensure it can withstand the journey.
With the right tools, your relationship with your daughter can last the trials and tribulations of life. No matter whether you have a teenager who you have lost those strong bonds you had hoped for or you are holding a little baby girl in your arms and having a hard time imagine how you two could ever argue about a single thing, it is never too late, or early, to begin growing and enriching your relationship with your daughter.
What relationship really stands a chance without mutual trust? I can’t think of a one. Your daughter has grown up trusting you. You caught her when she tripped many times and have been there when she needed you. She trusts you. She knows, deep down, that your love for her is unconditional. You have earned her trust by being there, following through and loving her.
Does she understand that you have earned her trust? Does she understand how you earned that trust? Explain to her that she needs to take responsibility for earning trust and, once earned, guard that trust dearly because it is a foundational part of your relationship – – any relationship.
I would argue that there are 5 steps to establishing a trusting relationship. As you develop a mutual trust in your mother-daughter relationship, you both must trust each step as important and treat it as such. These steps are:
- follow up
Knowing these, acknowledging them, explaining them, and living them is how you will nurture and enrich your relationship with your daughter, as well as continue to teach her these important foundational relationship steps for her to apply to other important relationships in her life as she gets older.
Remember when that baby came home and you were in tune with her every need? You knew the difference between a hungry cry and an angry cry. You knew when she was sick or when she was just tired. Then we teach them to communicate. Maybe you started with baby signs and got googly excited when she signed “more.”
Then she said her first word and you were elated. You told everyone and couldn’t believe she was talked. Then….well, she didn’t STOP talking. But that’s ok. She’s communicating. Or is she? Communication is defined by Webster’s Dictionary as “an act of transmitting or an exchange of information or opinions.” “More” or “dog” probably isn’t really qualifying is it? To me, “transmitting” would be giving orders. As a military person, this I get. And it’s definitely clear communication. However, I think most of us go with the second half of the definition, “an exchange of information or opinions.” This exchange is the foundation of effective communication.
Your daughter already trusts you and she will embrace your communication skills when delivered in a way that is non-threatening to her own desires. You, as the parent, can teach her the effective ways of communication and provide her with open-minded ways to have a free exchange of information and you can do so without losing your own position of authority as the mother. Communication is a two-way street or a single command. You get to chose how you control the conversation and teach her to do the same.
I know I always need to remind myself to develop and utilize my listening skills and teaching my daughter to do the same is also my job. In developing and enriching a relationship with your daughter, applying effective listening techniques can be key in those preteen and teenage years. Effective listening provides an excellent avenue of insight into your daughter life. She will WANT to tell you things if she knows you are truly listening.
And don’t stop by listening just to her — listen to her friends, her teachers, the kids sitting behind you at the basketball game and in the line at the concession stand. This can give you so much insight into her world. But listening is a skill and must be practiced and improved. Do the listening as the mom but also teach your daughter to listen. This will also be an excellent way to nurture your relationship with your daughter and prepare her for her future relationships.
Um, yeah, I know — what, what?? How much? When? What? It’s hard. How do you know which decisions to let her make, what mistakes you need to sit back and watch her learn from, what ties you need to loosen? It’s so hard as a mother. But you have to allow your daughter to find her own way in the world sometimes all while still knowing when to hold her hand and help her through the trial and tribulations. There will certainly be times when your heart is breaking for her, when you want to step in and fix it, but many times it’s not the best answer. She has to learn some powerful lessons on her own to become the adult you want her to be. And sometimes, you will need to just be there. That is all, but if you have this foundation of a healthy relationship with your daughter, this could be the most important step in her journey.
These 4 building blocks to a great and strong relationship between you and your daughter if the greatest gift you can give her — and yourself. Building and enriching that mother/daughter relationship is one of the most valuable educations you will ever give yourself. Watching her grow from that baby in your arms, to your tea-partying princess, through her torn jeans and first crush, to graduation and college, through the age of independence and venturing off into the world to make it on her own, and maybe even through her starting her own family, your reward is knowing that your job of parenting will transform into a warm and loving adult relationship that you will both treasure forever.
What foundations do you feel are the most important to developing a strong relationship with your daughter? I would love to hear about them.