Raising Daughters: Tips for Improving the Mother-Daughter Relationship

Raising girls who feel valued in a society that portrays the feminine in less than desirable terms can be a real challenge. These tips are great reminders and relationship builders for mother-daughter couples, though with a little healthy foresight they can also be used successfully by fathers:

1. Keep communication open and fluid

Communication is such an important piece in building any relationship and is critical to the parent-child relationship. Despite this, when my daughter was in that pre-adolescent stage she started to walk away and act like someone I didn’t like. I really believed that she was the problem and a part of me even swallowed the idea that this stage was inevitable. As we got further apart, I realized that I was giving in to a social belief about preteen girls and was not following my heart.

I made an appointment with my daughter who rolled her eyes so we could sit down and have a very open heart. I told her that I had never been the mother of a preteen girl before and that I really didn’t know what I was doing most of the time. I found that I was at least half the problem (correcting her, giving her chores when she walked into the room, sharing unsolicited advice) and that what she really needed from me was acceptance, information, and honest communication. That day I switched from mother to mentor and what a difference it has made.

To help with these moments of ‘open discussion’, it can be helpful to establish a girls’ club where no topic is off limits and no repercussions are experienced from what is shared. This gives your daughter a chance to check out what her friends are saying, gain access to her wealth of knowledge (without a lecture), and gives her a chance to discover that she doesn’t really know all the answers.

Sharing your experiences with your daughter does not ‘plant ideas’ or give her permission to make the same mistakes you made; it simply opens the door to trust and openness between you.

two. Talk freely about negative stereotypes.

Talk openly about how women are depicted in movies, magazines, billboards, etc. increases connection, self-awareness and opens the door to great discussions.

One activity you can do with your daughter is to look at magazines and talk about who looks happy, who looks real, speculate about why she is not happy, etc. When my daughter and I had these conversations, it led to a discussion about her Bratz dolls, teen behaviors at shows, and of course, Barbie.

Dove offers some videos on the distances media can go – removing blemishes, changing hair, altering facial features, and even lengthening the neck – in an effort to create natural beauty! This prepares women to live for an unattainable version of beauty as if it were physically possible. Talking to your daughter about this can prevent eating disorders, self-esteem issues, and make her the go-to person for important information.

Another great topic to discuss is the Divine Feminine and how this beautiful energy, required by all of us to live balanced lives, has been downplayed and portrayed as weak and undesirable.

You can search for information on this topic together and enjoy the beautiful and positive impact it can have on both of your lives. Simply put, the Divine Feminine is what enables us to gracefully receive, connect with others, fully embrace pleasure, and be loving to others. It is a huge subject and worth learning more about.

3. Focus on loving and accepting your daughter for who she is

When you love someone unconditionally, you accept who they are even when they are not behaving exactly as you would like. You will not always agree with your daughter, and at times you may not really like the way she is behaving. As his father, it is always within his right to set limits and provide guidance. Just do this while still accepting and loving your daughter for who she is.

Acknowledge your very real responses to your daughter as she goes through different stages. When you don’t like the way he’s behaving, ask yourself: is this a safety issue or a moral threat? If so, push your limits without attacking her as a person and stick with your decision. If not (which is often the case), allow him the space to be who he is, make your own mistakes, and experience the consequences.

You will not always like or relate to the way he is behaving or the decisions he is making, but you can allow him the space to fully live his experience without fear of rejection or ridicule from his strongest support.

Put your energy into focusing on what you have in common and enjoy those things together. Organize a spa day, either at a spa or in your own home. Enjoy face masks, hair treatments, body scrubs, pedicures, all of which can be done on a very limited budget. Go for a walk, play a game, bake, or prepare a meal together. Find what you will both voluntarily participate in and make it happen.

Take this time to talk with your daughter about what is happening in her world and share some of the stories you remember from that time in her life. This is not an interrogation or a lecture, but an opportunity to really connect and build something special.

When you spend time with your daughter and keep communication open and fluid, you will find that your relationship thrives rather than splitting up at a time when you really want your guidance to be effective.

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