Before your first baby was born, you probably pictured yourself being a boy mom or a girl mom. Most of us just felt more equipped to raise either a little girl with dresses and bows or a rough and tumble little boy. Once that baby is born, you realize you are the perfect mom for that child, regardless of pink or blue. As I’ve watched my daughter grow, the importance of a mother-daughter relationship became abundantly clear.
I’ve begun thinking about the future friendship I want with her. I want to be her best friend one day. I know it’s possible because my mother is my best friend. She has held that position for about a decade. Looking back, I see how my mother prepared the foundation for our future friendship, even as she maintained clear parent-child boundaries. Here are 3 simple ways we can start to do the same with our daughters.
1. Create opportunities for regular one-on-one time.
If she is still young, this might be as simple as taking her to the park by herself or treating yourself to tea or coffee with your daughter as your companion. As she grows, let these opportunities grow with her. Trips to the playground might include a long walk and trips to the coffee shop might become a Sunday afternoon ritual. Introduce her to some of your favorite pastimes, be open to trying hers as she discovers them, and consider learning something entirely new together! I plan on teaching my daughter to ice skate when she gets older.
2. Be slow to speak (or to pass judgment) when she speaks.
If you have a toddler or preschooler, this might mean putting down your cell phone or tablet so you can give your daughter your full attention as she babbles to you, whether or not you understand what she is babbling about. As your daughter matures, the importance of a mother-daughter relationship increases, so take advantage of that one-on-one time that you’ve already established. Your teen daughter needs to feel heard and seen more than she needs to have her problems solved.
Your teen daughter needs to feel heard and seen more than she needs to have her problems solved.
Time and practice will help you determine when it’s appropriate to listen and when to speak. But more than anything, refrain from passing judgment until she’s fully expressed herself. Even then, tread lightly. There are some mistakes that should be avoided, and others that she’ll be better off learning from if she chooses to make them.
3. Start traditions early.
It’s important to start traditions early so that as she gets older and might feel tempted to say “no” to such activities, she won’t want to. Have you ever seen a family who does some sweet tradition, like pizza at home together every Friday night? Chances are high they started that a long time before the kids were teens with busy schedules and friends texting them to hang out.
Once a month, my husband takes my son out for the afternoon. This gives me the chance to spend time alone with my daughter. We’ve gone for walks, hung out at the mall, eaten out at restaurants and coffee shops. We plan on maintaining these one-on-one activities as our children grow. If you haven’t already discovered this yourself, most children, grown or otherwise, will never turn down an opportunity for food!
In what ways are you reinforcing the importance of a mother-daughter relationship?