The mother-daughter relationship can be a thing of beauty–or it can be a complicated, conflict-filled, thing of angst. Of course, even a great mother-daughter relationship can have its challenging stages, but what can a mom do to make those the exception?
First, take your cues from your daughter. If she’s an independent sort, lay off the constant advice, especially when she’s an adolescent. If she’s sending signals that she wants your involvement in most aspects of her life, jump right in while still allowing her to take the lead in making her decisions. No matter your daughter’s age, encourage her to see the strengths and joys that come from being a girl, and eventually a woman.
A while back, we did a post about the 10 Rules for Moms of Sons. And because boys and girls do have different inclinations and needs, we felt it was time for a companion piece. Here are the ten most important things you need to know.
1. Accept who she is.
It’s easy to assume that our daughter will be a lot like us and share our interests and passions. That’s not always the case. It’s okay to introduce your daughter to the things you love, but allow her to develop her own preferences, and when she does, accept them. As she gets older, it’s natural for her to want to diverge from your tastes as a way of developing her independence. If her interests appear to be heading in a direction that goes against your family’s values, try not to panic. Be a safe place where she can share her questions. If you shut her down with harshness, she’ll likely explore without you.
As most of us know, daughters crave their mother’s approval. Let her know that you love her for who she is. Here are 38 things accepting mothers say.
2. Build her character.
Nice girls can finish first. Instill the non-gender specific qualities of kindness, empathy, and honesty in your daughter. These will serve her well in all aspects of her life.
3. Develop her strength.
This rule applies to her physical strength, her emotional strength, and her mental strength. Teach your daughter that resilience is a result of working hard to push her way through life’s challenges. Let her know that all women feel weak at some point in their lives. Strength grows as we battle through these times of struggle.
Teach your daughter that resilience is a result of working hard to push her way through life’s challenges.
4. Show her strength.
If you want her to be strong, show her how it’s done. Is your attitude one of persistence or self-pity? Do you throw in the towel or admit that you need help, and get it? Your daughter will learn about handling life’s curveballs by watching you, so do what you can to be a mom worth emulating.
5. Have fun with her.
Replace the pursuit of perfection with the pursuit of fun. Sure, we want our daughters to reach their potential, but let their memories of time with us be made up of laughter and lightness. If you push your daughter so hard that your time together is always aimed at making the most of every opportunity, you might be missing the joys that come with just hanging out and having fun.
6. Eat with her.
Girls who eat with their families have a lower risk of eating disorders. So eat with your daughter and, when you do, eat in such a way that you set a good example of getting full nutrition–not of dieting or eating to lose weight. Our daughters are predisposed genetically, like all people, to a certain body type, don’t let your desire for her to fit a cultural ideal make you panic into getting her “fit” or acceptably thin.
7. Be there for her.
As much as you can, be there for your daughter. If you have to choose between getting your chores done or spending time with your daughter, let the chores go. When she wants to talk, sit down with her and talk. If she’s little and wants to play with you, stop what you’re doing and play with her. When you’re with her, put your phone out of sight.
8. Limit social media.
Following this rule will help your daughter tremendously. The more time a girl spends on social media, the lower her self-esteem. Regularly scroll through her Instagram or Snapchat accounts, if she has them, to see what she’s seeing. Have an agreement with your daughter that you will do what it takes to protect her from the harmful effects of social media–that means having the final say on who she follows, how much time she spends on social media, and what social media she’s allowed to have.
9. Forget about her hair.
It is very easy to see our daughters as a reflection of ourselves, so when we see her with her hair hanging in her eyes or wearing a dress that may not be flattering– our initial reaction might be to offer a critique disguised as assistance, “Let me help you fix your hair. Oh, would you like to wear your new dress instead?”
The more we focus on our daughter’s appearance, the more she will. Let her navigate this area on her own. Our job is to tell her that she’s beautiful on the outside and the inside.
10. Give her faith.
Rule 10 is the rule of all rules. Give her the gift of faith. Ultimately, it is her choice whether or not to accept it, but to send her out into the world without it can leave her vulnerable and untethered. If you need help knowing how to share your faith with your daughter, here are five ways to do it.
Want to help out dad? Share these 10 rules for dads of daughters.
What other rules do you have for raising a daughter and strengthening the mother-daughter relationship?