Parents of adolescent girls often worry that they are losing their connection with their daughter, that their daughter hates them, and that they won’t remain an influence in her life. Their relationship may have digressed to mostly arguments, yelling, or girls shutting down and no longer sharing. Despite the normal developmental need for girls to become more independent and self-reliant, they also need strong ties with parents. Good research has shown over and over that having a supportive adult in their corner who loves and guides them is perhaps the most important protective factor for keeping girls on track. The following are 7 ways to get your daughter to not hate you and more importantly, to allow you to remain an influence in her life throughout the teen years and beyond.
Be fully present
- Be there: Girls need to know that you are available when they need you. This means being fully present when you are with them. Too many parents today are distracted with phones, work, or worries. If girls sense that their parents are stressed and overwhelmed, they tend to shy away from sharing their own problems for fear of putting parents over the edge. Take care of your own issues and be fully present.
- Hear her: Listen to your daughter without interrupting, judging, or trying to fix her. Leave your own emotions at the door so that they don’t unintentionally get mixed in with hers and cause her to become emotionally overloaded. She has enough stuff on her plate to deal with without adding yours to the mix.
Share your stories Relate with her:
3. Relate with her: Get in her shoes and see issues from her point of view. That allows you to be able to understand and empathize. Sharing your own related stories lets her know that you get her and really do understand.
4. Respect her: Don’t yell, criticize, spank, or compare her. Respect her opinions even if you don’t agree. Apologize when you make mistakes. Allow her to make appropriate decisions for herself and give her as much say-so and autonomy as possible.
5. See her and accept her: Value who she is even if she is different than you, her family, or her peers. Never dismiss or minimize her feelings even if you can’t relate. Value passion where you see it with her even if it goes against the grain or isn’t valued by the culture. Don’t allow other’s negative judgments of your daughter’s manner to cause you to be embarrassed or to try to change her. Love her as she is.
6. Free her: Starting in early childhood, begin the process of letting go and giving her the freedom she deserves and craves. Teach her how she can show you that she is ready for or has earned the next privileges. If you let go all along the way, the big step-off at age 18 won’t be a big deal for either of you.
Remain an influence throughout the teen years and beyond
7. Love her: The best way to love her is to provide the six items above to your parenting toolbox. Being fully present, listening, respecting her, empathizing and relating with her, sharing your stories, accepting her for who she is, and giving her autonomy and appropriate ways to be powerful are all ways to add deposits into the goodwill account you have with her. Adolescence doesn’t have to be a time where girl’s pull away and completely shut parents out. What you need most of all to remain an influence in your daughter’s life is a full goodwill account that earns you a close, trusting relationship with her.
For more information on making sure you remain an influence in your daughter’s life, check out Dr. Jordan’s new online course, Parenting girls: The challenges girls face today with their feelings and friends and what they need. The course launches October 19, 2020