Linda Gellman Levin holds a dual Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education and in Special Education. In this new exclusive SmartFem column Linda will address your tough questions on the difficult and important job of raising children. askLinda@SmartFem.com
I have problems relating to my teenage daughter, we always seem to be in some type of conflict on a weekly basis. Do you have any advice?
Diane, Scottsdale, AZ
Mother-daughter relationships can be very complex, emotional, and diverse. The culture, religion, and country we are born in can shape our values, attitudes, and beliefs systems. If our mother worked or was a stay-at home mother it can also affect how we role-modeled or shaped our daughters. Each generation and the history of the impact of the Feminist movement, TV, movies, books, newspapers, and magazines impact our body image and sexuality.
Some relationships are very close while others experience hurt, disappointment, poor communication, jealousy, or competition. After conducting workshops on mother/daughter relationships for middle school and high school ages and also being a mother of two daughters, I read and researched some ideas and suggestions from Margarita Tartakovsky M.S. article on 15 Insights On Improving Mother-Daughter Relationships.
Here are some suggestions from myself and other professionals:
- Change yourself rather than your daughter. Change your reactions and responses.
- I feel it’s important to be pro-active versus reactive. Take a time out and think before you speak because you might feel so emotionally charged YOU might react angrily and say something that you will regret.
- Create realistic expectations. Margarita feels that as young children we think a mother will be nurturing and present on a continual basis. This idealistic expectation may not always be present.
- “Make the first move so the relationship does not get stuck,” stated Linda Mittle PHD. She wants you to think about how you feel and what you can do to change.
- I feel that as a working mother, it was important that I apologized to my daughters when I was tired or in a bad mood
- Try to communicate in a constructive manner not destructive. It is so important to share thoughts and feelings in a positive way instead of a harsh or negative tone of voice. Ask open ended questions such as, “Tell me three interesting things you learned in some of your classes,” or ask her how to do something that you never learned in school.
- Become an active listener or empathic listener. COHEN-SANDLER said that when you reflect back what your daughter said, then she is being heard and you understand her and her feelings.
- Try to remember what it is like to be a young girl or teen. Think about what you went through with your appearance, intelligence, body image, school work, sports etc. Although we were raised in a different generation, try to respect and understand her generation but still guide her in a calm and respectful way.
- Use “I” statements about how you feel without attacking her and her character, by saying things like. “I feel hurt when you speak to me in a rude tone of voice,” or “Let’s take a break and re-group and talk later.” Try not to bring up the past and rehash old arguments.
- Respect each other’s boundaries. If you want time to talk, set up a schedule that works for both of you. If you are on the phone, let your daughter know when you can come into her room to talk and vice versa. Do not walk into her room without knocking first. Ask each other if it’s a good time to talk.
Do not bring in third parties like dad or another sibling to work out your issues. Go to a counselor if you need additional guidance.
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