As with every generation, mothers and daughters share a special bond. Though one is not quite a woman and one, in many ways, is still no longer a girl – they each bear the qualities of each other. Little girls want to grow up fast, and dear sweet moms want to regain their youth. Mothers also know how important it is to be a good role model for their daughters.
So, with only the best of intentions, moms and daughters travel their journeys through life. It is every mother’s hope that their daughter grow to be strong, independent, caring, and giving. A mother’s dream is to enjoy the fruits of her labor (no pun intended) …to know that her daughter is happy, confident, and kind to all. There are many detours and roadblocks along the way, but you can overcome them using these four building blocks to obtain and maintain a relationship with your daughter that will last a lifetime! Because of your efforts in developing this relationship now, not only will you enjoy a close unique friendship with your daughter, you will also pass on to her the wonderful gift of future strong relationships with her own children. Really, what can be more important and rewarding than that? Not much, it ranks right up there at the top!
Life is based on building blocks. Relationships, too, are based on the same. Given the tools, you can build yours strong…strong to last the bumps in the road and the trials of life. A strong foundation provides the anchors to weather any storm. It’s never too late to begin. With each new day comes renewal, forgiveness, and a positive step towards building once again.
BLOCK #1…TRUST. Without trust, any relationship doesn’t stand a chance! Trust often is confused as a “given”. A God given right! As a loving mother, your daughter has grown to trust YOU. She knows you will pick her up when you say you will. She knows that she is cared for and provided for by YOU. Your daughter also knows your love is unconditional and that regardless of her doings, you’ll be there. She might get yelled at, but she TRUSTS you above all. Realize that YOU have earned her trust through word, credibility, and actions.
How about her perception of earning trust? Each young lady must understand that TRUST is earned. The same way YOU earned her trust in YOU! Ask yourself: Why is it that sometimes we feel the need to accredit our children with attributes that should be earned? Our daughters need to understand that trust is patient. The small steps/small rewards process is a journey to gaining their independence. They need to take responsibility for earning the trust, and guarding it dearly, as one of the most valuable aspects of your shared relationship. When you, as her mother, make this important, it becomes important.
There are five steps to establishing trust between a mother and a daughter. Each important and well guarded. They include: HONESTY; AWARENESS; FOLLOW UP; CONSEQUENCE; and finally, PRIVILEGE. Knowing each of them and how to apply these steps to a working relationship is key in maintaining a loving relationship.
BLOCK #2…COMMUNICATION. Funny when our children are born, we seem so in tuned to their needs. We know the difference between a hungry cry and a mad cry. We can sense the slight mood change and worry for hours that there is a cold coming on. As our little girls grow, we teach them to talk. We repeat sounds and clap for joy when they say “ball” and “Mama”. We are elated to know that our little girls are on their way. We pay close attention to all of their needs and kiss them softly and quietly goodnight.
Just because we teach language, an ensemble of “sounds” does not mean we teach communication. Communication as defined by Webster is: an act of transmitting OR an exchange of information or opinions. Think about this, “an act of transmitting” which can mean giving orders, commands, and/or instructions. This of course is necessary at times. It means we mean what we say – and do it! No questions, no discussion. This form of communication is certainly acceptable and appropriate at times. Taking the other side of the definition, “an exchange of information” we understand this to be a form of exploring another’s opinion, thoughts, and logic. This too is very important. As a matter of fact, this is the foundation of effective communication involving two people.
When does it start? As our girls learn their words at the age of 2, they also begin to learn communication skills. These skills are mostly taught by our physical reactions and not our verbal capabilities.
Physical reactions involve the delivery of our words, the tone of our voices, and the actions of our body. It is not about getting through – it’s about logical reasoning and openness to understanding another human being. Since your daughter has already achieved a level of trust in you, she will embrace your skills of communication if delivered in a manner that support her best interests without threatening her own desires. YOU, as the parent, are in control at all times. YOU just need the tools to help educate your daughter on the ways of the world. With these tools and exercises, you are able to begin to lay the strong foundation of open-minded, free exchange of information without losing your position of authority. Remember communication can be a “two way street” or a single command. Your choice, your control.
BLOCK #3…EFFECTIVE LISTENING. Now that we have defined communication, I urge you…don’t spend too much time talking. Teach by actions as well! How? It’s easy…(once you understand how). Spend a lot of time listening!!! Effective listening provides an avenue showing insight into your daughter’s life. There is so much you can learn by listening and observing. Listening not only involves what your daughter says, it involves what others say too. This includes her friends, teachers, enemies and anyone she has contact with. I’m not suggesting you spy or have “reports back”. Just listen – you’ll learn more than you can imagine. Listening is a skill. Creating environments of opportunity is what you want to do. For example…Car pools are painful to be sure, but when you pick up a bunch of her friends, keep the music to a soft level - don’t talk – just listen! The girls will be open with their chatter and you’ll be able to interpret not only the quality of her friendships, but the collective views of the group. This can be very valuable in future conversations you may have with your daughter. It’s also a great way to get to know her friends! Subtle suggestions from your side will have a better impact if you are more informed…remember what you learned regarding communication…Since your daughter has already achieved a level of trust in you, she will embrace your skills of communication if delivered in a manner that support her best interests without threatening her own desires. YOU, as the parent, are in control at all times.
BLOCK #4…LETTING GO. Letting go is the ongoing process we all deal with. When, how, just enough, not too much. Knowing when to allow your daughter to find her way and knowing when to hold her hand and guide her. There will be times when your heart breaks for her, when you want to take her pain, her place, her path – but the same lessons we’ve learned, so too shall they. We realize we can’t (and should not) always shield her from everything. If you think about it, looking back on our own life – some of the most painful situations taught us the most powerful life lessons. Whether that was empathy and compassion for others, or our ability to forgive and move on; whatever crisis we face we have a choice – We can choose to be “bitter or better”. It’s a choice. In being there for your daughter, while letting go you provide the strength she’ll need to stand on her own. Through pain we grow and through growth we become whole. Sometimes there are no words, sometimes silence and solidarity speak louder than any great speech. If you have built upon the three previous blocks, letting go will be a natural process of love. There is no fear where love dwells. Your goal is accomplished – you have the strong foundation for a lifelong, healthy relationship with your daughter.
Being there involves just that…being there as a friend, a parent, a role model, a mother. Learning today how to build and enjoy a mother/daughter relationship is the best gift you will ever give to both yourself and your daughter. This is a gift that can be passed down from generation to generation, building stronger and deeper each time.
Learning about enriching your relationship with your daughter is one of the most valuable educations you will ever do for yourself. The building blocks can show you the way. From beautiful baby girl in your arms, through the turbulent teens, the age of independence and self discovery, to watching her gain total confident independence. Your reward is knowing that your job of parenting has now become your fruit of friendship.