As mothers, we cannot separate our journey from that of our daughters by not engaging them in all areas of our life. That means the good, the bad and sometimes the ugly truth. So how can you keep the connection strong and the lines of communication open with your tween or teenage daughter? You can begin by doing two things and doing them often.
- Begin a conversation with these words, “I would like you to know…” and from there, tell her a story about your past, present or future.
- Ask her the question, “Is there anything you would like to ask me?”
At first, it might be strained or uncomfortable for either one of you, so ensure that you’ve created a space and atmosphere for the conversation to naturally flow. Moreover, if you do not experience a breakthrough (i.e. your daughter doesn’t open up), don’t give up. You may need to try this many times in your mother/daughter relationship.
Once you’re engaged, you will continually build a foundation of trust and respect, centered around truth. And here is the truth of the matter:
Share the Truth
Evaluate the maturity of your daughter prior to engaging in details about your journey that may be too personal or detrimental to her psychological capacity. Once you have determined this, you will need to get to a place where you can proclaim, “I promise to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. So help me God.”
Sharing your story and your journey with your daughter is vital to her emotional and psychological growth. However, I’ve found that sometimes when we share our story, we might be tempted to tell only the parts that make us look and feel good or even perhaps only what paints us as the victim, because we either want her sympathy or we’re seeking her approval.
For the most part, we have good intentions. We don’t want our daughter to make the same mistakes, or have the same negative experiences we did. We might share our good decisions that we made and emphasize that she does the same.
But no matter what we share with her, we must remember to tell her the real truth, no matter how painful it may be to relive. We must become vulnerable to the point that we penetrate the lesson learned, so that she grasps the notion that while she may make mistakes, they are not the end of her road.
If you don’t share the whole truth of the matter, you risk your daughter possibly resenting you or displaying distrust, especially if she finds out the truth.
Expose Her to the Truth
Chances are we’re already on the path that was designed for us. It wasn’t always easy to stay focused, disciplined and determined. But with the help of supporters, resources and God, we made it to this point.
Our daughter’s path has not yet been completed, much less mapped out. Her possibilities are endless. The future belongs to her dreams. What role do we as mothers play in ensuring that she’s on the right path to fulfill the destiny that is laid out for her? We are sometimes inadequate to give her everything she needs. And for this, I am speaking emotionally, psychologically and sometimes even physically. But whatever we do, we must expose her to the truth of her potential. Not the truth of her surroundings. Not the truth of our potential. Not what we wished we would have done. But the potential that is in her DNA to accomplish.
How is this done? By paying attention to her interests and innate gifts and ensuring that we do all that we can in our power to expose her to what is possible within her. If that means taking her places we’ve never been, showing her things we’ve never seen, then so be it. Remember, you are her escort into womanhood.
Hear her Truth
To hear the truth about how someone really feels about us, our journey, our stories, our failures and mistakes, takes a lot of courage and boldness, especially when that someone is our very own daughter. Quite possibly, we might be looking into a mirror, as we look into the eyes of our daughter. And in many cases, she is our reflection. But no matter how hard it is, we must look at her anyway. When she opens up and communicates her reaction with a response, we must listen intently. Only then can we see the spots in the “mirror,” that we must daily maintain.
The fear is that she will look at us differently because quite honestly, everyone is not going to agree with or understand all of our decisions. The fear is that she may use our mistakes or shortcomings against us because the more vulnerable you are, the more you open up yourself to disappointment and hurt. The fear is that she will distance herself from us, if she deems us entirely too different from her.
In spite of the fears, in spite of the emotions they conjure up, we must let her speak, let her express, let her communicate. In doing so, in hearing her truth, we will rest in knowing that we gave her an opportunity to be heard. Being heard in a space that is both loving and safe is one of the greatest gifts we can give our daughters. Letting her know that her voice and feelings have worth is a recipe for boldness in other areas of her life.
Michelle Collins is the designer of MomSuite, an accountability village and empowering lifestyle community for women and mothers of daughters. A wife and mother of three, she is Author of “30 Ways in 30 Days to Be That Mom”, a journal-style inspiration, motivating moms to be whole + parent well. You can follow her on Twitter.