Can you and your daughter relate to this?
At age 11, I was terrified my mother had alzheimer’s. I worried constantly that my father would die of a heart attack. And I obsessed about my 5th grade teacher discovering that I misplaced a class library book.
Your tween daughter worries about a lot of things, too. Perhaps you only notice the moodiness and short temper, but underneath the emotions there is likely a complex web of worry.
And scarier than the thoughts themselves, is the idea of sharing them with anyone. Even with you…her mom.
I never shared my fears with anyone.
I stuffed them in the closet of my mind until I could no longer shut the door at the age of 37.
That’s not what I want for my daughters. And trust me, neither do you.
I’ve now learned the importance of giving voice to the fears in my head (regardless of how irrational) and I model this new-found freedom for my girls. Not only has our relationship grown closer, but they tell me everything! Even the things I’d rather not know:)
You can have a healthy relationship with your tween daughter, too. Here’s how.
- Be honest about your own fears.The trick to this is knowing the threshold your daughter can handle. Start by nonchalantly telling her about a scary dream. Make a point of including the feelings in your body when you woke up and how it felt so very real.Your daughter needs to know that you understand fear. That you struggle with it, too. Sharing a bit of your own worries will allow her open up about hers.
- Listen. Don’t try to fix her. When your daughter does talk about her anxiety, resist the urge to fix it right away. Instead, be comforting. Give her a gentle hug. Often, words aren’t even necessary. Simply tell her that you are glad she shared. Let her know that you love her and that you are always there for her. Don’t minimize or dismiss her fears. The goal is to keep her talking, not make her feel guilty that her worries don’t make sense (and often they don’t).Verbalizing a fear is difficult. Reassure your daughter by your actions and your body language (open and intent) that you won’t over-react.
- Notice the best time of day to share. My daughters are most willing to talk right after school and immediately before bed. Watch for the times your girl is most chatty and be intentional about clearing your schedule to be available (in your heart and in your head) during those times.That means putting down the phone, looking into her beautiful eyes, and giving her your full attention.
The connection between mother and daughter deserves our attention.
As our daughters get older, their struggles and worries get bigger. Cultivating a habit of open communication is one of the most valuable gifts you’ll ever give.
I became the mom that my daughters needed only after experiencing a physical and emotional breakdown. Thankfully, you don’t need a traumatic event to foster love and connection with your tween.
To help you, I wrote this 60 Second Guide to Building Trust with Your Daughter.
By the way, my mom and dad are alive and well. My 5th grade teacher DID realize the book was gone, but I never confessed to being the culprit.
And I ended up being ok. So will your daughter! But the journey is so much better when you walk it side by side.
Landing gently in your inbox to give you HOPE.