Me and My Mom
The has been much said in the media lately about mothers and daughters being BFF's. Articles and blog posts boasting about how moms and daughters share everything together, have no boundaries and are Best Friends Forever. Boasting like it is what we should all be striving for with our girls.
Given that my husband and I have three girls (with one on the way :), this subject is personal to me, and I couldn't disagree more with the "we should be BFF mentality." Not to mention, I have read enough and studied enough to know that this is not the type of relationship we should be trying to develop with our girls.
Instead of worrying about and striving to be their Best Friend, we need to be worrying and striving to be their BEST PARENT.The amazing thing is that by being their Best Mother, we will actually develop a friendship along the way. Yes, a friendship will be the natural byproduct of our energy and effort to be the best parent to our girls that we can be.
So how can we do that? What can we do to create a strong relationship with our daughters?
We need to put our love into action.
What does that mean to put our love into action?
There needs to be rules and consequences. We also need boundaries concerning what we share with our daughters. We can tell them too much, and that is not good. They do not have the emotional capacity to handle adult problems. Boundaries put us in charge. It doesn’t mean our daughters don’t have a say or can’t express an opinion. But it does mean we are still the parents who are in charge. And remember, boundaries build respect for one another also.
Always Encourage, Encourage, Encourage
There is an old analogy that has been floating around for years, that our children are like plants. Plants are programmed to grow and blossom and bloom. When the leaves start to wilt, we give the plant more water, light and fertilizer. We wouldn’t think to yell at, or criticize our plants to help them grow. It wouldn’t work.
It is the same with our daughters (and sons). Criticism and negative comments are not going to help them grow. They need our encouragement to see themselves as great people who are capable of great things. They need to know that we are on their side. If we are constantly criticizing, correcting and point out all that they do wrong, they won’t feel good about themselves, they won’t grow. We should always be their biggest fan and their ally. Even when they make wrong choices.
Make time together a priority.
If we want a strong relationship with our daughters we have to spend time with them. We can’t expect to spend time once a year, and have them automatically open up to us. We need quantity and quality. In fact, we might even need the quantity first.
Think about a relationship with your spouse. If the two of you only spend time together once a year, or even once a month, you wouldn't feel comfortable opening up and sharing your feelings or thoughts with them. It is the same with our daughters. We need to spend time together regularly so that we have a relationship established that makes our daughters feel comfortable opening up. We have to make time together a regular priority.
Listen for better communication
Do we listen to the silly stories about what happened on the playground? If our kids don’t feel like we will listen to the little things then why would they ever open up to tell us about the big things. They won’t. We have to give them our attention and respect and listen when they talk. Not listening means we miss an opportunity to learn more about our daughters AND it means that our daughters will stop talking to us.
Trust is build every single day through our interactions. Without that trust, we don’t have strong healthy relationships. We earn our children’s trust by following through with our word, not breaking a confidence and being there to pick them up on time. Remember that strong relationships are built on every single interaction we have with our daughters. Running errands together, doing their hair, working around the house together, everything. It doesn’t have to be monumental interactions.
Do things together
What is your daughter interested in? What does she like to do? Can you find things you like to do together? Do those things together! Doing things together breaks down barriers and puts us on common ground. It allows us to communicate with one another, build memories, and helps us realize that we are more alike then we might think. This is especially helpful during the teenage years.
Going along with this, we need to care about what our daughters care about. For example, our oldest daughter loves American Girl Dolls. I didn’t grow up playing with them, and don’t really care about them too much. But she does, so now I do! I look through the magazines and research all about them so I can support her conversations and participate in playing with them together.
Time to let go of the mentality that we need to be BFF's with our daughters. That should not be our goal. Strive to be the Best Parent and we will naturally be friends with our girls too! We will develop the type of relationship that lasts through the years.