Connecting with Your Teen Daughter

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Connecting with Your Teen Daughter

By Susan Fox

I am not parenting expert that is for sure. But I thought I’d like to share with you one of the places where I am in my mom journey. And that is the place of being a mom of 2 teenage daughters. God help me, and I don’t mean that flippantly. I sure do need it. I won’t be voted mother of the year for sure, but I really have been trying to improve in a couple of areas. One of them is just communicating and connecting. And not being too busy to do that.

I’ve been periodically taking my daughters out to lunch or to Starbucks after school. Something about a coffee shop just puts everyone in a relaxed mood. It may seem difficult to talk to a teenager sometimes, but it is well worth the effort. One of the most important things that I have learned about teenagers is that you cannot ask yes or no questions! This will get you nowhere fast and is terribly uncomfortable. So this requires a little more thought. I have one daughter who doesn’t talk a lot and seldom shares information about school or friends. But I have few tricks up my sleeve. Try to open up the conversation with something that is not confrontational…Don’t use this precious time to gripe at her about doing her homework or chores. Use this time to enjoy being with her as a person. One way to start is to ask her opinion. Teenagers have lots of opinions and they don’t often get the chance to share them with adults, but they like to. Even though they still seem immature at times they like adult conversation. It is surprising to hear her response sometimes when I bring up something that happened in the news. With teenagers on the computer as much as they are, they hear about everything. You can say “did you see the story about/ or what did you think about __” . Another non-threatening conversation starter is to ask for their ideas on what to do for your next family vacation or holiday that is a fun conversation where you get to dream together. Or ask what her plans are for the upcoming weekend. This is helpful to know, as moms always need more information. They also appreciate your interest in their friends. You might ask about some of her friends by name, and ask how they are doing. Ask her how she is feeling about school… is she stressed out? I find it helpful to empathize with my daughter by saying something like “I know it must be hard, having to get up so early every day.” Or” I’m sorry you have so much homework this week.” Empathy helps us to be able to let our guard down. And what girl doesn’t need a little more empathy from her mother.

As I mentioned, my one daughter is not an open book, nor a chatter box, like some girls. But I have discovered that if she has a friend or two come over after school and I make snacks for them in the kitchen I get to listen in on all kinds of great conversation, and find out interesting things that I would not have otherwise known. You see, even if my daughter doesn’t openly share about school and friends her girlfriends do plenty of talking for her and she usually joins in too. I get a little sneak peek into her world as I quietly make them snacks. So I make a point of every once in a while saying to her “hey why don’t you invite so and so after school and I’ll bake cookies for you” It’s a perfect set up!

And don’t forget that she needs your encouragement and affirmation. Try to think of things that you can compliment her on, like doing well in school or a sport or music or whatever it is that your teen is successful in. Make an effort to acknowledge when they do something nice or thoughtful at home or for a sibling. Take an interest in something they are interested in, whether it is a sport or drama or music. Make sure to attend events, contests or concerts. Let them know that you support them and think they do a great job. Recently I bought a copy of the same book that my daughter was reading, just so that I could have something to talk to her about.

An important thing to remember about mothers and daughters is that when our daughters share with us their thoughts and feelings it is a privilege. It is our duty to honor that privilege by keeping her confidences. These are not the things to get on the phone with your best friend about. Imagine if she were to ever overhear you repeating something that she shared with you. Even if it is something that seems silly or lighthearted to you it may not feel that way to her. You will do damage to your relationship and it may take a very long time for your daughter to ever trust you again.

I encourage you to schedule time to be with your daughter or daughters this week. As a teenager she is fast becoming a woman who will fly away soon. I’m speaking to myself here. I feel the clock ticking. I want to know her. I want to be there for her. I want her to know she is important to me and that I like being around her. The dirty floors can wait…..I’m doing coffee with my daughter.

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