Your Relationship with Your Daughter
It's not always easy to remember when dealing with an adolescent girl that you are the adult in the relationship. So many mothers want to use their relationship with their daughter to “make up” for something they missed with their own mother or repeat something they loved there that they lose sight of one simple fact: your daughter, and therefore your relationship with her, is unique.
Carol and the Brady girls. That mom on Gilmore Girls. Just about every mother who graced a big screen, leaving aside Mommy Dearest (who did nothing for our image of how mothers appear when they are not quite sane with their girls). Today's moms have been bombarded with images of how to expect their relationship with their daughters to unfold.
Sure, there will be hard times (even Laura Ingalls disagreed with Caroline from time to time), but overall, moms hope to be with their daughter be like two peas in a pod; two beings who share, learn and grow together. What happens on TV or film isn't real, yet it sinks into the public subconscious and plays with personal expectations.
Try to train yourself to let those expectations go. After all, you watched Star Wars and didn't expect a visit from Han Solo. It's no more realistic to expect a perfect relationship with your daughter.
If you look closer at the media — and at the actual actors who play the parts — you'll see more reality. Brooke Shields had a trying-at-best relationship with her mother for a time. Jennifer Aniston is still trying to figure hers out. And Dinah and Lindsay Lohan? That type of situation is addressed in the later section on “trying to be a cool mom.” Instead of looking toward Tinseltown for role models for your relationship, build your own. Expect bumps; be ready for a roller coaster ride. But know it's all for the best.
When she was little, you were like a Goddess. Anything you did — pulling weeds, taking her to playgroups, reading her a book — seemed like the best thing anyone could ever do. Now, she's growing and developing her own ideas, and they aren't always the right ideas. You — if you are doing your job as a mom — have begun to become more of a rule maker.
While she once looked to you for every answer, she may begin to come at you with her own answers — answers you have to strongly correct. From what to wear to where to go to how to act, she sees you as a controller. And in many ways, you are.
The important thing for mothers to realize at this hard time of transition in their mother-daughter relationship is this: somewhere deep down, despite her anger or pushing back, she knows you are the person who loves and protects her.
It's a good idea to have some kind of “positive moment” with your daughter at least once a week. Whether it's out for tea together or a walk, insist on it, no matter how much she pushes back. This will help you (and her) hold onto some of that feeling you crave.
It can be hard — almost heartbreaking — for a mother to transition to the role of enforcer, but in order for a girl to grow up smart, strong, successful, and safe, it's a must. Anyone who watches The Sopranos remembers the year Meadow got caught sneaking out her window and was denied her trip to Aspen the next week.
Meadow seemed to hate her mother for the punishment, but the mother held strong (and kept her tears to herself). She was showing her daughter that when it came to rules for her safety, she meant business, no matter how tough it was. All mothers need to do the same. Your relationship to your daughter should be loving, caring, and most of all, guiding in the right direction, no matter how rough the seas can get.