My mother always told me, “When you have a daughter you are giving birth to your best friend.” As I grew older and had a daughter of my own, that statement began to really ring true for me. You may be reading this and thinking Why don’t I feel like that? or Why do I and my teenage daughter constantly argue?
Do not misunderstand me, raising a teenage daughter is a lot of work. Through the years, we have had many battles and many wars. Some I have won, and some I have definitely lost: arguments over friends, boyfriends, clothing that shows too much skin, curfews and school work. I remember walking away from arguments and feeling like she hates me and I am a failure as mother. But those will probably be the times that she remembers the most. Those are the turning points in her life that I helped her to grow, develop, and learn to cope with different situations in her life.
It is important to be a parent, not a friend, and to give boundaries to our daughters as we help to mold them into independent, self-assured women. It is then, when they are old enough and have become their own person, that your daughter can become your best friend.
As a mom raising a teenage daughter, I am compelled to want to fix her problems. When she is broken hearted, my heart aches; when she is mad at her friends, I feel mad too. These are the times I share my experiences with her and reassure her that all will be alright in time.
At seventeen years old, I remember thinking that my mom had no clue what I was going through and that she could not possibly “get” it. As a woman and a daughter, I know that it couldn’t be further from the truth. Moms absolutely get it. We have lived it, even though our daughters just cannot see us as teenagers.
Navigating through the teenage years is when keeping the lines of communication open is most important. I have learned that listening without putting my worry and fear into the mix gives my daughter the assurance that she needs in order to trust me. There are things I don’t care to know, as well as things that I have to make sure she knows, such as safe sex, being careful about experimenting with drugs, understanding that saying NO to a boy is O.K., and if she feels threatened there is always someone to reach out to. The following are some tips that can help you.
Here are some tips when talking with your teenage daughter:
- Start Early. I have always talked to my daughter about things that are happening in her life at the time. If you start honest conversations early in the relationship, you’ll build trust.
- Be Honest. Depending on your daughters age, share insights and experiences that are age-appropriate. As girls enter their teenage years, be smart about what you share. Remember there is a line between being a mom and being a friend. You can share your honest experiences without all the gritty details.
- Set Limits. Your teenage age daughter might not appreciate a strict curfew or doing chores around the house, but remember, you’re the parent and it’s okay to be “uncool.” Your daughter will eventually appreciate knowing you care enough to set rules and boundaries.
- Talk, Talk, Talk. I sometimes hear myself talking about a situation my daughter is going through long after she has tuned me out. Take the hint. It’s alright for your teenager to work things through on her own or with her friends. Don’t take it personally.
- Finding a Common Ground. As moms we are prone to fix family problems and devise solutions. Avoid being the fixer to all of your daughter’s problems. Allow her to talk it through while you listen. Be supportive and let her know you are right there beside her if she needs you.
Giving birth to your best friend is not easy. The ride is filled with frustration, heartache and fierce love. I like to think of it as a rollercoaster ride. There are highs and lows. But when the ride is over you are so happy that you went on. I look at her when she doesn’t know and my heart bursts with love I created this young women who has everything to look forward to in her upcoming years. I am sure that I gave birth to my best friend.
Besides being a mother of a teenaged daughter, I have been a teacher for over 25 years. I am passionate about working with children and their families to help them pave the ways to open communication and healthy relationships which led me to further my education in Family Therapy. I am currently a Registered Marriage and Family Therapist Intern in private practice at the Counseling and Wellness Center of South Florida.