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Helpful Tips To Soften Your Mother-Daughter Relationship
Listen Way More Than You Lecture
It’s so tempting. The minute your daughter wakes up in the morning or walks in the door after school you start reminding her about the family gathering next week, lecturing her about how she promised she’d clean her room and it’s still a disaster and how she, once again, left wet towels on the bathroom floor.
But heads up, if every interaction with your daughter involves lecturing, constant reminders or, worse, nagging, what’s your daughter’s incentive to talk to you?
Communication between you and your daughter needs a drastic overhaul now that’s she’s a teenager. She’s growing up and becoming independent. She doesn’t want to feel quite so “managed” the way she did when she was younger and she’s not interested in having you fix her problems or you offering her mounds of parental advice. She merely wants you to listen. Give her the opportunity to feel truly heard. (Once she feels she can talk to you and be heard, you might be surprised to find she actually starts picking up those wet towels on the floor.)
Put Yourself in Her Shoes
Teenage girls can be fickle. One minute they’re smiling and life is good, the next they’re blaming us for ruining their life. And, for the most part, they simply can’t help it. Being a teenager is hard.
To truly understand what’s going on in your daughter’s head and close the chasm that may be keeping you from enjoying a meaningful relationship, you have to put yourself in her shoes. You have to remember what it’s like to be a teenager. You have to step into her world. And, you have to try to understand her daily struggles – even if they seem insignificant and trivial to you – trust me, they matter to her.
Mostly, you have to remember that her body and brain are under major construction. So much of her moodiness, unpredictable behavior and “offishness” are just as confusing to her as they are to you. Take comfort in knowing it will all eventually subside. In the meantime, just hang on for the bumpy ride.
Pick Your Battles
My oldest daughter decided a few years ago that she wanted to get her belly button pierced (I know… painful, right?). Even though I thought they actually looked cute on other girls, I surely didn’t want my daughter to get one. And, that’s where the battle began. After a few weeks of back and forth debate and conflict, I finally came to the conclusion that it simply didn’t matter in the long run.
When you’re a parent of a teenage girl, you have to pick your battles to avoid mother-daughter conflict. Some battles (in fact, I’ve found most battles) aren’t worth fighting. If your daughter decides she wants pink hair, let her. If she wants to paint her room orange, let her. If she wants to wear shorts in the dead of winter, let her.
If it’s not going to matter a year from now, then it isn’t worth fighting over. Your relationship with your daughter is far more important than a silly battle of the wills that won’t do any good for you, your daughter or your relationship. Follow Elsa’s wise words of advice and just “let it go.”
Have Realistic Expectations
No two teenagers are alike. They all deal with hormones, frustrations, academic pressure, fighting for independence and life, in general, differently. What that means is that we can’t compare our kids to anyone else’s kids. We need to have realistic expectations of our own daughter’s teen years.
Frankly, even the most harmonious families have their share of trials and tribulations during the tumultuous teen years. It’s a given that you’ll have at least a few bumps along the way and, that’s okay.
The sooner you recognize and expect that there might be a few hurdles to overcome, the more normal you’ll feel (and the more normal you’ll view your daughter) as she moves through her teen years. Bottom line, cut your daughter and yourself a little slack during this time – you’re both learning, growing, and navigating unchartered territory together.
Don’t Let Her Emotions Get the Best of You
Not every snarky remark deserves a reply. Not every argument needs to be won. Not every fight needs to be fought. Sometimes, the absolute best thing to do is walk away.
Don’t let your daughter’s unpredictable moods, frustrations or attempts to rile you get the best of you. You are the adult in the room. You need to set an example. You need to set the tone. You need to walk away and give her time to calm down without contributing to the conflict or chaos.
You might be surprised how it transforms your relationship with your daughter when you come to the realization that conflict always takes two. And, when you remove yourself from the equation, you’re removing yourself from the conflict and, inevitably, creating more peace between the two of you.
Find a Common Ground
When my girls became teenagers and started having an interest in makeup, we used to have “makeup dates” where we’d hit the store and I’d let them pick out one or two new makeup products to try.
Then, when we returned home, I’d hang out in their bedroom with them while they tried out their new products. Years later, we still have makeup dates.
Whether your daughter is into makeup, art, shopping for deals, sports, binge-watching a particular show on Netflix or any other hobby or interest, jump into her world and find a common ground.
It doesn’t matter what it is, the idea is to narrow the divide between you and your daughter so you have something in common to talk about. Once you find an interest you can share together, you might be surprised how she opens up and actually looks forward to your time together.
One of the most undervalued ways to show our kids how much we love them, that we’ll always be here for them and that no matter how offish or moody they are we’ll always be their biggest cheerleader is to just show up.
Show up for her games, her recitals, her tournaments and her performances. Show up on her good days, her bad days and every day in between. Show up when she needs you and even when she doesn’t. Show up when it’s easy. Show up when it’s hard. Show up so she can see you. Show up so she can count on you. Show up so she knows that, no matter what, you’ll always be on the sidelines in life cheering her on.
Love Her Unconditionally
Our love for our daughters isn’t “IF” or “BECAUSE.” Our love is “ANYWAY,” and “EVEN THOUGH,” and “IN SPITE OF.” Love her unconditionally. Love her so powerfully that she never questions your steadfast adoration – even when it’s hard, even when she’s moody, offish or pushes you away, and even when she’s not quite so loveable.
- Don’t take difficult behavior personally
- Establish ground rules and boundaries
- Focus on the positive
- Let them take healthy risks
- Don’t sweat the small stuff
- Practice unconditional love
- Don’t be afraid to seek help
She’ll Grow From It
Keep in mind that you too was once a teen girl. Just as it was a temporary phase for you, so will it be for your daughter. Before long, your mother-daughter battles will be a thing of the past and she will emerge on the other side of her teen years a different person and the roughness of your relationship will smoothen out.
Through it all, embrace the good times, keep the lows in perspective, definitely keep your wits about yourself (truly, without humor, I don’t know what I would have done) and continue loving on your daughter. Do it for her so that one day, she can do it for own daughter.
Juvenile Justice System
Juvenile Justice Terms
Juvenile Court Term
Take into custody
Held in detention
Adult Court Terms
Nearly 100,000 young people are drawn into the juvenile justice system each year for
status offenses. Status offenses — behavior such as truancy, running away , curfew violations, underaged drinking, being unruly — are not crimes, but they are prohibited under the law because of a youth’s status as a minor. While status offenses are not serious offenses, they can have serious consequences for youth
What is “Status Offense?”
A status offense is a noncriminal act that is considered a law violation only because of a youth’s status as a minor. Typical status offenses include truancy, running away from home, violating curfew, underage use of alcohol, and being unruly.
Most youths who engage in status and other minor offenses never progress to more serious behavior, according to a 2015 literature review by the federal Office of Juvenile Justice Delinquency and Prevention. This kind of behavior can be a normal part of adolescent development, per the Vera Institute of Justice’s Status Offense Reform Center. But, for some young people, it can signal underlying problems at home or in school that need closer attention.
“Young people should never be adjudicated or formally processed for status offenses,” – Steven Bishop
Do youth go to juvenile court for status offenses?
In some jurisdictions, status offense cases are referred to social service agencies or family crisis units that can offer young people guidance and support. Other jurisdictions rely on the juvenile justice system, despite evidence that punitive responses to these types of behaviors are ineffective. In 2016, the most recent year for which national data is available, 94,700 status offense cases were handled by U.S. courts. During this year, juvenile probation was the most common sanction ordered by the court for status offense cases.
“The best thing we can do for teenagers doing things like staying out late and drinking beer is let them, or help them, mature without being pulled into the justice system,” says Bishop. “Young people who get locked up for normal teenage behavior often end up worse off than if the system hadn’t gotten involved in the first place. That’s because confinement disrupts positive connections to families and schools and the usual guidance, education and support networks that could keep them on the right track.”
What’s the worst that can happen to a status offenders?
The federal Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act discourages states from placing youth, with juvenile status offenses, in secured juvenile detention centers or other locked confinement. States that do this risk losing a significant portion of their juvenile justice block grant awards. This part of the federal act, known as the deinstitutionalization of status offenders core requirement, is meant to encourage states to divert youth with status offenses away from the juvenile justice system toward more community-based programs.
Despite these cautions, more than 2,200 young people with status offenses were ordered to out-of-home placement, such as youth prisons, secured residential treatment centers, or group homes (placement). Youth of color were disproportionately confined for status offenses during. They represented 46% of the total youth population in 2016, yet accounted for 53% of the young people confined by courts for status offenses.
“The best thing we can do for teenagers doing things like staying out late and drinking beer is let them, or help them, mature without being pulled into the juvenile justice system”.
“Young people who get locked up for normal teenage behavior often end up worse off than if the system hadn’t gotten involved in the first place. That’s because confinement disrupts positive connections to families and schools and the usual guidance, education and support networks that could keep them on the right track.” -Steven Bishop
If you have an emergency situation, please call 911. If there is any information that is not listed or you need help with resources, please call or email us as firstname.lastname@example.org or (725) 696-7230. We will put you in touch with the right people to help you and your daughter.
…because every girl should believe she matters.
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