Dear Ashton: I can’t seem to talk to my teenage daughter anymore. It’s as if she resents me or has something against me. If I say anything to her it immediately becomes a VERY tense situation, and sometimes hurtful things are said. I don’t know what caused this, but we hardly talk, spend time together, and she seems to be very content with just letting our relationship die. I don’t get it, and it hurts me deeply. How can I find common ground with her to try to rebuild that loving mother-daughter relationship that we once had? I’m at a loss!
— Desperate Mother
Dear Desperate Mother: I can feel your frustration and pain through your message, and my heart goes out to you. A mother-daughter relationship is special and precious, and we all want great relationships with our girls. Communication is the foundation of that relationship, and something has happened to break down that bond. Priority #1 is to open the lines of communication immediately. This is not going to be easy, and it will take diligence on your part. Ask yourself difficult questions to determine if there has been actions on your part to contribute to the problems. If so, acknowledge your actions and then forgive yourself so you can approach the situation from a place of power. You cannot be effective if you are feeling guilty.
Now the hard part (as if the other was not hard, right?). Talk to your daughter. Plan a day where you two can sit without interruption and choose ahead of time not to be drawn into a shouting match.What she says may not be what you want to hear, but still listen with open ears and heart. Resist the urge to defend your point of view and let your daughter share hers. Do this often, and you will get to know and understand each other. You do not have to both agree on all points, but communicating will build a firm foundation for your relationship. Making your daughters feel heard, showing her unconditional love, and being available emotionally will yield amazing results – tearing down the walls of resistance.
It is up to you to take the first steps towards mending the damaged relationships. This is easier said than done, so set realistic expectations for rebuilding your relationship. However, if the ultimate goal is develop a strong, loving relationship with your daughter, then it is worth the effort. Don’t give up!