There are few, if any, relationships that are more significant than the mother-daughter relationship. The relationship a woman has with her mother forms so many aspects of her life; from how she relates to other women and her values, to her self-esteem. It even goes as far as influencing her romantic relationships. Does she emulate her mother’s behaviors or rebel against them?
A mother can be a woman’s single most significant role model, influencing what she aspires to be in her many roles in life as a professional, mother, sister, aunt and/or friend. Or she can be her greatest cautionary tale, rebelling against everything her mother stands for. Either way, how a woman relates to her mother will forever impact her other relationships. More importantly, it will often influence the relationship she has with herself.
According to a study in the Journal of Neuroscience, when the brains of mother-daughter pairs were compared with father-daughter, mother-son or father-son pairs, the mother-daughter pairs showed the highest correlation. Different from other parent-child relationships which are based on love, the mother-daughter connection is led by empathy because a mother is the only one that can truly identify with her daughter’s experiences.
Whatever the case is, building a strong mother-daughter relationship is incredibly important and can be nurtured with a few simple steps.
Building a Strong Mother-Daughter Bond at Any Age
One of the most under-valued and overlooked skills any person can develop is learning to listen. In the mother-daughter relationship, where communication plays such a vital role, listening is of utmost importance. Listening to whatever your daughter wants to talk to you about creates trust, solidifies complicity and gives you the opportunity to provide the advice she needs.
To practice active listening when your daughter engages you, stop what you are doing and provide your undivided attention. Avoid listening while multitasking on your phone or computer, cooking, or watching television. If you can’t stop what you’re doing at the moment, let her know that you want to give her your full attention as soon as you finish your current task. Show her that you are engaged, provide feedback and never, ever judge…
Feeling judged is one of the most common complaints daughters have of their mothers. Judging can stir up and ruin even the most solid mother-daughter relationship. It creates distrust, isolation, and breaks in communication. Don’t forget that your daughter is not you. She is her own person. You may not agree with her decisions, but your role is to support her and help her make the best choice possible and encourage her uniqueness.
Respecting your daughter is not to be confused with not disciplining her. Your job is to guide and protect her, but you still have to recognize her boundaries as a person. If she’s not the affectionate type, don’t force her to hug everyone. If she needs time to process a difficult conversation, don’t push a resolution when she’s not ready.
On the flip side, a child should not be expected to make their own decisions all the time. They are still building their experience with the world, learning to identify and manage their emotions and how to behave within social environments. Letting them run wild is equally disrespectful to them as enforcing excessive control. To get respect you have to give respect, and that includes your daughter.
At the end of it all, your daughter just wants to know you have her back. Also, she needs assurance that she’ll always be able to come to you even if you don’t agree with her decisions. Support should carry on throughout every stage of your relationship— from encouraging her to develop her talents early on, to being by her side through a painful breakup.
Remember that as she grows, the mother-daughter relationship will evolve from being her caretaker to her friend and, hopefully, advisor. With the passing of the years, you’ll also have to develop how you relate to her and provide the support that she asks for or needs.
Following these simple, yet important, steps will aid in building a strong mother-daughter relationship that can continue to flourish over time.
What is the key to your mother-daughter relationship? Share in the comments!