Prevent Mother-Daughter Battles!

Prevent Mother-Daughter Battles!

Hear my daughter Stephanie, who trained as a peer counsellor, and I advise on the ground rules for a good mother-daughter relationship.

Mothering Sunday's upon us and for some mother-child pairs it’ll be fraught. Particularly for mothers and daughters as Cambridge University research found mothers argue twice as often, for twice as long, with daughters than with sons.

 

This doesn't surprise me, as although my daughter and I are extremely close and loving, fireworks have been known to fly like on her 18th birthday when she got tattooed and I nearly keeled over.

 

Many difficulties arise from natural power-struggles as a daughter grows up, “I’ll wear what I want, see who I like,” etc., is a rally cry. And psychologically mother-daughter issues often reflect their similarities. Stephanie recognises this saying she now sees we’re two sides of the same coin - both strong characters - meaning we've clashed at times.

 

You’re not alone occasionally wondering if your youngster’s the "devil's daughter". Or if you want to block your ears every time your mother speaks. But disagreements aren’t the fault of one person – both mother and daughter need to change and adapt to improve things as she grows up. In light of our experiences here’s our golden rules:

 

Relationship Rule One: Does Mother Always Know Best?

Dr. Pam - You assume you're older so you know better. Largely that’s true but you still need to listen to your daughter's view. From early on ask her opinions and views - and listen!

Practical Application - Curfews

Trust’s important but don't take at face value claims that friends get to stay out later or go to unsupervised parties. Liase with other mums regularly.

 

Stephanie – It’s guaranteed a flat ‘no’ for a later curfew means she’ll push the boundaries and rebel. However, if you negotiate reasonable curfews she’ll see you respect her as a human being and not just a little girl. If she abuses this trust don’t let her get away with it!

 

Relationship Rule Two: You're Her Biggest Role-Model!

Dr. Pam - She learns directly from how you live your life. You demonstrate to her things like what it means to respect yourself and others. This extends to your relationship with her.

 

Practical Application - Pocket money/spending

Demonstrate how you balance a budget and help her apply this to pocket money. If she's desperate for a new mobile encourage her to save half of her pocket money each week.

 

Stephanie - From 16 it was cool to have a monthly allowance rather than weekly pocket money. It’s not easy balancing a budget, though, so writing it down is an excellent way to check expenses. Together calculate how much she needs for phone bills, toiletries, going out, clothes, etc. then come to a reasonable monthly sum. Try for three months.

 

Relationship Rule Three: Set Your Boundaries!

Dr. Pam - It may be tempting to be your daughter's "friend", letting her get away with things rather then argue. You're not doing her any favours for when she faces the real world. Everyone needs to help out in a family and be respectful.

Practical Application - Chores

Daughters are more helpful than sons but in adolescence that often ceases. Talk through the chores that need doing, and which play to her strengths. She might be great at hoovering (so she should do it!) but hopeless at ironing.

 

Stephanie – Let her experiment with things, too. It may be a hassle but beneficial in the long run. From an early age I wanted to cook dinner once a week– mum endured some pretty bad tasting meals but the skills helped when I went to Uni.

 

Relationship Rule Four: She's Not Your Mini-Me

Dr. Pam - You gave birth to her, she might have a similar personality, and even look like you – but she's not you! Don't expect her to think and feel like you. She'll appreciate your relationship if you appreciate who she really is.

 

Practical Application - Providing Self-belief

Value her uniqueness, encouraging her interests be they painting, dance or swimming. Don't live unfulfilled dreams through her.

 

Stephanie – Yes, encourage her but don’t indulge every whim. I begged to stop playing piano and start guitar at age 11 and we compromised. Mum and dad gave me a guitar for my 13th birthday ensuring it wasn’t a passing desire. Don’t say ‘No’ if she asks to do something you think weird/unworthy – like drums or decks. Interests have changed for girls since you were young!

 

Relationship Rule Five: Don't Make A Crisis Out Of A Problem!

Dr. Pam - Everyone experience problems. It's your responsibility to keep things in perspective. Particularly true during adolescence when everything seems a crisis to them.

 

Practical Application - Emotional Roller-coaster

If she's upset having been bullied, or argued with her best friend, keep calm and talk it through. Don't worsen things by getting upset, too. She'll appreciate you being her rock.

 

Stephanie – It must be horrible to see your child upset but she’ll come to you in future if she trusts you won’t fly off the handle. Give her time, it may take loads of courage to tell you what’s happening. For example, with bullying don’t immediately threaten to report the peer that’s upsetting your daughter. That seems daunting when she just wants a hug.

 

Finally, no relationship's perfect and if you can bite your tongue or be first to say ‘Sorry’ when World War Three's erupted, that’ll improve your relationship. To paraphrase an American psychologist, a mother’s akin to a bungee jump - her daughter may rebel and dive for freedom, but that safety chord always connects her to her mum. Cherish that bond.

 

Published in The Express Newspaper

 


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