Author: Sharon Witt
The bond between mother and daughter is truly unique and has far-reaching effects on the development and socialisation of girls throughout their lifetime.
Increasing the emotional connection between mothers and daughters can foster mutual support. Here are some ideas to help you be an effective mother for your daughter.
Know your impact
Mothers are a powerful influence. The way a mother acts in front of her daughter largely influences her daughter’s behaviour. When a mother can model how to feel pride, take pleasure in her accomplishments, feel a sense of competence and hold a positive self-image she is empowering her daughter in infinite ways.
Be okay with saying no
Saying no benefits both of you. Daughters, like sons, feel safer with boundaries. Boundaries are essential to keeping her safe emotionally and physically. Daughters will often push the boundaries and pester their mothers to give in to them. When you stand firm you teach your daughter that firmness is a strength worth adopting. Your firmness gives her permission to say no when they are put under pressure to conform by peers and in their early relationships.
Seize the opportunity to take in the full presence of your daughter when you can. Notice what she is like. Notice her and openly endorse her likes, dislikes and opinions. You do not need to agree with them, but you can validate them, which demonstrates respect and gives her permission to be her own person.
Do not stop girls from becoming angry but coach them on the skills she needs to work through strong emotions effectively. She must have the opportunity to sit in the experience of those emotions, learn to cope with them and navigate her way through them.
Show her that it’s okay to express a full range of emotions. Emotions are an incredibly powerful tool, and we need to teach daughters that when they feel angry or upset, it’s a signal that something is important and that it should be expressed.
Have confidence in your mothering abilities. Your mother’s instinct will tell you how to parent your daughter well and how to raise her so that she becomes herself. This intuition will guide you in setting limits and knowing if, and when, she needs help. Regardless of what girls may tell their mothers, they want them to be central in their lives.
Expand her definition of beauty
Mothers need to be a part of the beauty conversation with daughters. Don’t leave it to the media or popular culture to be educating her on what beauty is. Model and teach her that beauty comes from the inside. It is a quality that glows out. The more you are able to do that for yourself, the greater she is going to be able to do it for herself.
Help her find her passion
Encourage her to try a variety of activities so that she can discover her passions in early to mid-adolescence. Some girls take longer than others to find their passions. Think of these girls as hummingbirds – they are driven by curiosity. Once a girl finds her passion, she is able to use that as her motivator to develop her skills.
Fracture the good girl image
Allow your daughter to make mistakes, it is one of the best ways to build her confidence. Avoiding failure only sets up a vicious cycle that says “you must be perfect”. Give her the permission to struggle so that she can let the hard times make her stronger, and understand that she can get through challenges that occur to her. This is a valuable lesson that kids learn from their same gender parent.
Gender identity is on a continuum – girls grow up to be women and women were once girls. Some argue that adult women struggle with the same things as younger girls, just in a different context. This may afford great empathy or it may be a great interference to problem-solving if mothers are still working it out for themselves.
Wellbeing Coordinator / Registered Psychologist