The bond between mother and daughter is often very strong, but sometimes it can be challenged, whether by outside influences or sometimes by simple misunderstanding. I’m no expert, but I find that when my two daughters are confident that I truly do have their best interests at heart, life is much sweeter, even during times of disagreement and discipline.
Establishing your care for your daughter manifests itself in many ways as she grows and changes. During infancy through preschool, time is so important. Taking the time to look into your child’s eyes when she is talking to you speaks volumes about how much you value her. If she is a “girly girl,” then indulge that with pretty hair ribbons and accessories. Moms who always look like they just stepped out of a magazine, but dress their daughters in dirty, ill-fitting or mismatched clothing should seriously consider the message they are sending. Even though your toddler may not care how she looks now, odds are that she will look at baby photos one day, and hopefully, what she sees will reflect attentive, purposeful care on your part.
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If your daughter is into sports, music, dance or any other activity, be her biggest fan. She may not be the best at what she does, but by virtue of trying, she should be clearly worth your effort to watch her. If she hasn’t yet found her niche, she is more likely to try new things if she feels supported, no matter what. Also, while life does prevent us at times, it is extremely important at all ages to keep your word. If you say you will be there, then be there, and on time. The credibility you are building now is something you may need desperately in later years.
When your daughter reaches elementary school, her peers will begin to have more influence. Be as involved as you can so that your daughter knows that you care about who she hangs out with. When discipline is needed, try your best to refrain from correcting her in front her her friends, as this can be very damaging to the relationship and the humiliation will likely keep her from truly hearing what you have said anyway. Other ways to show that you care are by sending encouraging notes in her lunchbox. Buying inexpensive “just because” gifts are also easy ways to show love, especially for those who aren’t as good at communication. If she is timid and worried about not fitting in, reassure her that everyone has those feelings sometimes.
By the teen years, your daughter will need your thoughts and experiences more than ever, so be very aware when “teachable moments” present themselves. If a certain subject lends itself to timely discussion, don’t let anything interrupt it, because you never know when you may have a similar opportunity. Also, her peers will be of utmost importance by this age, so be kind to your daughter’s friends, even those you aren’t crazy about. Try to include her friends in family outings, when appropriate. When you do have to direct your child away from certain people or situations, do your best to provide clear, concise reasons, based on your belief system (way beyond “because I told you so”). Also, as hard as it may be, try to remain calm. If you are seen as a raving, irrational micromanager, then your credibility will surely suffer for it.
I am not there yet, but relating to adult children will surely have its own set of challenges. I hope, though, that throughout their entire lives, my daughters have been able to see me as the one who is always in their corner, and that they always will.