Hold a mirror up for your daughter — tell her what you see
Teens can get a bit obsessed with checking themselves in the mirror, it’s partly because they become intensely self-conscious in these years but also because they’re looking to see who they are.
Help your child to find herself by telling her what you see
- Do this when you find your child is looking outside of herself for affirmation, trying to be like someone else, or seems to be losing herself in trying to fit in.
- Do this when your daughter seems to be swayed too much by her peers.
- Do this when things have become strained between you and your daughter.
- Do this even if your relationship with your daughter is good and she seems fine.
Choose a special time, outside of ordinary life, when you can be alone together. This will give it weight and she’ll be more likely to remember what you say. It could be on a Mother-Daughter Date, stopping off for hot chocolate in a quiet café, or taking a picnic to a favourite spot.
Children need to know that we can see that they are growing up, particularly in the eyes of their parents. Otherwise, they feel the need to prove that they’re no longer children in what they wear and how they talk and behave. It might seem like they’re older but it’s often only on the surface. You can support your children’s deeper maturation by making sure they know that you recognize they’re growing older.
You may want to give some thought beforehand to what you want to say, or you can just see what comes to you at the time. You know your child well, trust that you know what she needs to hear from you right now. I suggest you avoid advice, criticism (in all its forms) and praise. Describe her to herself. Describe how you see her and how you notice her maturing. Tell her what she means to you. Trust whatever comes to you, you don’t have to plan it all out, you may even end up saying something completely different at the time! My guidance would be to muse on it, allow your mind to wander over it while you walk or shower or cook. And if this is challenging for you, make it short and heartfelt.
You always have the opportunity to say special things privately to your daughter. Making a special occasion of it gives your words extra weight — your daughter will hear you in a different way and will remember it. Girls often dismiss feedback that their parents give them because, “You’re just saying that because you’re my mum” but I’ve found that communicating with her in this different way gives what you say extra strength. The girls hear it and take it in. Many parents find the thought of speaking like this a bit nerve-wracking. Most things that are this important will feel that way. I say, just go for it!
You don’t need to plan or give it lots of concentrated thought — often a few, simple words are most powerful. Write if first if that will help. Trust that whatever you want to say to your daughter will be the right thing. You can’t get it wrong and remember you have the rest of her life to say anything that you feel you may have missed out. There will be a perfection to whatever you end up saying.
After speaking to her in this special way take some time to relax and share food. That will help her to take it in.
And then plan to do it again in a year’s time.
And when the time is right, plan something to mark her coming of age. For everything you need to create this for your daughter read how-to guide in chapter nine of Kim McCabe’s ‘From Daughter to Woman’.