Hmnnn. This is a very tough question to answer. I believe that once bitten, twice shy. So if you & your daughter never had a bond while she was growing up, it would be very difficult to start at her age now & gain her love and trust -especially if you never had it while she was growing up. I say difficult, but not impossible.
Which is why I always stress the importance of foundation. Relationships aren’t built just because you live under one roof. It takes time & effort. Rome was not built in a day. Nurturing mother-daughter relationships starts at Day 1. The moment she leaves your womb & sucks at your breasts.
With my 3 kids, because I grew up having busy parents, I vowed to devote my time & every waking moment to them. So even though my mom hired nannies for each of my kids, I insisted on doing every single thing from feedings, to bathings, to changing diapers. The nannies were there to wash the bottles or assist me, or watch my babies when I’m indisposed. So my bond with the kids has been established & now they love me like crazy. Of course I know not everyone can be a stay at home mom even if they wanted to. Ours is not a perfect world.
16 is an age where kids think they know it all. They have wings & they want to be allowed to fly on their own. Add to that peer pressure. And wanting to be cool and not seen by her friends as mommy’s baby.
If you don’t start now, you will never be close. Ever. So although it’s bad that you have waited this long to want to be close to her, it’s also good that you still have that small window to be her bestest friend -or at least her buddy.
I was never close to my mom. I love her deeply, but sadly, we are not friends. There is the age factor. She had me in her very late 30’s so the generation gap was wide. There is also the fact that being a doctor & businesswoman, she was always busy. And even though she tried to make time for me, a child senses when time is timed. There is the communication factor as well. I can never get a word in, so I just shut up. Whenever I have a problem, I don’t run to her. I run to my own girls, ironically. They are MY bestest friends. Story cut short, the ship has sailed for me & my mom. But you still have time.
First of all, don’t push yourself on her. Teens need time, and plenty of space. They want their friends, not their moms. Have a go little by little, step by step. Start by asking her if she wants to go to the parlor with you the first week. Or if there’s anything she wants to buy the next (I mean what girl doesn’t like shopping, right?). Or eat at a new restaurant you know she’d enjoy. Catch a movie. Go to a concert (just so you appear”cool” even though your eardrums are on the verge of bursting, look like you’re really enjoying it). Build it up as you go along so that she gets used to having you around in her life.
And learn to LISTEN. Not nag. Get to know her. Ask her her dreams, her goals, what catches her fancy. And NEVER say anything negative about her friends (or boyfriend). Not yet, at least. You need to be IN her list of top favorite people before she will listen to you.
I remember a time when Ate had her crush. I was against the blooming whatever because I felt she deserved someone better. All moms do but in this case, I really had the best of intentions. But I still gave her options & I told her exactly what I thought. I didn’t tell her NO outright, or that she can’t. YOU NEVER SAY THAT TO YOUR KIDS. The more they will rebel just to piss you off. You tell them the positive along with the negative. The reward & the consequence. If you have raised them well, they will be smart enough to listen to you. And lucky me, she did. Even though she wanted to go with her heart, she more than anything didn’t want to disappoint me. So she took my advice. And now, we laugh about it. But amidst this all, remember to speak with your heart. And LISTEN, not just talk. Don’t just be the mom, be a friend first & foremost.
And once you know that she is comfortable enough with you, apologize. Apologize for whatever wrong she thinks you have done. There MUST be something because daughters & mothers, they normally have an unshaken bond. Girls idolize their moms. So have a heart-to-heart talk & learn from it. Ask her where you went wrong. Ask her how you can make up for it. Ask for her forgiveness. Then ask that she let you in.
It’s times & instances like this that I realize how I’m truly so lucky that I have such a wonderful relationship with my kids. I’m not perfect, they’re not perfect, but thank God we make it work. That even though I sometimes do wrong in their eyes, the bond we have built through the years is strong to cover it. I’m also very blessed that I have such great kids. You can be the best of mothers, but if you have bad kids, simply put, you’re dead.
I strongly advice that you take time to read this book by GARY CHAPMAN. Believe me when I say they have a whole different language that we as parents must learn.
I hope I was able to help you with some of my insight as a parent to 3 teens. Thank you for sending in your letter. I wish you & your daughter joy that a mother & daughter relationship brings. Good Luck! And do update me. I love a happy ending.
Dear readers, if there is anything you would like to add, feel free to do so on the comment section below. :)