The relationship between a mother and daughter is powerful and unique. It is also intensely fierce and vulnerable. Personality, temperaments, experiences, hormones – all of these can affect your relationship with your daughter. Right now I am parenting a threenager and a tweenager, so let’s just say there’s A LOT of emotion in our household!
I absolutely love being a mum to girls. I am one of five girls myself (no brothers) so I am very comfortable with girls. That’s not to say it’s always easy, but I do feel like I understand how their minds work. As mums, we have the opportunity to teach our daughters how to grow up in this world—to be their guide, confidant, and friend for life. To do that we must maintain a connection even in difficult seasons of our relationship.
So, how do you build that bond if you don’t have a natural connection? Or, how can you strengthen it if you’ve already got a bond? Here are my 5 top tips for forming a deeper connection with your daughter.
1. Form strong bonds early
In a highly distracted world, connection has become a little lost and we need to prioritise it. I am a big believer in mother-daughter time. It is so important for mums and daughters to do things together, especially in the early years. I believe that in order for our girls to thrive they need a strong sense of connection and belonging. And there are many ways we can foster this.
More than anything a child needs a mum’s time and love. And the early years are critical in establishing this connection. In the early years, your child’s main way of learning and developing is through play. Spending time playing with your child sends a simple message – you’re important to me.
By building a warm, positive and responsive relationship with your child, you’re helping shape the adult she’ll become and giving her a strong foundation for the rest of her life.
2. Be present
A common challenge for the modern mum is finding the time for connection in our busy lives. And I get that. But there are opportunities for connection every day. By being present in their presence. While I am a big advocate for setting aside one-on-one time, you can embrace “micro moments” of connection with your daughter multiple times a day. It’s not the quantity but more the quality of these connections that count.
For the mum of the small child, it’s the simple things like making eye contact and bending down so your eyes are level (something that gets a little harder when you’re a geriatric mama like me!). For those with preschoolers it’s sitting on the floor with them to do a puzzle, even if you’ve done that Frozen puzzle 75 times already that day (yep, I have Frozen fatigue!).
For school-aged children it’s putting your phone away when they get home from school and engaging with them while they have afternoon tea. It’s the dinner-table in the evening that provides time for connection. It’s sitting on your daughter’s bed at night and lingering a little longer so she can open up to you about the friendship troubles she’s having at school.
For the moody teenager, who may seem withdrawn a lot of the time, it’s the micro moment she looks at you and actually listens. You can find beautiful moments of connection in the seemingly mundane moments. And they add up; the little moments are actually big.
3. Listen to her
Carve out time to spend with your daughter when there aren’t distractions and you can really listen. Bedtime is a great moment for this with younger girls because they really don’t want to go to bed and will happily chat. Ask some open-ended questions, and then listen. Resist the urge to rush in to give advice. This is also known as “active listening.” When she feels valued, she will be more open and less guarded with you.
Over time, being open and accepted strengthens the connection and builds trust. We can’t always “fix” everything for our children, but really listening is the best way to create a caring relationship in which they see you as being “in their corner”.
4. Schedule one-on-one time
A question I regularly get asked on social media is “How do you find the time for one-on-one-time with your daughters?” And the answer to that is simple: I make time. If I waited for time to magically open up, it would never happen.
Modern life is busy, ridiculously busy. Mums have a never-ending “To Do” list and are managing multiple balls all the time. While it may seem impossible to set aside an entire day for one-on-one time, it is possible to set aside an hour or so, or even less.
The key is to schedule it. Look in your calendar, find (read: create) an opening and schedule it in. A couple of times a week I take a walk with one of my daughters. Often, it’s after dinner, while hubby is wrangling the little one. We stroll around the neighbourhood, holding hands and chat about our days. My 8 and 9-year-olds particularly love this ritual. They get a half an hour of one-on-one time with me and it fills our buckets.
Other times I take one of them to the local café for brunch. We don’t go to restaurants or or cafes regularly, because it’s far too expensive as a family of six, so café dates are rare and a real treat.
But one- on -one time doesn’t have to happen outside of the home. It could be a simple activity like playing cards or a boardgame at home. It’s less about the activity and more about the shared bonding experience.
If your relationship with your daughters need a little “connection injection” I hope these tips help. A strong sense of love and belonging is what every girl needs to thrive.
Do you want to strengthen your connection with your daughter? Come to one of our ‘Connection events.’
What are some ways that you keep the connection strong with your daughter?