Pulling your hair out trying to get your daughter to talk may be the story of your life. Things used to be so different when she was younger, now that she is a teenager (or almost a teenager), she doesn't share anymore. You feel like she is becoming a stranger and she hardly tells you anything about what is going on in her life. If this sounds like you, or you don't want it to be you, keep reading. Your daughter wants to talk to you, but maybe you are sending vibes that tell her she cant. Here are five things you can do or change to help your daughter open up more.
This may sound like a no-brainer but if it was easy, it wouldn’t be the first on my list. You may be a busy mom, have more than one child, or your daughter came to you at the wrong time, but try to sit down and listen. She came to you now for a reason, and if she has to always wait, then she will stop coming. Don’t get me wrong, you may be in the middle of something sometimes, but find some time after that to give her your undivided attention. She needs to know that you care about what is going on and that she can come to you.
2. Don’t give advice until asked for
This goes hand in hand with the listening. When your daughter comes to you, use your ears more than your mouth. Sometimes kids just need to vent and don’t want you to solve their problems, and sometimes they will ask “mom, what do I do?” Until you get that question, don’t give your advice, give your support. Show her that she can come to you with anything because you will listen before you react. You are raising a smart daughter and you taught how to make choices on her own, now you have to let her do that (unless she is putting herself in immediate danger, there are always exceptions to these rules).
3. Be authentic and honest
Since I asked you not to give advice, I’m letting you know you can share stories. Maybe you had a friend that treated you the same as her friend did her, or you remember going through your first break up, etc…Tell her! Tell her she isn’t alone in this (don’t tell her what she should do) but that you’ve experienced it too. You might just get her to ask how you handled it. Don’t lie about something, be authentic and show your daughter that she can relate to you, and that you will be honest. Share, but don’t over share (TMI is real, you will know what’s appropriate and what isn’t).
4. Try to sound curious, not prying
If you ask questions in a certain way, they won’t sound as bad. “So, what are you going to do?” sounds like you’re prying, but “I wonder how you will handle that.” Sounds curious and interested. Do you get my point yet? I want you to wonder, share your experience, listen, and she will open up because you are genuinely interested in how she is feeling and what is going on. “I wonder” also gives her the space to come up with a solution on her own (remember, you raised a smart daughter!)
5. Acknowledge how you think she is feeling
Say “I can see this has made you angry” vs “gosh, don’t get so mad!” Acknowledge her feelings, because they are real and she is feeling them. No feeling is a wrong feeling, there are just wrong reactions to feelings. Let her know that you can see her emotion and it’s okay for her to feel like that. “I can see this has made you angry; I wonder how you will handle it” will get your daughter to keep talking, but “gosh, don’t get so mad, if I were you, I would…” Bottom line is you aren’t her. You also didn’t acknowledge how she feeling or let her decide what to do about it. You told your daughter that you will try to solve all of her problems.
This may sound crazy or even hard to do, but remember that you are raising a smart young lady. You have spent so many years teaching her to be independent, trust herself, and to be as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside. This is your chance to prove that you trust her, show her she can make decisions on her own, and come to you as home base.