"I hate you!" my daughter screamed. "I wish you weren't my mother!" Little did she realize that some days I felt the same way. Ugly words, unmet expectations and crazy hormones can fill a mother-daughter relationship with tension.
As moms, we desperately want to have a good relationship with our daughters, but we often don't know how to achieve that. We feel embarrassed because a friend seems to have a great relationship with her daughter. Her toddler is compliant, not strong-willed, and her teen is respectful.
So how do we lessen the tension and begin to develop healthy ways of relating to our daughters?
Most moms desire to be a friend to young daughters and forget that our first priority is to be their parent. Our discipline must be firm and consistent, our love generous and unconditional. This is a time to insist on respect. How our young children think about us now isn't as important as it will be in 20 years.
Shared experiences and interests nurture friendships; the same is true in family relationships. One mom has a tomboy toddler, so she throws balls with her. Another has a 12-year-old cook. They make jam together. By intentionally connecting, ties are formed that will help carry the relationship through inevitable times of tension.
If you already relate well with your girl, you can still expect rough times in your relationship, particularly during the teen years. However, it's important not to take this time of growth and change personally; females just push each other's buttons. When tensions do rise, be slow to anger and quick to forgive and to ask for forgiveness. We all mess up. The good news is that forgiveness can begin the healing process in a relationship.
Teens tend to go through stages when they don't like themselves or their families. What they most need from us at these times is hope. Reassure your daughter that her angst won't last forever. Write her a love note. Tell her what you appreciate about her.
You can also set an example by loving and serving your own mother and mother-in-law. Your daughter is watching, and one day she will have the opportunity to care for you.
Finally, pray for your daughter, and ask a close friend to pray for both of you. We have a loving Father who cares about the relationships in our homes, and He will provide the grace you need.
Susan A. Yates speaks nationally and internationally on marriage, parenting and women's issues. She is the author of And Then I Had Teenagers.
This article originally appeared in the March/April, 2011 issue of Thriving Family magazine. Copyright © 2011 by Susan A. Yates. Used by permission. ThrivingFamily.com.