Can We Talk?

I saved the “best” for last — communication. Of all the issues teen girls and their parents have, all the questions that we saw at the girls’ event at our church, this was the biggest. Why? Because when communication breaks down or disappears, everything else falls apart, as well. When we can’t talk about what’s going on, what concerns we have, what we should and shouldn’t do as mothers and daughters, then what? This is me — when I went totally blank after I started answering a question. Yep, even word-lovers get tongue-tied! And it happens as a mom, too. We don’t always have the right answers right away. Sometimes we need to think. Sometimes we don’t think and have to take back our responses (like when I’m asked, “Mom, how old do I have to be to date?” and I snap back, “30!” Then I have to go back and say, “I’m sorry. I meant 25.”)

Several girls hinted that talking to their moms about sensitive issues was too difficult. Mom either shuts down or gets mad. Moms reading this — take note! Your daughters are craving a relationship with you. Listen to them. Treat their questions with respect. If there are topics that you refuse to discuss with your daughters, know that they will just go talk to someone else about them. And if you spend years shutting down their attempts to open up, there will come a time when they no longer make those attempts.

Daughters, be careful how you begin these conversations. If you’re addressing your mom without respect, or if you’re immediately defensive (you ask to talk to your mom and she says, “hold on, I just need to finish this e-mail.” and you storm off and say, “I knew you didn’t wnat to talk to me!”), then you’re slamming the door before it’s even been opened.

Assume the best. Daughters, assume your mom loves you and wants to hear from you. Moms, assume your daughters want your encouragement and help.

Forgive past hurts. This is, by far, the biggest barrier to healthy relationships. Of course, our parents are going to hurt us. We are going to hurt our parents. We are sinful beings. If we refuse to have relationships with anyone who is imperfect, we will live a lonely life. So accept the imperfect person that is your mom or your daughter and lavish forgiveness on her. Think of all that we have been forgiven — by the Creator of the universe! There is great freedom in forgiveness, but bondage in unforgiveness.

Be honest. Tell your mom/daughter what you’re really thinking, what you’re struggling with. Life is complicated enough. Don’t make it more complicated by pretending you are something you’re not. There are people with whom you need to be guarded with your heart. (More on that later.) But your mom/daughter isn’t one of them.

Make time for each other. I know about busy. Believe me! But we moms and daughters have to make time for each other. Often. Take a walk together, go to the grocery together. Sit on the couch together. Go out for dessert. Meaningful conversation doesn’t happen by accident. We have to be intentional about cultivating our relationships.

Now I want to hear from you. What are ways you have found to help your mother-daughter relationship flourish? What hindrances to that relationship have you seen in your own lives or others’? Do tell!

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