With the emotional sparks that fire during young love, mothers have a seemingly impossible spectrum to balance: availability, distance, restriction, permission, and most importantly, a listening ear.
When a mother-daughter relationship shares a heartbeat of mutual respect, mom knows her likes, dislikes, and what’s going on in her life. Especially during the volatile teen years, mothers are challenged to keep their place within their daughter’s inner circle. Regardless, we are compelled to preserve our role as a trusted confidant. As we strive to provide both comfort and reason, remember, trust is a two-way street—consistently responsible teenage girls who follow rules have earned the privilege to go on dates.
Open Lines of Communication
With unwavering confidence in mom’s unconditional love, our daughter should rest assured that mother-daughter conversations will be judgment-free, every time. By maintaining open lines of communication, she’s less likely to keep secrets from us. When she has the floor, active listening is everything; never interrupt. With delicate matters of the heart, place more value on the mother-daughter relationship than on problem solving; she might only want a listening ear. It is so important to safeguard our seat within her inner circle.
Meet the Boy
It may seem old-fashioned, but we should receive an introduction to anyone our daughter wants to go out with. Upon arrival, give the boy proper attention—make introductions, shake his hand, and ask if he wants anything to drink. Maybe throw him a bone by expressing curiosity about his life, goals, and interests. In a light-hearted but serious way, let him know you’ll be “keeping an eye” on him.
Rules & Expectations
Ensure she complies with curfew, is accessible in the event of an emergency, and updates us if plans change. As mothers, if we believe in something, take a clear stand in our position. Respect her boundaries, while insisting that if she ever feels uncomfortable, we are only a call or text away. She should know that she is the greatest priority in our world.
Teens need to learn how to think logically, make decisions, and learn from experience. She will always be our little girl, but if we try to micromanage her life, we disrupt the learning process and sabotage the free-thinking independence we seek to instill. At a certain age, a father should grant his daughter the space to discover who she is, who she is becoming, and who she wants to be.
Disapproval of Our Daughter’s Dating Partner
What can we do if our daughter starts dating someone and we do not approve? Honest self-reflection can help us realize unfair bias that we’ve inappropriately interjected into her relationship. If, after we examine ourselves, we still harbor feelings of ill will, remember that our daughter is excited about someone they care for deeply. Our job isn’t to judge but to learn about her date and their connection. No matter how we feel, open-minded curiosity is best; teenagers are smart. Disingenuous conversations unravel before they even start. If we have a negative attitude, any of our advice will likely fall on deaf ears. No matter how good our intentions are, teens have an exceptional talent for ignoring lectures, criticism, and disapproval.
Vocal opposition to the relationship, threats, and controlling ultimatums lead to alienation and resentment. Before casting judgment, consider asking open-ended questions to understand things better, such as, “What are their interests? What do you like about him? What do you like best about the relationship?”
Whether respectful or rude, attitudes reciprocate. By making ourselves approachable, we can get to know the boy who has our sweet, potentially impressionable young daughter so captivated. Remember, if the lovebirds are comfortable at mom’s house, mom will be better equipped to observe and monitor the relationship. With genuine interest and an open mind, we’ll learn more about him, their relationship, and any previously overlooked redeeming qualities—and our daughter will appreciate our efforts. Hopefully, we’ve instilled values that she can rely on to make good choices as she follows her own path.
Witnessing our daughter date someone we feel is not right is uncomfortable. Don’t worry; if it’s not a reciprocal relationship, and we’ve done a decent job of raising her, the relationship isn’t likely to last. High-school sweethearts rarely make it to the altar. Sparks fizzle and teens turn their attentions elsewhere.
Birds & the Bees
It is likely that you (or dad) have already talked about sex, sexting, harassment, and other sensitive issues facing teens. Even if we believe there is little to no risk of our daughter becoming sexually active, or worse, being assaulted, it is important to discuss these issues. The conversation might make us both uncomfortable, but knowledge is an important part of learning how to manage intimacy in a healthy way. A quick, non-confrontational talk may help our daughter protect her own best interests.
Ending a Relationship
If possible, it is best when teenagers are empowered to end a relationship in accordance with their preferred timing. If we have any worries whatsoever about our daughter’s mental, emotional, or physical well-being, we are duty-bound to stop the noise, reconnect, and listen. Help her tell us what she needs. While most teen breakups are amicable, there are extreme cases where we may have to contact the police, get a restraining order, and work with her school on a safety plan.
She might not want to be bothered, but she wants to know that we care. By consistently offering a listening ear, keeping an open line of communication, and safeguarding our role as trusted confidante, we can indirectly participate in helping our daughter navigate the peaks and valleys of teenage romance.
“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” —Proverbs 3:5-6 KJV
Sensitive, insightful, honest advice from girls and boys on being friends, going out, breaking up, and just being themselves.
Essential conversations to have with your tween and early teenager to prepare them for the emotional, physical, and social challenges ahead, including scripts and advice to keep communication going and stay connected.
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PLEASE NOTE: As an Amazon Associate, Mothers Truly Matter earns from qualifying purchases. The information in this post should not be construed as providing specific psychiatric, psychological, or medical advice, but rather to offer readers information to better understand the lives and health of themselves and their children. It is not intended to provide an alternative to professional treatment or to replace the services of a physician, psychiatrist, or psychotherapist.