The bond between a mother and daughter is practically unbreakable. In fact, according to a study in The Journal of Family Issues, “Of all familial relationships, the mother-daughter one is most likely to remain important for both parties.” However, despite its importance, it is not studied as frequently as many of the other relationships in our lives. Now that you have made it through the rocky teen years and your little girl is all grown up, you may be wondering how to get along with your adult daughter.
Mother-daughter relationship therapist Rosjke Hasseldine says in Counseling Today that, “Mothers and daughters frequently tell me that they feel ashamed about their relationship difficulties. They feel that they “should” be able to get along because popular wisdom tells them that mothers and daughters are supposed to be close.” She adds that “This societal expectation makes mothers and daughters blame themselves for causing their relationship difficulties.”
Hasseldine asserts that there are many societal factors that influence the mother-daughter relationship, including “life events, restrictive gender roles, unrealized career goals, and the expectation that women should sacrifice their needs in their caregiving role all shape how mothers and daughters view themselves and each other and how they communicate.” These factors can cause a number of issues, especially when it comes to mothers and daughters holding differing views on romantic relationships, marriage, parenting, and work-life balance.
Avoiding these relationship pitfalls is key to maintaining a healthy bond with your adult daughter. The following tips should ensure that your relationship with your daughter remains strong.
Practice Non-Judgemental Listening
We all know how important it is to make people feel heard in any type of relationship. When it comes to mothers and daughters, it’s particularly crucial to foster open and honest communication by practicing non-judgemental listening. This means that when your daughter chooses to confide in you about something taking place in her life, try to understand her experience rather than impart your own onto the situation. It’s also important to make your daughter feel as though she has your support. So while you may not necessarily agree with every decision she makes, it’s not always necessary to express this disagreement. Making her feel as though you’re in her corner should be your primary focus.
In the interest of fostering open communication, consider practicing vulnerability and sharing your innermost thoughts and feelings with your daughter. While you may have kept these thoughts to yourself when she was a child, now that she is an adult, she can act as a confidante. Not to mention, letting her see and understand you better will inevitably improve your relationship by helping her to sympathize with your worldview.
Hold Your Criticism
Aim to give more compliments than critiques when speaking to your daughter. One of the issues that adult daughters report the most often is feeling criticized by their mothers. Whether it concerns her parenting style, her choice of boyfriend, or her hair color, your criticism is most likely unwelcome. It’s important to accept her decisions—even if they’re not the ones you would make.
Accommodate Her Schedule
As your daughter enters adulthood, you may find yourself feeling disappointed at the amount of time she’s willing or able to commit to your relationship. Whether your daughter is a college student, a busy member of the workforce, or a new mother, she may be overwhelmed by her day-to-day responsibilities. Make it as easy as possible for the two of you to stay in touch or spend time together by accommodating her schedule as much as possible. Ask her when the best time is to catch up on the phone and offer to visit her rather than requesting that she come to you.
Foster Common Interests
Now that your daughter is an adult, you may share common hobbies and interests. Use these shared passions as a way to connect and build memories together. If, for example, you both love art, make a monthly plan to visit a museum or gallery together. If you both love to cook, suggest taking a cooking class or plan an ambitious meal to undertake together. While it’s important to maintain a parental role, that doesn’t mean you can’t also relate to one another as friends.
Respect Her Boundaries
Boundaries play a key role in the parent-child relationship, no matter your children’s age. Communicate with your daughter about her desired boundaries when it comes to your level of communication, your relationship with her children, and the role you play in her life. It’s always important to ask before taking action. While you may assume your daughter would appreciate a surprise visit, for example, it might, in fact, cause her stress. Though your intentions are certainly positive, she might not perceive them as such.
Be Willing to Apologize
As your daughter gets older and becomes more reflective of her childhood and upbringing, she may express negative feelings about parenting decisions you made in the past. While hearing these criticisms is undoubtedly difficult, it’s important not to react defensively. It’s crucial to let her know that her feelings are valid. Then, apologize for any role you played in causing her pain. If you aren’t able to give her a level-headed response right away, thank her for sharing how she feels and let her know that you intend to reflect on what she said. These same recommendations apply to current conflicts as well as old wounds.
Treat Her Like an Adult
Ultimately, the most important thing is to treat your daughter like an adult. This transition may be hard, considering that—in your mind—she may still be a child. It’s essential to speak to her with respect. One trick to try is to imagine that you’re speaking to another young woman her age, be it a coworker or one of your daughter’s friends.
Hopefully, these tips will help you get along with your adult daughter. Now, help your husband out by sharing some insight on the father-daughter relationship.