The following is an excerpt from my interview with Cindi McMenamin on my podcast, “You’ve Got This.”
As the mother to two teenage daughters—and having a mom of my own, naturally—I was surprised to hear that many daughters think their moms don’t truly accept them for who they are, according to Cindi McMenamin, who surveyed 100 daughters between the ages of 12 and 42 for her book, When a Mom Inspires Her Daughter. “Most moms in those same relationships had no idea their daughters saw them as overly critical and judgmental,” she said.
“I heard daughter after daughter tell me that she just needed her mom’s love and support,” McMenamin said. “When I asked what conveys love and support to you, the word acceptance kept coming up.”
Many of the moms in McMenamin’s survey were not aware of being critical toward their daughters, which “opened my eyes up to the fact that it’s very easy for us to come across as critical or judgmental or unaccepting of our daughters when we have no intent to be that way,” she said.
Here are five simple ways to help foster a better mother-daughter relationship and avoid coming across as overly critical with our daughters.
Words and deeds go hand in hand. It’s more than the words we say to our daughters—it’s also the tone we use and our facial expressions and body language. One great example is Meryl Streep’s character in the movie The Devil Wears Prada. As the editor of a fashion magazine, the character has the ability to destroy careers with the mere tightening of her lips. We have the same power through our interaction our daughters. This means we pay attention to more than what we say and that our actions match our words.
Learn when to back away. There are times when my daughters simply need space from mom, so I gladly give that to them. “When my daughter was in high school, she asked me if we always needed to talk about everything,” she said. “She needed time to think and be on her own.”
Recognize she’s different from us. When our girls were little, they wanted to be just like us. My oldest daughter went as a mom to the kindergarten career day. “The hardest thing to accept is that our daughters are different from us,” McMenamin said. “We can get offended or defensive, or we can recognize that when our daughters are looking for ways to be different from us, it’s just them finding their own uniqueness.”
Look for connection opportunities. As our daughters get older, finding ways to spend time together can be important. “Our time is another one of those things that they need from us,” McMenamin said. “I suggest looking for opportunities to do something together with her … and let her know she’s a priority.”
To hear more about having a strong relationship with our daughters from Cindi, listen to “Drawing Your Daughter’s Heart Closer to Yours” on the “You’ve Got This” podcast.