Sometimes it seems as if nothing you do is right, from your daughter's point of view. In this case, just be confident that those days will pass too. What can help is having a good relationship with yourself, so you do not rise or fall with the emotional roller-coaster ride your daughter will have to take—sooner or later—to grown into the fine girl she will eventually become.
According to the New York-based therapist Juanita Johnson, the best gift a mother can give her daughter as she develops and becomes an adult is permission to be herself. As a result, a daughter can be who she wants to be because the mother is who she wants to be.
If you are a mother of a girl who suddenly is very critical of you, realize that she is maturing. While examining some characteristics in you—some of which she may see emerging in herself—she may be surprised. Criticism of a mother is a girl's attempt to find traits to adore and adopt. In a way, it is a flattering development. If she did not care, she would simply overlook you.
Do you remember the day your mother fell off her pedestal? Suddenly one day you saw her as the most out-of-touch frump in the world. Even her best shoes made you shudder. Yet a few years later, you changed your opinion of her again drastically. As you hit your twenties, you saw her again the way you did at age eight or nine-as the best mom in the whole world.
Mark Twain said that when he was a boy of fourteen, his father was so ignorant that he could hardly stand to be around him. But when he became twenty-one years old, he was astonished at how much his father had learned in seven years.
It is only natural in the creation of a strong mother-daughter bond that tension will occur to test the threads that make up the bond. That tension helps your connection with your girl prevail over any temporary kinks or knots that creep in. Now as a mother, you may find it difficult to see yourself dethroned overnight but feel relieved. You can be a real person now, not someone so elevated in your daughter's eyes that you fear making a mistake.
Trust that you will make mistakes, and not only as a mother. You are human, and as your daughter changes, so do you. Get out your old yearbooks and prove it. Show her pictures of yourself with bad hair and geeky outfits. Laugh with her over your first dance dress and your first date. Do not be surprised if your daughter acts like a chameleon. One day she giggles with you and sees your point; the next she gives you that look that says, "Mom!" Just remember that you have years of experience as a parent, and it is your job to keep your eyes on the big picture. Often the more volatile your relationship with your daughter is at times, the better it will turn out to be when she is older.
My daughter keeps telling me she hates me. What should I do?
Tell her, enough! She does not have to repeat herself. You heard her the first time. When she has calmed down, ask her why she hates you, acknowledge her feelings, and do what you can to mitigate the conflict, if possible. Most of all, tell her you love her enough for both of you.
Give her a little extra TLC whenever she makes you feel you cannot please her:
- Put a surprise present—small and just right—on her pillow.
- Mail her a funny card with a five-dollar bill for a tiny treat.
- Leave a special message on her cell phone.
- Give her a diary with a big lock and key and tell her to use it to "spill her guts."
Count on this: Confrontations, accusations, and emotional outbursts from your daughter show that you are on the right track with her. Often it all depends on your and her personality types. Some mothers and daughters show little friction in their relationship overall. Others have a run-in every other week, but how can you expand your parenting skills if you are not confronted with new challenges?
Think of raising your girl as a wonderful adventure. Certainly there will be a few nerve-racking moments. Otherwise it would not be an adventure. So assume that the generations will clash now and then at your house, and be ready for it. Call it the pangs of your daughter becoming herself.