One Practical Way to Connect With Your Daughter
“My daughter won’t talk to me.”
I hear this from many of my moms. Yes it is challenging at times. But there is a way your daughter will talk to you but you may need to change your approach.
It’s important to evaluate ‘how” you try to talk to your daughter. If all your communication with your daughter is monitoring her behavior, checking up on her and pressuring her to tell you the truth, she is going to be big time guarded.
Instead of having forced conversations, you can be available for Spontaneous Conversations.
Spontaneous Conversations are initiated by your daughter when she is relaxed. These conversations can feel like a waste of time because your daughter is being silly or playful.
It’s quite the contrary. These types of conversations are foundational for having a good connection with your daughter.
The conversation starts off in the shallow waters. She may tell you about something ‘stupid’ her teacher said. This may not be interesting you, but you need to meet her where she’s at. You want your daughter talking to you in an easy and relaxed way.
A lot of time moms dismiss ‘spontaneous conversations’ as not important.
“Of course she will talk to me when it’s about something that doesn’t matter but when I try to talk about her grades she won’t talk.”
Even the things we think are goofy and insignificant are important to her. She has to trust you with the little things before she lets you into the big things.
Trust me, if you start out in the shallow waters she will go in the deep waters with you.
I supervised psychiatry residents in a medical school for 19 years. I would observe beginning residents behind a 2 way mirror. One resident I supervised was having her first session with Beth a 16 year old girl. Beth had just been discharged from a psychiatric hospital for a suicide attempt. I instructed the resident to start with a neutral question like, “Do you play sports? Are you involved in any activities?” During the first session the resident got nervous and forgot what I just told him. The first thing he asked Beth is, “Do you have any suicidal ideations?” (which is a typical Psychiatry question to ask.) The problem is, Beth walled him off right away and wouldn’t talk to him.
The psychiatry resident needed help. I went in the room and asked Beth what she liked to do for fun. She told me she liked to play volleyball. I asked her more questions about volleyball. She let down her guard and told me what she loved about the game and bragged about her ‘mean’ serve. Because Beth was relaxed she started talking spontaneously. Fifteen minutes later she brought up the suicide attempt and told me why she would never try that again. Only when she felt relaxed and safe could she open up.
What works with Beth will work with your daughter. Let your daughter initiate the conversation and talk about something she is comfortable with. The bonus is that she will give you more information than she planned when she is relaxed. Watching a simple You Tube video can lead to her sharing her true feeling about her boyfriend. When you don’t force it, the conversation naturally evolves.
Other benefits from Spontaneous Conversations
Spontaneous Conversations make good deposits in your daughter’s emotional bank.
Every “Spontaneous Conversation” you have with your daughter makes a positive deposit in your daughter’s emotional bank. Filling up her emotional bank with good experiences strengthens your relationship. This is because she experiences your care, comfort, interest, approval and delight.
Spontaneous Conversations help get you through the bad times.
These good deposits soften the hard times. If her overall experience of you is positive, your relationship will bounce back quicker after a disagreement. She may be mad at you but she will be more motivated to repair the relationship. No communication creates a strained connection. When you are in a disagreement, she will be more likely to react and rebel, because there is no motivation to repair.
Spontaneous Conversations build a bridge of connection.
Spontaneous Conversations build a bridge of connection that gets you through the hard times. You want your teenager to know (no matter what) you are there for her and love her. This bridge of connection keeps her protected. You want her to be able to come to you at any time. This is her safety net. You don’t want her finding support and guidance solely from peers. She needs input from adults.
I have talked to so many girls, in trouble and want help, but they are afraid to talk to their families. They’re scared of their parent’s reactions. They don’t know how to ask for help and they don’t want to feel ashamed.
Make it easy for them to come to you when they are in crises. Teenage girls with their impulsivity find themselves in situations that are dangerous. She needs to know that you will pick her up from a party, if the driver is drunk. You don’t want her getting in the car with an impaired driver.
Spontaneous Conversations give her a big gift.
You are giving her the gift of your attention and care. You are listening to her! You are reflecting back to her that she matters and her stories matter. She feels you like her and enjoy her. She feels safe and secure in your presence.
Spontaneous Conversations are good for you
It helps you with the like factor. Of course you love your daughter but this allows you to like her. This is a chance to see the fun and relaxed side of your daughter. It keeps you current with her daily life. It allows you to see your daughter in a new way!
What’s my part in Spontaneous Conversations?
- Get curious about her world.
- Let her direct it. Don’t take the lead.
- Don’t ask too many questions.
- This is not the time to lecture. You can do that another time. Keep it positive.
- Be responsive. Show appropriate affect. Laugh if she is funny. Validate her feelings.
- Let her know you are on her side.
- Give her prompts that you are listening like wow, really.
- Keep this conversation light. You can have the harder conversations at another time.
- Relax and enjoy. If you give her 15-20 minutes of your time and you are truly present she will be satisfied
Have a Great Spontaneous Conversation this Week!