Have you ever had your daughter blow up at you when you were offering sage advice? Probably not, but it used to happen to me, and all that wise advice would go to waste.
That is, until my Darling Daughter informed me that she didn’t want my advice.
Well, for goodness sakes, why not?
Because it wasn’t what she needed right then. Somehow her exasperated explanation pierced through my indignation (and feelings of rejection), and I actually heard her. She talked, and I listened.
Sometimes my Distressed Daughter just needs a sympathetic ear. Sometimes it’s a shoulder to cry on. Sometimes she needs to royally rant about a perceived hurt. Sometimes she wants to shyly share feelings about a boy. And, sometimes… sometimes she wants my advice! (Be still, my foolish heart.)
Now that I understood, it was easy going forward, right? After all, I have an analytical science brain. I could figure it out the role she needed me to play based on:
- her words
- her expression
- the tone of her voice
- her body language
- the time of day
- her outfit
- the wind direction
- what she was eating
- how she clutched the cat
- the day of the week
- the number of times we had spoken that day
- the number of times she said “like”
- her astrological sign
- the number of…
Okay, I was guessing based on scientific observation, and it wasn’t working for me. Neither were her emotional eruptions when I veered out of my lane.
Solution? I asked her what role she wanted me to play. Yup, I went right to the source. (Revolutionary, isn’t it?)
HER: Mom, I want to talk to you!
ME: What role am I filling here?
HER: I just want you to listen.
(I was listening.)
Sometimes the smoothly flowing interaction would screech to a halt when I’d jump in with timely advice, until I learned that when she wanted me to just listen, I should just listen.
It took a while, but eventually our relationship jumped up a level. After months of sticking to my roles, our conversations progressed, and sometimes she would say, “Okay, Mom, you can give me some advice now.”
Now my Delightful Daughter lives on the other side of the country, but we talk regularly. Here’s a snippet from today’s conversation, which prompted this article:
HER: Mom, what should I do?
ME: This is what you could try…
HER: But what if…?
ME: Then try this…
HER: Wow! My headache just disappeared!
ME: Score one for Mommy Magic!
Our daughters want us to be there for them, and more importantly, they want us to know what we’re doing. Being transparent worked for me and my girl, so it could very well work for you.
Are you ready to embrace your Multiple Mom Roles? This is a marathon, not a sprint, so start slowly. Introduce the concept to her at a time while nothing is going on. Give her time to mull it over. Then, give it a go the next time she brings something up.
Your Charming Cherub may not be able to define the role she needs from you the first time you ask her, so be ready with some suggestions.
- Advice giver?
- Warm shoulder?
- Peer Friend who doesn’t judge?
- Adult Friend who may not approve but won’t criticize?
There is always the possibility that she will be so emotionally embroiled in her issue that she won’t have the presence of mind to identify the role she needs from you. That’s okay, too. Let her know she can tell you when it becomes clear to her, even after the conversation is underway.
Over time the way you converse will morph into what you both want. You’re gonna love it!
For more ideas, check out How To Keep Your Daughter From Slamming the Door. It’s available for preorder on Smashwords. Enjoy!