Category Archives: Improving Communication

How To Build Trust With Your Teen Daughter


Many parents focus on one question: “Can I trust my daughter?”


Can I trust my teenage daughter…

to be safe?

to makes good decisions?

to pick the right friends?

to not drink and drive?

to stay off her cell phone at night?


The list goes on and on.


But there’s another question that is just as fundamental.


Does your daughter trust you?


Her relationship with you and other parent-figures has the biggest influence on her growth and well-being.


If you really want to have an impact on how confident she feels in the world, focus on how supported, accepted and understood she feels at home. The quality of her relationship with you is a major factor in how she feels about herself as moves through her life. Cultivating and taking care of her feeling that she can trust you has an impact on her trust that she can talk to you about hard and confusing things in her life. Research shows that a teen girls ability to talk to you about things that make you angry or uncomfortable is one of the primary factors in helping your daughter feel confident and navigate this world safely


The Fights DO Have an Impact On Your Daughter


A young teenager I was working with once told me that she felt “worthless” when her mother yelled at her during a big fight. This girl was well-adjusted in her social life and her school life and was very well-loved overall. She was aware that her mother knew she’d taken it too far and that her mom really was working on being less reactive.


I was shocked to hear that this particular yelling match with her mother had hit her core confidence so deeply.


Sometimes when your teen joins you in yelling or gets defiant and acts like she doesn’t care, you begin to believe that you have no impact on them. But this could not be farther from the truth.


Just as your care and concern and demonstrations that you are sensitive to what she maybe going through is very important to her, so are the moments when you find it hard to be kind and supportive.


What you say and how you react matters in both positive and negative situations – even when she doesn’t acknowledge that it matters to her in the moment.


Reflection and Apologies Build Trust


Your relationship with your daughter will test you at every turn. There will always be moments you wish you’d handled better. And there will always be times when you feel so mad or tired that you push all the blame on to her rather than reflecting on the part you play in the situation.


But when the dust has settled on that difficult moment, I encourage you to review the situation and wonder:


”Is there anything that happened that may have decreased my daughter’s trust in me?”


When the answer is “yes,” you really can fix with a sincere:


“I’m sorry. I wish I had not said it that way. I’ll try to do it better next time.”


Your daughter wants to trust you. She needs to trust you. Give her the opportunity to feel that you want that for her too.

You may think your daughter has a long way to go to toward improving her communication skills and her decision making and curbing her impulsivity. But this is because she’s still young and these are exactly the skills she’s supposed to be learning right now. This stuff isn’t inherent and she needs a chance to practice. And she needs to be allowed to make mistakes


As a parent, the trick is to find a point of balance between high expectations and acceptance of where she is right now. You want her to take responsibility for her actions, but you also want to leave the door open so she will keep coming back to you for guidance and support.


Your teen desperately needs to feel like it is safe for her to be a work-in-progress.


So, does she trust you?

  • to follow through on your word.
  • to apologize when you make a mistake
  • to be respectful to her – even when you’re angry
  • to not be judgemental of her choices
  • to accept that her ways are different from you
  • to support her when she is struggling
  • to notice when she is sad
  • to slow down and just hang out

Trust Leads to Influence


When you have her trust, you can express concern over her choices or you can suggest how to be safe when she’s out with her friends – and she’ll listen. She’ll want to call you when she needs help.


Her trusting relationship with you is the essential blueprint for her to create close, trusting relationships with others. She will know in her bones that she is respected and valued by the primary people in her life.


Emphasize trust and be trustworthy yourself.


This is the most powerful way to ensure you’re the one she turns to when she is in trouble. Trust is the beginning of influence. Your positive influence is what empowers her to make the choices of a beautiful, confident young woman you know she was born to be.

Why All The Parenting Books In The World Won’t Help


How many books on raising teens have you read? In moments of real stress – those fiery arguments or displays or reckless, rebellious behavior – did the books really help? Like me, I bet your answer is “not really.” I worked supporting teens and families long before I became a mother myself. When I finallyContinue Reading

How Being A Teenager Has Prepared You To Understand Your Teen


                    What were your teenage years like? When you remember do you cringe or smile?   The way you remember your own teen years have a tremendous impact on how you parent your teenager.   This sort of reflection opens you up to empathy and empathyContinue Reading

You Are Exactly What Your Daughter Needs

Mother and daughters

Five years ago, I completely changed the way I worked with the teenage girls who came to me for support. Instead of only working with the girls, I began supporting their mothers, as well. In the field of mental health counseling, there is a strong belief that the relationship a counselor has with a teenContinue Reading

How To Turn Conflict With Your Teen Into a Calm Discussion

Mother and daughter

Negotiations around independence, boundaries, and responsibilities create the most conflict between teens and their parents. Developmentally, these negotiations are essential markers of their growing autonomy. Conflict is often a manifestation of your teen’s internal struggle with striving to become an adult while still wanting the support given to them as a child. In other words,Continue Reading

Seven Ways To Struggle Less With Consequences

Rules and Consequences

Have you been in this scenario before: Your daughter has just come home after curfew for the second time in a row. You are angry and begin telling her what the consequence of her actions will be. Suddenly, instead of being remorseful over her choices, she is now fighting you with more of an indignantContinue ReadingContinue Reading

Empowering Your Daughter’s Expressions of Anger or Disapproval

Teen anger management

In The Curse of the Good Girl, Rachel Simmons writes at length about the cultural pressures that require a girl to always act nice and look cute. These pressures put girls in a bind because it is not always possible or appropriate to remain nice and cute when they, in fact, have a range of otherContinue Reading

Do You Cross the Line Between Mom and Friend?

teen daughters

Ideally, you and your daughter will spend quality time together throughout her teen years. You will laugh together more than you fight and she will seek your support when she is upset and your counsel when she does not know how to handle a conflict with a friend. But what if your teenage daughter startsContinue Reading

Does your daughter’s sense of style offend you?

I hope this photo made you laugh! If not  you may be feeling like this teen and your daughter are sharing tips on rebellion. Sometimes daughters, in an effort to establish themselves as different, begin experimenting with clothes, music, or friendships they know will be met with their mother’s disapproval. Because of this teen developmentalContinue Reading

Creating Emotionally Responsible Exhanges with Your Teen

Mother-daughter conflict

As your daughter becomes a teen, her ability to understand adult concerns and relate with you on a variety of subjects increases. While talking about your experiences of the world can be a very fulfilling way to bond with your daughter, her new ability to relate to you may cause you to falsely conclude thatContinue Reading