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.