You Are Exactly What Your Daughter Needs
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 teen client’s parents should be kept out of therapy. There are good reasons for this (and there are some circumstances that call for this approach to be used exclusively).
But I found that, in a majority of cases, I got faster results when I supported the mother-daughter relationship as a whole–which entailed fostering not just their connection and attachment to each other, but also helping the mothers manage stress.
Of course, the teens I worked with had to trust me first, before they could be vulnerable with their mothers in counseling. Those teens often came to me with symptoms of depression and anxiety and, occasionally, were actively committing self harm. But once they discovered I wanted to and could help them, the real work began.
That is when I found I could be even MORE effective in helping teens by working with their mothers as my primary clients.
This is where it got really exciting.
You see, I had always noticed that many of these teen girl’s moms were the most dedicated and loving parents.
But somehow, things got off track.
As I learned more about their lives, it was clear that these moms were maxed out: stress was compromising their ability to manage the relationship with their daughters in the way they wanted.
So many mothers I met just needed extra time to decompress, reflect on what their goals with their daughters were, and learn some basics about teen development, communication, and psychology.
When a mother is supported, she is better able to support her daughter. Once these mothers had courageously identified the ways in which they were sabotaging their goals, they were off to a new successful start.
I have helped many moms of preteens and teens avoid classic pitfalls altogether by simply educating them and consulting with them on classic conflicts between mothers and teen daughters and how to avoid them.
I’d like to do the same for you.
The mother-daughter relationship is too powerful and special to be bogged down by years of conflict or estrangement. You have too much support to offer her, too much to prepare her for before she launches into the adult world.
There is a myth in our culture that the mother and teen daughter relationship will be strained as she individuates as an adult.
But I don’t think that is true.
Sure, there will be discomfort and conflict at times but, rather than becoming someone she wants to avoid, you can still position yourself as her most trusted ally, and maintain a connection with your daughter on her journey to adulthood. This is not only good for her, it’s also something that’s deeply connected to the journey of all women throughout this world.
I know that seems like a big leap from parenting to the state of the world for women in our country, but it’s not.
Young women in our culture have so much potential and possibility, but emotional turmoil and lack of preparation to skillfully navigate the less than friendly aspects of our world slows our girls down.
When a mother-daughter relationship demonstrates the value of community and kinship, when a teen feels both valued and supported as a result, that young woman has a blueprint on how to care for other women in her life. She knows how to be in a relationship with others even in the midst of conflict or hurt feelings.
She knows she is valuable and her mother is valuable; therefore, all women are valuable. When a young woman feels deep connection and value with herself and other women around her, she will feel emboldened to advocate for the lives of all women.
But we’ll start by focusing exclusively on your relationship with your daughter.
It is my life’s passion to support and be a voice for teenagers who are hurt or misunderstood. I believe that our teenagers should expect our mentorship. I can’t think of a more valuable way to spend my life than sharing my love and wisdom with the next generation so they can thrive.
I look forward to continuing this journey with you.
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I would be honored to have the opportunity to learn more about your journey as a mother and to share my discoveries that allow mothers to create enviable mother-daughter relationships.
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Warm spring wishes,
Josie Bohling, MFT