We are often asked what are the most important things a mother teaches daughter. A mother teaches many things, and it isn’t what she SAYS that is often most important – it’s what she DOES. So the very best tip we can give you is to live your life the way you want your daughters to live theirs. That way it will feel familiar to them, and your example will be something they fall back on, especially in times of stress or uncertainty.
We can’t over-state the importance of the mother-daughter relationship. Here we will give you tips for how to influence your daughter based on the values you consciously choose to pass down to her. At the same time, your daughter will grow up to be a woman with thoughts and opinions of her own.
Nothing will jeopardize your mother-daughter relationship more than trying to control or shape your daughter into something she doesn’t want to be. So while we will give you tips for influencing her, recognize that it is just that, influencing. To have the very best mother-daughter relationship, you must let her go, usually around the time she becomes a teenager. You must support her in making her own decisions. You must be sure she knows you love her unconditionally – for the person she is.
Nothing will damage or prevent a close relationship between the two of you more than her feeling like you don’t love her or you love her “despite” her not being everything you want her to be. To prevent this from happening, it is important to focus on values and not outcomes.
By this we mean, focus on passing down a commitment to education and your hard work ethic instead of forcing her into becoming a lawyer or scientist, or business woman like you. With an education and commitment to hard work she will seek out and flourish in the career of her choice. If she happens to want the same career as you, great! Just be sure that she knows you will love and respect her no matter what career she chooses or how many children she decides to have.
Next we present a variety of scenarios to get your creative juices flowing. Some are a little provocative - on purpose – we want to get you thinking about what you value most in life both for yourself and for your children. Read thru the following scenarios and then create a list of the interests and values you want to pass on to your daughter(s).
For each interest or value, list the activities that you currently pursue that support it. Then brainstorm for new activities you might want to consider as well - not necessarily right this moment - but activities you might want to consider for the future as well. What do you think is most important mother teaches daughter?
From the time your daughter is an infant you will be teaching your daughter about unconditional love. Studies have repeatedly shown that you can screw up almost everything as a parent, but your daughter and your relationship will likely survive as long as your daughter knows that she has your unconditional love.
You can best demonstrate your unconditional love thru hugs and saying “I love you” with no strings attached. When she is still very young, get in the habit of letting her know that even when you are angry with her, you still love her and that you always will.
Here’s a tip some of us learned the hard way - If you can, come up with a couple code words or gestures that you both understand mean “I love you”. These will come in handy later when she is a teenager and doesn’t want overt demonstrations of love, especially in front of her friends. With your code words and gestures, you can still maintain your “lifeline” of love during her more difficult times.
While growing up, a daughter can’t help but notice what activities her mother pursues and what her mother’s role is in the family. The same way that boys look to their father for a model for living, girls do the same with their mothers. When stressed, people often fall back on what occurred in their own family growing up - which is why abuse, violence and alcoholism tend to run in families.
Even when children make a conscious effort not to repeat patterns, they will often fall back on bad models from their childhood when they are stressed, overly emotional or feeling trapped. So take a moment to think about what your role is in the family. What are your major contributions? Are they in alignment with what you want your daughter to value?
How do you feel about school? Did you go to college? Did you finish high school? The choices you make about your own schooling will have a great impact on what your daughter sees as her own choices. If you obtained a college degree, your daughter will see firsthand that obtaining a college degree is something she can aspire to. If you have a college degree, you will likely give off the impression that it is normal for people to finish high school and then move onto college.
What if you didn’t go to college, but you desperately want your daughter to go to college? The very best thing you can do to demonstrate the value of education is to take classes yourself. Even if it isn’t possible for you to complete a degree, by taking classes at your local community college you are demonstrating thru your actions that learning and education are important.
The choices you make for yourself are especially influential when it comes to your chosen work. Do you work outside of the home? Is your career something you do out of necessity (for the money) or because you love your work? Did you “fall into” your career or did you choose it? Would you rather be doing something else? Do you resent having to work? Your educational level and your feelings about your career will greatly influence what your daughter sees as options in her own life.
For example, a girl growing up with a mother that has an advanced degree and full-time career will learn first-hand that she has opportunities and independence in a way that a stay-at-home mother cannot demonstrate by example. She will also develop a strong sense of how to balance career and family – even though the balance she chooses for her own life may not be what her own mother demonstrated.
When the daughter of a stay-at-home mother who never finished high school gets her degree and goes to work, she will have to figure it out how to balance her career and family on her own or model her life after other women influences in her life - since her mother didn’t personally provide an example for how to do it. She may struggle more when finding the right work/life balance and she may even grow up feeling guilty for wanting more from her life than what satisfied her mother.What might you do to empower your daughter and to help her make the right choices for herself? If you want to help your child to pursue a career when you didn’t, then the best thing you can do is connect your daughter with positive influences – other women that can act as mentors and provide advice – so that your daughter can see firsthand that it can be done as well as how to do it. You can also take the opportunity provided by having grown children to pursue a career or other passion of your own! The most important thing a daughter needs is her mother’s love and encouragement!
What is the most important thing you want to teach your daughter?
What is the most important thing that your mother taught you and how did she do it?
Do you have any tips for cultivating a strong mother-daughter relationship?