3 strategies for being present with your teen daughter

To your daughter, being present means the world.  Photo: Krisitna Wagner

To your daughter, being present means the world. Photo: Krisitna Wagner

As girls transition into teens, they gradually move further away from you.  

And as a parent, this can be a frightening time! You spend all her life giving her the tools to go off on her own someday. But when she takes those first few steps, panic sets in.  

The reality is, you begin the journey of letting her go the moment you drop her off at her first day of school or any place without your supervision. You have to trust that outside influences will be positive and in alignment with who you are and how you are raising her. However, the teen years are traditionally a time of increasing independence.

Allowing her to grow and soar is inevitable. But there is one way to make sure you maintain the connection and bond with her.

And that is the gift of being present.  

The most powerful lessons in life are usually the most simple. A daughter is one of your greatest treasures. And being truly present with her will allow her to have strong roots and a solid foundation to build upon.  

And although you have been there for her all along, with all the changes she is experiencing, now is a crucial time to maintain and further strengthen that connection.

So, what does it mean to be present with your teen daughter?

I remember, many years ago, my friend Alana’s mom gave me some of the best advice. I really respected the bond she had with her girls and something she said always remained with me.

She told me that when her girls had something to share with her, she would react as though it was the most important thing in the world. It was so simple, yet really powerful. Because in order to do that, you have to be truly listening.  

And why wouldn’t we listen when our teen daughters are speaking? It’s not that we don’t listen intentionally. It’s that many times, we have a thousand ideas and to-do’s swirling around in our heads. We are balancing jobs, households, other children, and possibly even pets. On top of that, we are so hyper-connected to everything else through the technological advances of social media that we rarely have a moment to sit down and connect in real-time.  

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Our daughters need that, and the truth is we do too. While there never seems to be enough time in the day, you won’t regret slowing down and being fully attentive to what your daughter is saying. Give her that real-life face-time with you that she needs.  

Really look her in the eyes

Another way to be present is by really looking at her, seeing her, and acknowledging her.

Nothing spells love like being validated. And one way to really show up for your teen daughter 100% is to look into her beautiful eyes during your exchange.  

Have you noticed that most people don’t look at you when you are speaking to them nowadays? In fact, if you grew up in New York City, like me, that is the most basic rule of getting around – don’t look people in the eyes. However, if you really check in with yourself, this is so counterintuitive! In fact, some of the most magical moments I have personally experienced involved eye contact.  

They do say the eyes are the gateway to the soul, so it’s important to address that part of her. Eye contact reinforces safe attachment and has an overall calming effect. You will remind her of her importance without needing to say a thing.  

Don’t interrupt her

Speaking of not saying a thing, whatever you do, don’t interrupt her!  

This is a hard one for me. I always feel like I am bursting to add something to the conversation, dish out some sage advice, or simply chime in. However, this will make your daughter feel as if what she is saying is not important.  

As humans, we have lost the importance of listening with the intent of understanding. Rather, we listen with the intent of responding. Allow your daughter to get through everything she needs to say and then acknowledge and respond. It’s ok to smile and nod so she is aware that you are paying attention. But wait until she’s finished before giving your verbal feedback.

What are your thoughts?

Has your teen daughter given you any feedback on your exchanges?  

Is there one thing she is always saying to you that you can take to heart and make changes on? 

The most important thing to take away is that it is ok to ask your daughter what she needs from you at any given moment.  As adults, we feel seen and heard in different ways, so do our daughters.  

Never be afraid to check in – this is true of any relationship.

I would love to hear what you would add to the list and what has strengthened the connection between you and your girl. Let me know in the comments below!