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Surprise: You and your daughter aren’t speaking the same language!
Actually, that's only a surprise if you believe that you and your daughter understand each other all the time. Quite simply, there are times when your daughter says something and you totally misinterpret her intent. Communication can be compromised when you don’t respond in the way she intended you to.
When that happens, your daughter may not be as willing to ask you a question the next time she has one, or to share a feeling that is bothering her. You want to avoid this situation when you can, as she needs your support and advice so much during her teen years.
There is a really insightful article on the Always website titled: “What She REALLY Means.” This article lists several statements that a teen girl may say to her mom.
For example, she may say something like: "Brittany's mom lets her stay out late, go places alone, etc."
What she really means is: “I wish we shared the same trust that many of my friends seem to share with their parents. What can we do to establish and build upon this trust? I want you to teach me in a way I can understand.”
When I read that, I thought of what I might have first said to my daughter. It would probably be something like, “I am not Brittany’s mom, I am your mom. And what I say goes.” How bad is that? While true, it would totally shut my daughter down. Of course, she often feels responsible enough to do more, but in that situation I wasn’t listening, therefore making her feel like a child. While I’m very far away from my teen years, I know that if I had been made to feel like a child, I would have avoided further dialogue - and I often did.
Most parents want to know what their daughters are feeling and experiencing. They want their daughters to know they can ask them anything and that they are there to support them through the angst of puberty. The key for us parents, is to listen, listen, and listen some more. Look at your daughter’s body language, hear the tone of her words and listen beyond her words to hear what she really means. If you do that, you will be much closer to really connecting with her issues and concerns.
Any suggestions for other moms on how to really listen to better understand? No doubt you will help another mom of a teen girl - and her daughter.
Elaine Plummer is a health expert for Always and Tampax.