I cried the day I found out I was having a baby girl. And I'll tell you why.
When I was a teenager, every single friend I had greatly disliked their mother. And if she didn't dislike her, she couldn't understand her. All my friends felt that their mothers were out of touch with reality. They had zero connection with their mothers and their mothers with them.
I was deathly afraid of raising a girl that would later find me the same way that most of my friends had found their mothers.
(in case you're in shock that anyone would cry over having a baby girl, let me reduce your fears...she's amazing and I wouldn't have had it any other way)
Once I knew I would be having a girl, I set out on a mission to raise a daughter with a strong and solid connection.
And I've done just that. My daughter is connected to me and I to her, she confides in me, trusts me and talks to me about her life.
Here's how I was able to raise a strong young woman that feels connected to her mother.
From the moment she was born, whenever I was around other women, I would ask them if as a teenager, they found their mother someone they could confide in. Most would say no, but a few said yes.
To those that said yes, I asked what their mother did that made them feel they could talk to her.
They all had the same answer.
It may have been said differently, but it was the same thing. They all said that their mother would listen, truly listen, without judgement.
I took that advice dear to my heart.
From the moment my daughter could speak, I would listen. Actively listening. I would also reserve any judgement. I was mindful to not give unsolicited advice, I simply and lovingly listened.
I practice emphatic listening and reflect back to her what she shares with me and I validate her feelings and thoughts. I empathize with her and I truly...listen.
I Love Raising a Teen Daughter
I have been doing active listening with no judgement since she was a toddler. I'm not perfect, so I can tell you that along the way, I've messed up, but I've found amazing joy in actively listening to my daughter and in her confiding in me with her heart and soul.
She comes to me with her thoughts and feelings. She is not just my daughter, but also someone I genuinely enjoy spending time with.
And to my great joy, she seeks me out and wants to spend time with me as well.
I adore having a teenage daughter -- which is not something you hear often! But, I absolutely love it. I'd take 10 more of her.
All the women I met were right.
Listen, without judgement, be present, hold space for your child.
How to Practice Active Listening
Active listening is empathic listening, which is defined as a psycho-therapeutic technique that demonstrates unconditional acceptance and unbiased reflection of the person's experience through message paraphrasing.
Studies show that active listening results in:
- feeling understood
- stable relationships
- positive communication outcomes
- social attraction
Steps for Active Listening
1) Be Present: look at your child's eyes, let them know that your mind, body and spirit is present for what they have to share with you.
2) Verbally Paraphrase: repeat in your own words what your child has told you.
3) Ask Questions: if you don't understand a part, ask for clarification so that you can understand what they have to say.
4) Respond Appropriately: be mindful of their body language and reactions and respond likewise appropriately.
The beauty of raising a child that grows to be someone you enjoy, who seeks you out and who confides in you is that the steps to do so are exactly how you'd want to be listened to and how you'd like someone to interact with you.
P.S. for the mothers of 3+ more kids...I'm a mother of four and I can tell you that while it may be easier to do this as a mother of one or two children, you can achieve this when you have 3+ children. You've got this.
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