Listening to and talking with your daughter is key to a healthy relationship. Effective communication can help both of you feel happier and more connected. Communication and connection help your daughter gain confidence in navigating all of the relationships in her life and increases her ability to resolve conflicts.
- Find time in the “in-betweens” of life. This could be driving to school, cooking together and other times where it is more comfortable chatting without eye contact. These opportunities can be helpful because we are not looking directly at each other. And this arrangement can be incredibly effective.
- Accept how she communicates. She may need to simply complain and express her emotions, while at other times she may feel ready to talk through her struggles.
- Be calm. Some things she shares will be intense and some things will be trivial. No matter what she shares, be aware of how you are reacting and let her know that you are there. As Ms. Zink says, “Don’t get on the rollercoaster.”
- Actively listen. Open conversations by sharing your own stories and then listen to your daughters’. Ask open-ended questions like, “How did that make you feel?” and be attentive to her responses.
- Avoid jumping in with advice. Instead ask her “What do you think is the best thing to do now” or “What are you going to do about that?” Later on, you can ask her how it played out by adding, “what have we learned?”
It may be helpful to ask your daughter what she wants or needs from you in a conversation, whether that be advice, a sounding-board, or help in dealing with feelings or problem-solving.
Remember to show empathy, be available, understanding and supportive.