Relationships, even great mother-daughter relationships, need consistent nurturing and care to thrive. Unless you are an exception to this rule – in which case, please tell me your secret 😉 – then you might be looking for new ways to grow your relationship with your YAD.
My mother and I had quite a bit of trouble finding a system that worked and made us both feel loved and cared for. I hope you can skip some of the difficulties we grew through by using this list as a place to start! These are all things that help make our own relationship the strong and healthy one we enjoy now.
1. Pray For Her
Do you pray for your daughter, every day? Let her know you are praying for her. Not in an “I’m praying for God to change you” type of way, but in an “I’m supporting you with everything I have and praying that God will work wonders for you in your life” type of way. If she is open to it, ask what specific ways you can be lifting her up!
When you are feeling discouraged and defeated, there is something gloriously wonderful about knowing your mother is going to battle for you in prayer.
2. Call Her
Even if you live close together, try giving her a call once a week! This doesn’t have to be a long call, and try to shy away from making it about getting info from her. Find a good balance between being interested in her world, but also sharing about your world as well. No daughter wants to feel she is being checked up on or micromanaged by her mother. But a mother who expresses a genuine interest in hearing about her daughter’s life is such a blessing.
Give it time though, and don’t be surprised if she responds suspiciously or is reserved at the beginning. Trust takes time to earn!
3. Take a Workout Class Together
Happy endorphins 😉 This is a fun, bonding experience for the two of you, and a chance to support and encourage each other mutually. Don’t make this about losing weight or self-improvement. I once heard someone say that she loved the idea of approaching exercising from the point of view that it was something fun, new, challenging, and exciting to try. As opposed to viewing a workout as a shameful activity that you only do when you are disappointed or unhappy with your body. What a healthy approach to fitness!
If your daughter would not be thrilled about working out together, maybe suggest grabbing a coffee and going on an outside walk together.
4. Find Her Love Language
Everybody has something different that says love to them! Do you really know which type of affection, or appreciation makes your daughter feel valued and loved by you? If you just answered no, then I would recommend you figure that out right away. Without knowing her love language, all the – even the nice and wonderful – things you are doing could be meaningless if it doesn’t speak love to her. They might even be driving her further away (for instance, words of affirmation for someone who’s love language is acts of service).
If you want a fun challenge, take the quiz together to discover each other’s love language.
5. Treat Her to Lunch
Mother-daughter dates shouldn’t be just for special occasions! Take her out for lunch, coffee, dinner, or dessert and spend the time engaged with her in that moment. Put away your cellphone for this. Nothing is worse than having your mother make an effort to spend time with you, only to have her on and off her phone the entire time. It will frustrate her more than if you had never even asked her to spend time with you.
Have some fun and interesting questions to ask her, be genuinely interested in her. Be careful not to treat the meeting as an interrogation or quiz! If you are sincere in your interest but have ulterior motives in your questioning, she will be able to tell.
6. Send Her an Encouraging Text
When was the last time you sent her a sweet, thoughtful, or encouraging text to your daughter? This is such a simple action but can mean so much. Something little, to let her know you are thinking of her, and love her deeply.
- “You’re the best!”
- “I love you.”
- “I really appreciated you doing X.”
- “When you do X it made me feel so loved!”
- “I think X is an incredibly admirable quality you have.”
- “I’m blessed to have you as my daughter.” (bonus points if this one is sent with lots of hearts and kissey faces)
7. Support Her
Does she have a dream she’s working towards? Believe in it with her. Verbally & practically when possible.
Does she have a goal she’s working towards? Encourage her. Verbally & practically when possible.
Does she have a talent or skill? Admire and compliment it. Verbally & practically when possible.
8. Take Her Side
I don’t know that I can emphasize this enough. This is SO IMPORTANT for your relationship! Does your daughter know, without question, that you are not only on her side but that if an issue arose, you would take her side? This world is going to beat her down every chance it gets. Does she know you are on her team, no matter what?
- You’re not pretty enough
- You’re not skinny enough
- You don’t have enough friends
- You aren’t successful in the way you should be
- Your dreams aren’t attainable
- Your opinions do not matter
- Your intelligence is not respected
- You are UNLOVED & UNWANTED
Every day, she will face these messages and more! She needs at least one person on her team. Are you that person for her? Do you have her back? Does she know you would stand up for her, no matter what the cost? I don’t encourage blind trust or support here. You don’t have to compromise on the truth, or instruction when she’s maybe going in the wrong direction. But this world is a difficult place to survive in as a Christian woman, and if you want to have a place in her life where she’ll listen to you, first and foremost you need to be on her team.
9. Respect Her
Once your daughter becomes an adult, you do not have the same either responsibility or right to control her life. Give her instruction or advice where appropriate, and then step back and let her make the decision. Does she make a mistake that stemmed from immaturity? Don’t berate or belittle her, support her, and let her learn from her mistake. Putting her down will not encourage different behavior in the future, but timely, wise advice where possible, along with a lot of love can truly make a wondrous difference.
10. Daughter + Friend
What do you place on your daughter? What responsibility does she feel towards you?
“Make sure your daughter doesn’t feel a responsibility to make her mother feel whole.” – S.H
Think about that, consider what that might look like practically, right now for you and your daughter. If your daughter is more of a mother to you then you are to her, there is something broken in the relationship. Your daughter should never feel that it is her job to be your sole support and person whom you rely on. Don’t allow your daughter to feel that your happiness is reliant on her.
At the end of the day, any mother-daughter relationship can be an incredible blessing and system of mutual caring and love!
If you’re going through a hard season in your relationship with your young adult daughter, take heart. It might take a little love, and a lot of patience, but restoration and a dramatic change for the better is possible between the two of you.