Our precious mother-daughter relationships will continue to change as our individual needs shift. If we adjust positively to the process, we can enjoy the sweet fruits of a truly unique and powerful connection.
1. See them as they are now.
As a mother, you may worry if you guided her well before and if she’s making wise decisions now. Instead, be at peace. Focus on what you’ve taught and let her practice. When we hover or point out what they’re not doing or should be doing, we hinder their personal growth and confidence even at this stage. Give them some wiggle room.
When I was in college, I attempted to fulfill my dream of becoming a ballerina (*insert painful smiles from supportive friends*). I took a ballet class with a wonderful teacher. However, she would walk down our formation at the barre pointing out what we were doing wrong. One day I stood at the barre trying to keep the position. I knew what I was doing wrong but I just couldn’t do it right at the time. On that particular day, I knew I could not handle if she said something. Holding my breath, she stood next to me, paused, said nothing and moved on. To this day, I am grateful for a teacher that gave me wiggle room. We can do that for each other as mothers and daughters.
2. Celebrate and connect in small joys, big experiences.
No matter the age difference, you are both still on your personal growth journeys. Celebrate the happy moments together and plan experiences that keep you connected.
Though my mother lives out of state, she’s ironically been at many pivotal personal experiences. And we’ve made memories. Years ago for Back to Basics, I did a women’s day conference. The morning of, Fox News had scheduled us to come in for a two-minute promotion. On our drive to Salt Lake we received an apologetic call from the producer that the program was overbooked. We turned around to go back.
However, I told my mom we should give it a minute and see (i.e. drive slowly). Sure enough a few minutes later they called and said, “It’s back on if you can get here in time.” We turned around again, me driving while Mom primped my hair and a friend refreshed my makeup! The whole experience was hilarious and memorable, being with each other in the thick of the fun.
Conversely, I’ve been there to celebrate her overcoming challenges, cheer her new therapy office and brainstorm ideas for a boomer dating book. Sharing these touch-points along the way has kept us close and connected.
3. Be real with each other.
Often in the relationship someone feels the need to tolerate, bide their time, or play nice until a visit is over. To a degree, that may be necessary in some form in any relationship. But to create a deeper relationship, we need to baby step toward gentle honesty.
For example, my mother invited me on a trip back to the “old country” (Scotland). Though I have turned her down twice (due to the age of my youngest at the time), we’re finally going. We’re excited — even giddy — about this opportunity to share a once-in-a-lifetime experience. And, we both have addressed the reality. We have spent time communicating specifics like the pace of travel, individually desired sites, how much to pack and even how to deal with daily finances. These nitty-gritty conversations are essential to creating a real and honest relationship — a dose of humor helps, too.
Consider one of these ways to strengthen and nurture your mother-daughter relationship. And thoroughly enjoy the regenerating fruits, both now and in the future.
Connie Sokol is an author, presenter, TV contributor and mother of seven. Contact her at www.conniesokol.com.