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Guidelines for a Mother's Reactions to Teenage Daughters

One very important factor that should drive many of your reactions at this point in time is your daughter's newly developed capacity for suffering humiliation, says author Teri Apter. You may never guess why she is completely humiliated-breaks down in tears, feels totally crushed and overwhelmingly embarrassed, and possibly retreats from you. Unknowingly, experts say, even the tone of sincerely spoken praise or misinterpreted signs of motherly friendship can pierce your daughter like a sharp knife and be resented for a lengthy period of time.

That's how important your validation is!


A survey of 500 women conducted by Bruskin/Golding Research revealed that daughters apologize first more often than moms after a battle. Forty-seven percent of daughters said, "I'm sorry" before their moms, 29 percent of the moms before their daughters.

Eleven Steps of Motherly Reassurance

To help portray the proper message, here is what moms should be working on:

  1. Showing and giving all the empathy you can muster.
  2. Trying to be more accommodating than your daughter during this time in your relationship.
  3. Seeing more clearly when your daughter needs help in problem-solving, dealing with her peers, or feeling the comfort of your sympathy.
  4. Achieving a delicate balance of watching but not intruding, and understanding but not misunderstanding.
  5. Showing that you trust your daughter's ability to make sound judgments.
  6. Making sure that you aren't holding on too tightly.
  7. Realizing that you have a big potential to humiliate her in front of friends.
  8. Showing your approval to convincingly validate your daughter's new self.
  9. Being fully alert to the fact that during this era mothers and daughters are prone to misunderstand one another.
  10. Allowing your daughter to have more control over decision making. Stop seeing this as a sign of rejection or being argumentative.
  11. Accepting that disagreements should sometimes be considered part of a process in which your daughter is trying to change your older, habitual responses to fit who she is now. She may take pride in these battles.

Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Mothers and Daughters © 2001 by Rosanne Rosen. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

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