Do you ever ask yourself, “Where’s my lovely little girl gone?” or “Who is this person?”
Does your daughter seem more concerned about her friends, her appearance, her facebook, and her mobile than on being on good terms with you.
Is her behaviour at home becoming unreasonable, unrecognisable and intolerable?
Then you need to win her back.
Somewhere along the line you have stopped being her relied-upon support, her trusted advocate, and her sympathetic listening ear. If her peers have taken over this role then you need to win her back. Not to try to be her best friend, but to become the best parent for her. A parent who feels like they are on her side. A parent who wants to understand her point of view. But also a parent who is able to be firm, reasonable, and committed. Teenagers feel safest when their parents are actively involved in their lives. Even when they are baulking at your restrictions and cursing your demands on them, they feel held and secure.
Her peers are not the best people to guide your daughter through to adulthood. They themselves are on that same journey, and teenage relationships can be volatile, fickle and brutal, as well as fun, supportive, and empowering. You truly are her best bet.
This does not mean that her peer group are not important, you can see that they are, and that can be a wonderfully supportive thing for a teenager. The test is whether you and they are in competition with one another. Is she willing to have her friends over? Do you have a relationship with her friends? Or does she only met them out, or disappear straight up into her room with them. That would ring alarm bells.
So, how do you win her back?
Go away with her for a few days. Just the two of you. Treat her, take her out of school even. Leave your work and any other commitments behind – no matter how hard this may be to organise – you want to let her know how important to you your relationship with her is.
While you are away, create situations where she has to rely on you again. Do something together that requires cooperation, perhaps where you have some prior experience. I hesitate before suggesting anything as it needs to suit the pair of you and I do not want to limit your imagination. Examples of mother-daughter adventures that have been successful are pot-holing, a cookery course, canoeing, a trip to Paris, walking home from some unknown destination, making a film of childhood haunts, and youth hostelling.
During your time together, also create situations where you give her responsibility. This is not when you ask her to help you, but where she takes charge – for preparing a meal of her choice, for map-reading, for planning your whole day together, for re-designing her bedroom, for making a photo-journal of your time…
Be creative. Do whatever it takes to reconnect. You know your daughter really well, trust that you do, and find your way back to her. But initially you’ll need to take her away from home ground, away from her friends, away from your home – and then give it time. This is why you need a few days away together – and this is just the start.
On your return, make a date each month to spend time together. This will maintain your new connection and build on what you have started. I have written more on this here.
… and even if you don’t feel like you’re struggling with your daughter, you could try this anyway!