As I receive Valentine’s Day spam in my inbox, I started thinking—go figure! Will you receive a Valentine from your teenage daughter this year? Is your relationship with her close enough that it’s even a possibility? When you think of your teenage daughter is it with anger and regret? Do you hate me right now for asking these questions, because it shines a light on something you’d rather not think about? You are not alone. I talk to moms on a daily basis whose only communication with their teenage daughter is through a door or in a series of monosyllabic grunts. How did this happen, and what can you do to change it? The most surefire way to get a Valentine from your teen is to first give one to yourself. The more you build up your own self-respect, the less needy you will be. Confidence is very attractive to teenagers. If you’re in a place of disconnection and low self-esteem right now, help is on the way!
1. The first step is to accept where you are, no matter how bad that is or how much shame you have because of it. You can’t change something that you don’t first accept.
2. The next step is to build up your own self-respect to the point that you don’t require respect from your daughter. Take all the things that bug you about her and find out where they remind you of things in your own personality. Then start changing yourself to resemble the person you want her to be.
3. Focus on radical self-care to build up that elusive self-respect. Do things that make you smile. Do things that you used to think were fun before the aliens took away your precious little girl. Focus on building yourself up instead of changing her.
4. Notice all the fun things that make you happy and then ask your daughter what makes her happy. Build a sense of fun into your everyday life, and invite her to join you. If she doesn’t accept, that’s none of your business. Stay in your own business, focus on your own actions and reactions, and leave her business to her. When you stay in your own business, you are putting your time and energy into a place that you can control. When you stop trying to micromanage her, and start to have fun, she will become curious. But that’s still not your business. Lead by example and leave the following to her.
After practicing self-care and building fun into your daily life, your daughter might actually want to talk to you, because you are shining your own light. For as much time as teenagers spend in darkness, they are actually quite attracted to light. I have great success being goofy with my daughters and their friends. I don’t feel the need to stroke my own ego and be powerful, because goofy is so much more fun. This was not always the case. I used to drive the control-freak train—right into breast cancer. Now, I wear the funny conductors hat, but the destination is far messier and far more rewarding.