As your daughter goes through the teen years, you may wonder what happened to your sweet little girl and the close relationship the two of you once shared. The mother-daughter relationship during the teen years is often intense and conflicted, according to the article, “Surviving (Your Child’s) Adolescence,” by Carl Pickhardt, a psychologist, writing for Psychology Today. Usually, mothers have a closer bond with children than fathers because they usually provide more care, Pickhardt states. Mothers and daughters also have a gender similarity, which gives them a closer bond. As teenage daughters try to break free of this closeness with their mother, it places a strain on their relationship.
Puberty is a time of rapid physical changes that can make girls feel uncomfortable and socially awkward. During this time, girls place more importance on their friends' opinions than their parents' opinions -- especially than the opinions of their mothers. Many girls start worrying about body image and fitting in with their peers. If your daughter comes home from school upset because someone told her she was ugly or fat, your earnest declaration, "But I think you are beautiful just the way you are!" may fall on deaf ears. Fluctuating hormones also play a role in making your daughter more moody and irritable.
During the teen years, daughters try to become more independent from their mothers. You will probably notice that your daughter wants to spend less time with you and that she is developing opinions that are different from yours. While her path to be an independent person is likely to cause some conflicts, try to give her space and not take her behavior personally. Even though your daughter seems to be pulling away, she still wants to have a connection.
Developing Her Identity
Many teenage girls "try on" different identities as they try to figure out who they are. Don't be surprised if your daughter, who has always been a tom boy, takes a sudden interest in make-up and fashion. You might also have a daughter who never had an interest in current events, who now wants to be a peace activist. Trying to influence the direction of your daughter's identity can backfire. While you should enforce limits on what is or is not appropriate, it's best to pick your battles and let your daughter figure out who she wants to be on her own.
Know When to Get Help
Even though it is normal for your daughter's behavior and personality to change during the teen years, there are warning signs you should not ignore. Be aware of drastic changes in your daughter's weight and sleep habits. Watch for falling grades, truancy and changes in friends. Look for sudden personality changes, talk about suicide or signs of drug or alcohol use. These may be signs of psychological problems needing professional intervention. Your doctor or a school counselor can help you find the best treatment.
Sharon O'Neil has been writing professionally since 2008. Her work has been published on various websites, including Walden University's Think+Up. She has worked in international business and is a licensed customs broker. She is currently a supervisor with a social service agency that works with families to prevent child abuse and neglect. She obtained a Bachelor of Science in business from Indiana University.