If I had a child who would do what I ask, parenting would be so easy. Instead, for my daughter’s first 20 years I had struggled with my internal drive to push my daughter with sheer intense will. I would try to put aside the knowledge that this is ineffective and only hurts our relationship. When her behavior became risky in middle school, I realized I had to look deep within myself and make changes.
My desire to build connection through a mutually respectful relationship with my daughter must come first since controlling didn’t work. Influence rather than control became my focus. I found that taking full responsibility to change myself first rather than expect her to change was the most effective strategy. To help me self correct my behavior I asked myself this question before acting, “Is what I am about to say or do going to hurt or help our relationship?”
Now she is 23 and living away from home. I trained myself to think of what I wanted our life-long relationship to feel like and then to take the appropriate actions that would ensure this goal. My daughter calls me her mentor because I have learned how to listen with confidence in her, with offering safety and with warmth. I believe that each parent can learn how to build bridges of understanding when a connected relationship is their focus.