You know the feeling. You are just itching to give advice, but you can sense it isn’t the best thing to do.
( how to listen to your daughter instead of giving advice and why you should)
-Your advice always seems to fall on deaf ears.
-You can talk yourself blue… but your advice seems to go in one ear and out the other.
-From the depths of your experience, you give her your very best hard-won, heartfelt advice. Then, she turns around and ignores it, or does the complete opposite.-Or worse, your daughter appears to listen & seems to agree, only to proceed precisely the way she was going to in the first place as if you never said a thing.
“Why even try?”, you ask yourself, exhausted.
You wished you had someone there for you the way you’re there for her, caring enough to listen.
When it isn’t making you ill as a hornet, her dismissal is breaking your heart. You have so much to offer your daughter, so much pain to spare her, and she just throws your advice away like yesterday’s news.
You sense she needs something more from you but, for the life of you, you don’t know what.
If this happens more than you care to admit, and resentment has begun to set in, perhaps it is time to take a step back and re-evaluate your approach.
Ask yourself- Do you want to be right? Or would you rather feel close and connected?
Is this the time for setting her straight? Or is it the time to lay the groundwork for trust and emotional safety.
Getting clear on this may be harder than you think.
If you are like so many mothers, you feel intense internal pressure to be right, to have the answers. In this culture, most mothers do feel pressure to fix things for their daughters. They are tasked with the competing demands of being everything to their daughters while, simultaneously, letting them go.
Nevermind it is impossible to do both at once.
What can you do?
If it is a more significant connection you want, you will be ready to reassess your approach.
To that end, you can increase your sense of connection by asking questions that keep the focus on your daughter who is struggling, rather than telling her what to do.
6 Questions To Ask Instead Of Giving Advice- (when you’d rather be close than be right)
1. What do you see as your options in this situation?
2. How do you understand the problem?
3. What do you feel is at stake here?
4. What is it that you want out of the situation?
5. If you could bring yourself to do anything, what would that be?
6. What kind of outcome would you consider a success?
By asking follow-up questions, you convey that you trust the intelligence, sensitivity, and competence of your daughter.
This helps her feel valued instead of corrected.
When she feels valued, she will be more open and less guarded with you. And, over time, being open and accepted strengthens the connection and builds feelings of trust.
If it is connection you want, you have to demonstrate that you care more than you need to be right.
When you ask questions rather than give answers and opinions, you show her you believe in her ability to figure things out for herself. What’s more, when you have nurtured a genuine connection, any advice ( when it is asked for) actually has a better chance of landing.
As a therapist to women for 30 years, I see that many women, especially mothers, feel that they need to provide answers. Many times their daughters don’t need answers as much as they need witness, acceptance, warmth, and connection.
If they don’t explicitly ask for advice, many times they know what they should do… they just have trouble implementing it. When she talks it out with you, she feels connected and supported. This will help your relationship and, ultimately, help her carry out what she knows is right- for her.
If I could put a bug in many a mother’s ear of a grown daughter, this is what I would say.-
” Your daughter is trusting you with her struggle. Listen generously, and only give advice that is asked for. You need to make sure that your daughter feels heard, accepted, and valued before you give advice.”
As a mother, I know it is hard to forgo being the one with the answers. But, if you let your daughter come to her own solutions as you support her, the payoff is huge.
You will feel more connected, and she will be more willing to come to you again and share her struggles all the while helping you grow closer.
It’s all part of the important work of letting your daughter go. It is the hardest gift to give her but the most important gift to give.
To find out if you suffer from the good daughter syndrome- take the quiz here!
When you feel connected, your daughter will be more willing to come to you again and share her struggles.. while helping you grow closer. Click To Tweet Your daughter is trusting you with her struggle. Listen generously, and only give advice that is asked for. Click To Tweet How To Listen To Your Daughter Instead Of Giving Advice Click To Tweet If it is connection you want, you have to demonstrate that you care more than you need to be right. Click To Tweet
I offer general knowledge when I read or hear it. I NEVER GIVE ADVICE UNLESS ASKED—-So why does she still go on super blast when I email just a piece of information that I learned to pass on—same as to pass on to a neighbor, a friend or my husband. JUST NEW KNOWLEDGE , SOMETHING I may have read in the New York Times, or saw on TV—I still get attacked for breaking boundaries—and it is just something like a health tip !!! Or information to get the new REAL ID for your drivers license–which is a lot now a days because of immigration. Just stuff like that ???
I’m really glad you asked this. As a mother of two daughters myself, I recently ran into this. I was texting my youngest daughter about social distancing and she got very defensive. She suggested we talk person to person about it. Good call. When we talked she said she knew I didn’t mean it that way but that it felt like I was not trusting her to keep up on the issues herself and that I was treating her like a child. I defended myself ( of course LOL) but ultimately agreed that although it wasn’t what I intended I could understand how it felt that way to her. I told her I texted her and got right to the point so as not to waste her time and because I was afraid for her. But I wanted to have a good relationship with her more than I needed to be right. I then listened to her understanding of the issues. We decided to take any discussion like that offline and have a person to person discussion.
I think it is especially hard for those of us living in an era where kids, even grown ones, have access to information. We are no longer a sole source of information and are used to being the authority and would feel negligent, NOT sharing. It’s tough, isn’t it? As I said to my daughter, I’m still a work in progress and continue to learn and navigate this new era. As long as we are talking we seem to be able to navigate each tough spot. Mostly I want to foster an atmosphere of two imperfect people working out a relationship that feels good to both of us. Being able to get it “wrong” and hearing that from her seems to help. Good luck. It’s hard being a momma that tries. I’m learning with you.