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Repairing a Broken Relationship With Your Teen Daughter

by | Feb 28, 2024 | Parenting | 0 comments

“I’ve tried everything and I will keep trying but it seems no matter what I do, my teenage daughter pushes me away.  It feels like our relationship is falling apart.

This is what Annie, a parent-coaching client, recently shared with me. Ever since her divorce, her teenage daughter blamed her and refused any level of engagement.  Despite apologizing, giving her space, and doing everything she knew how to do, Annie’s daughter blamed her for the separation and all the sadness and anger that followed. 

I could see Annie’s agony and feel her desperation to do something to repair the broken relationship with her teenage daughter. I encouraged her not to lose hope and we talked through several approaches that would help rebuild the broken relationship. 

No matter what the cause, if your teen is pulling away these strategies can help repair your foundation of trust and reestablish a healthy bond. 

  • Accept and forgive. 

Accept the situation.  Avoid dwelling in the past and what you or your teen could have done differently.  Forgive yourself and extend forgiveness to your teen. This helps to clear your mind and open your heart so you can approach your teen with a new attitude and outlook. 

  • Evaluate what’s changed. 

Take an inventory of what is different for you and your teen.  Consider your values, needs, and boundaries, and those of your teen. As you consider what’s different, also note what parenting approaches have backfired and commit to not repeating the same thing. 

  • Own your actions (and mistakes). 

It’s so important for teens to hear you take responsibility for your choices and mistakes. Not only does this show them how to take responsibility for their own actions, but it demonstrates vulnerability and supports an opening to more meaningful conversations.  If your teen is not talking to you, consider writing a letter or sending a heartfelt text.  This is a big step and you may need to give your teen time to process before she responds. You may also need to reach out a couple of times. You want to show your teen your steadfast commitment to doing what it takes to repair and rebuild. 

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  • Listen. 

When your teen does respond, listen with an open heart and open mind. Try not to defend yourself or tell her that what she’s saying isn’t fair or doesn’t make sense.  Allow her to fully express herself and hold space.  You can respond with an affirmation: I understand how difficult this has been for you. It makes sense that you have pulled back and don’t want to talk.  It’s OK that you’re upset with me. Or, you may offer an acknowledgment:  This is a really hard time for us. I know we can get through it. I want to work with you to make our relationship better and I understand that things need to change. That I need to change.” 

  • Work with your teen. 

When the time is right, start a conversation about how to move forward in a way that honors both your needs and boundaries.  As the conversation unfolds, remember to listen to understand your teen so you can use that understanding to enhance your relationship.  These questions are helpful ways to spark a meaningful repair-and-rebuild dialogue: 

  • What is something I can do to improve our broken relationship?
  • How can I show you that I love and respect you without triggering a fight or rift? 
  • When it comes to our relationship, what is important for me to know? 

If these steps don’t work or if the rift between you and your teen is too large or complicated to address on your own, get professional support from a therapist or coach.   I have helped many mothers and daughters, fathers and daughters, and families rebuild their relationships and actually get stronger as a result of past challenges.   

 

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