- Know yourself first and forgive your imperfections. If you forgive yourself for not being an ideal parent, you provide a much more powerful role model for your daughter. What more powerful way is there, after all, to communicate to your daughter that no matter what life brings her, when she stumbles and when she soars, she'll be acceptable not just to you, but to herself as well?
- Don't view your daughter's struggles or frustrations as proof that you aren't a good mother. You may recognize this as Winnicott's "good enough" mother who prepares her child perfectly for adulthood. She understands that by being imperfect, she is helping her daughter learn to face adversity while she is there to help her adjust, cope, and persevere. Don't try to be a perfect mother because that creates an impossible ideal, one that no daughter can emulate or live up to.
- Give your daughter the message that you want and expect her to be a moral and responsible person, to have the strength to make her own choices, and to appreciate her own abilities and talents.
- Understand that your daughter may make very different choices in life; don't interpret this as a rejection of yourself or evidence of bad mothering.
- Value your daughter's feelings and see them as an opportunity for intimacy.
- Work at tolerating your daughter's anger and frustrations and don't give her verbal and nonverbal messages that you are uncomfortable with these feelings. Remember, you only have to listen; you don't have to fix it.
- Don't dictate how your daughter should look or feel. For example, try not to say things such as, "Don't frown, you look prettier when you smile."
- Tell the truth.
Excerpted from Too Close for Comfort? Questioning the Intimacy of Today's New Mother-Daughter Relationship by Linda Perlman Gordon and Susan Morris Shaffer © 2009 by Linda Perlman Gordon and Susan Morris Shaffer. Excerpted by permission of The Berkley Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.