- To support your daughter, try a skill we call "engaged detachment." Engaged detachment requires close involvement, but with a sense of perspective. Engaged parenting includes being empathetic, acting as a sounding board, and providing objective coaching.
- Empathize rather than overly identify with your daughter. If you don't step back, it is easier to lose perspective.
- Check your emotional temperature. When you can think clearly, you are much more able to refrain from making things bigger than they are.
- Don't jump in to save your daughter from making mistakes. This allows her to experience the natural consequences of her decisions. Only a victim needs to be rescued.
- "Hold and guide" your daughter, which requires affection, understanding, and active listening rather than "doing for her." This behavior gives your daughter the opportunity to solve problems on her own with appropriate support.
- Communicate via e-mail or in writing when things get really hard and you think you will say things that you will regret. Somehow, putting down one's thoughts on paper, and then editing and rewriting one's words can offer a calmer perspective and prevent impulsive and angry reactions. Visualize that what you write will be above the fold in the New York Times. In other words, allow some breathing space before continuing the conversation … or find another way to communicate without speaking directly.
- Bite your tongue or duct tape your mouth when necessary!
- Encourage your daughter to have her own voice, thoughts, and opinions. This is your time to step back.
Published on September 16, 2009