- Keep from imposing your own views when it doesn't respect your daughter's thoughts and feelings about what is good for her, rather than what may be more appropriate for you.
- Be clear; don't set boundaries for the wrong reasons, such as trying to manipulate your daughter. Don't allow grown children to manipulate you, nor should you manipulate them.
- Set boundaries about when you are willing to provide assistance without guilt.
- Try to be as consistent as possible about setting limits. Helping your daughter to set limits gives her an opportunity to develop and practice problem-solving skills.
- Be direct and phrase things as "I" messages, such as,"I would like to see you," rather than, "Why don't you ever visit me?" The goal is to express your need, not to make your daughter feel guilty for disappointing you and failing to meet your needs and expectations. The danger of delivering a message that creates guilt is that your daughter may stay away from you to avoid your disappointment, which prevents you from attaining the intimacy and connection you desire.
- Think through what your goals are. Sometimes you may want her to listen and value what you are saying, other times you may want her to change her behavior. You are always more effective if you know what you want.
- Avoid quid pro quo.
- Respect your daughter's privacy and expect her to have respect for your privacy as well.
- Don't overburden your daughter with your problems. There are some parts of your life that should be kept private, and vice versa. For example, bedroom details. "My mom has no shame when it comes to sex," says Julia, 27 years old. "She tells me about her lingerie purchases or asks what moves my husband is up to. I like her in my life, but sharing that part grosses me out."
- Don't be too buddy-buddy: It's a rare mother and daughter that can be best friends because there will always be a generation gap, says Christiane Northrup in her book, Mother-Daughter Wisdom. And there are some parts of your life that you and your daughter just shouldn't discuss. Sure, you can tell her how much fun you had at a party last night, but do you really want to brag that you did three shots of tequila—while wearing a lampshade (and not much else)? Sharing that kind of info "crosses a boundary," says Northrup.
- Don't be a punching bag. Because you may be your daughter's safest and most available target, she may lash out at you. But remember, it's not your responsibility to manage your daughter's anger.
- Coach your daughter rather than do things for her.
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.