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Annie Fox, M.Ed., is an internationally respected parenting expert, award-winning author, and a trusted online adviser for tweens and teens.

What do moms & daughters want from each other anyway?

February 17, 2011

Love comes from understanding

I recently led a very special Mom/Daughter workshop. Sixty moms showed up each with a middle or high school daughter in tow. My goal for our 90 minutes together was two-fold:

1) Offer pragmatic calming down strategies which I knew would come in handy next time Mom & Daughter find themselves in one of those “I can’t believe we’re fighting about this again!!!” fights.

2) Provide Moms & Daughters with opportunities to understand and appreciate the unique challenges facing the other generation.

I introduced the Calming Strategies: I’m going to teach you how to do re-centering breathing. So next time you feel off-balance (and believe me there’s always a next time), you can get yourself back to the place where you do your best thinking. Give me a couple of  minutes of your time and you’ll have a tool you can use whenever  you’re about to ‘lose it.’  It’s very easy to breathe. The real challenge is to remember to breathe when you need to. And that would be any time you and your daughter or you and your mom get locked in a DESTRUCTIVE WASTE OF TIME yelling match – which covers pretty much all yelling matches.

Here’s how to breathe. Go for it!

As for the Opportunities to Understand one another, those came in the form of 20 posted questions lining both sides of  the room. These first six were for Moms and Daughters:

1. I’m very proud of my daughter/my mom when______

Most common Mom answers: Shows backbone. Achieves a goal she’s worked for. Helps others.

Most common Daughter answers: Wears cute clothes. Does what she loves. Trusts me & relaxes.

2. I wish my daughter/my mom would _______ more.

Most common Mom answers: Help (do chores) without being asked. Open up and talk to me.

Most common Daughter answers: Trust me. Understand me. Listen to me.

3. I’d like to apologize to my daughter/my mom for______

Most common Mom answers: Yelling & losing patience. Being critical. Not listening.

Most common Daughter answers: Being rude/disrespectful/bitchy. Taking things out on her.

4. Sometimes I’m embarrassed when my daughter/my mom ______

Most common Mom answers: Is rude to me in front of others. Dresses like she does. Gets upset over nothing.

Most common Daughter answers: Dances/sings/laughs/talks too much. Gets too ‘involved’ w/my problems. Tries to act cool around my friends.

5. I feel especially close to my daughter/my mom when______

Most common Mom answers: She confides in me. We hang out together.

Most common Daughter answers: We do stuff together (shop, watch movies, etc.), We talk, We hang out.

6. Most of our conflicts are about______

Most common Mom answers: Chores/helping out. Homework/time management. Siblings.

Most common Daughter answers: Attitude. Grades. Clothes. Social stuff (Curfew, Parties, Texting)

Then there were four Moms Only questions:

7. I could do a better job as a mom if I______

Most common Mom answers: Calmed down. Slowed down. Just relaxed. Had more patience. Had fewer tasks to do.

8. The best advice I could give my daughter is______

Most common Mom answers: Respect yourself. Trust yourself. Do what makes you happy.

9. The hardest part about being a mom is _____

Most common Mom answers: Being patient. Feeling like I don’t know what I’m doing.

10. Sometimes I _____ (Same thing I hated as a kid!) I’m trying to change this behavior.

Most common Mom answers: Get mad about the messy room. Say things I should know are embarrassing to my daughter. Want my daughter to be someone different (from who she is)

And here are the four Daughters Only questions:

7. I would be easier to live with if I______

Most common Daughter answers: Wasn’t so emotional/stressed/bitchy. Listen more. Argued Less. Cleaned up after myself.

8. When something is bothering me I’d like my mom to______

Most common Daughters answers: Leave me alone. Be nice.

9. When we argue I sometime_____ (even if I know it’ll increase tension). I’m trying to change that behavior.

Most common Daughter answers: Yell. Say mean things.

10. If I’m ever a mom, I swear I will_______

Most common Daughter answers: Have an open relationship with her. Be cool if my child wants to go out. Listen.


As you read the questions and mentally answer them you’ll probably wonder how your daughter would respond. Maybe you could use them as a way to let each other in on how each of you feels about your relationship. I invite you to take these questions and your answers as tool for identifying what works in your relationship with your daughter. Celebrate those positive things and continue making time for them. On the flip side, use what you both learn here and work with your daughter to change the aspects of your relationship that could use improvement.

Oh, and one more thing… don’t forget to breathe.



  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Annie Fox, M.Ed., Vivienne Borne and OUAC WHITBY, Liza Harding. Liza Harding said: RT @Annie_Fox: Just published NEW #parenting blog: What do #MOMS & #DAUGHTERS want from each other anyway? […]

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  2. Oh I needed this today !!!!!!
    My daughter told me last week that I must not have been very good at being a kid as I knew nothing!!

    Comment by kellor and Abby — February 18, 2011 @ 12:06 pm

  3. This is a wonderful idea! I wish I could have attended the workshop with my mom. Great, Annie!

    Comment by Vanessa Van Petten — February 18, 2011 @ 4:02 pm

  4. “Dances/sings/laughs/talks too much”

    My daughter is only 8 but I have been hearing this from her for over a year. With the stress of work, and the house, and being a first time older parent, I don’t dance, sing, or laugh nearly enough (or nearly as much as I used to before I became a parent). And the rare times I do, it is crushing to hear the irritation in her voice when she says “Mom, stop it. You’re driving me crazy.” Apparently she prefers morose and depressed to singing and laughter?

    Comment by MaryKat Parks Workinger, ed. dir. — February 21, 2011 @ 4:21 am

  5. Wow, I can’t believe how much I can relate to this post! I’m fascinated by the “most common”answers, and think they probably haven’t changed that much since I was a teen QUITE a number of years ago!

    Great reminder to breathe.

    And just reading these questions and answers makes me feel a lot less alone.

    Comment by Heather Mundell — February 21, 2011 @ 3:25 pm

  6. This workshop would have been fun to attend to. My daughter and I sometimes do have our own share of bickerings but good thing it ends up into us being okay with each other. Although I’m worried about not having to reconcile at all, good thing you post these common answers from our teens. I might be able to understand my daughter better and probably make her read your blog to understand my side too.
    Thank you for the share Annie!

    Comment by Wendy, Turning Winds — February 23, 2011 @ 1:54 am

  7. Oh, I can’t count how many of these ridiculous spats my wife and oldest daughter have had, lol! It amazes me, how they are just about best friends, but got at each other so much.

    Great post!

    Comment by Brandon — February 27, 2011 @ 5:56 am

  8. My daughters are 3 and 5 and I am so anxious to grow with them. Will I figure out what they need at every stage? No, but I am excited to see how our relationships grow.

    Comment by cara — February 28, 2011 @ 9:34 pm

  9. My daughter is in her mid thirties and some of this stuff is still very true in our relationship. It reminded me of how much we love each other and that we want only the best for each other. Now that she’s a mother, we have even more in common, and she’s experiencing some of these things, already, with her four year old. And so it goes. Thanks for a super blog post!

    Comment by Patti Mallett — March 2, 2011 @ 2:58 pm

  10. Hi Annie, It was great to see you again at the NCL meeting. I was wondering where on your website we could find the responses to the questions on the wall thatour daughters answered? Thanks again.

    Comment by Patricia — March 9, 2011 @ 3:53 pm

  11. What a great post right before Mother’s Day! I try very hard to remember how horribly embarrassing my mother could be and not to do that to my kids. Keeping my cool is definitely the hardest thing, especially with my 10 year old; he knows all of my buttons. Luckily, my 12 year old girl is still very lovey and gives lots of hugs. I know enough to really appreciate it for as long as it lasts.

    Comment by Maryanne Fantalis — May 4, 2011 @ 1:25 pm

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