Vulnerable young girls will quickly clam up if they find their private talks haven't been kept private. Be careful not to betray her confidence when she tells you something personal.

Remember when you were her age? It's not easy for young girls to talk about intimate things with their parents, and they can be easily embarrassed. Take extreme caution to protect her confidentiality. It will either encourage your daughter to be more open with you, or it will slam the door of communication shut.

How are you doing?

Take a moment to reflect on the level of communication you have with your daughter. Maybe it's not all her fault if there's stress between you. Be honest.

  • I encourage my daughter to bring her questions to me, and she knows I'll give her honest answers. _____True_____False
  • My daughter knows she can trust me and is comfortable sharing personal things with me. _____True_____False
  • This is a weak area for me. I sometimes share with others things she's told me in confidence. _____True_____False
  • We don't keep secrets in our family. She should know that anything she tells me I'll tell her dad. _____True_____False

Probably the best way to find out how you're doing in the area of trustworthiness is to ask your daughter! And when you do, encourage her honesty. She'll let you know if you're a safe place for her.

Tell Her You're There for Her

To develop or maintain open communication with your daughter:

  • Assure her that no question is too embarrassing, off-limits, or dirty. She needs someone whom she can ask her questions to and receive honest answers. Let her know you're there for her and want to be that person.
  • Don't assume she knows you invite her questions if you haven't told her so. Make it clear that she can come to you with anything at any time.
  • Make sure she knows that no matter who else lets her down or doesn't seem to care, you are always there for her—that she can always come to you for help, guidance, or just a lap to lay her head on and cry if she needs to.

You are your daughter's only mother—she needs you to be that person in her life.

Which describes you?

A.  My daughter knows I'm her biggest cheerleader and am always there for her.

B.  I want to be an approachable mother and need to make some changes to be sure my daughter knows I'm available for her. 

C.  I'm already too busy and don't have time to baby her. She's a teenager and should be more responsible for herself and solving her own problems.

It's easy to assume our daughters know things we haven't really told them. Make sure your daughter knows beyond all doubt that you're there for her. If you aren't comfortable saying it verbally, write her a letter and leave it on her pillow, or send her an email telling her how you feel.

Again, the more you let her know that you care about what she's going through, the easier it will be for her to open up and talk to you. It may be awkward at first, but it will get easier, and the payoff will be worth all the effort!

Excerpted from:  What Your Daughter Isn't Telling You by Susie Shellenberger and Kathy Gowler; Copyright © 2007; ISBN 9780764203756; Published by Bethany House Publishers. Used by permission. Unauthorized duplication prohibited.