I’ve always considered myself someone who is easy to talk to and is there for my kids when they need me. So it caught me by surprise when my wife shared about some very personal things one of our daughters had been telling her that I was completely unaware of. “Why do you think she won’t tell me this stuff?” I asked. She responded, “She doesn’t feel like you take her seriously.”
That was hard but important for me to hear. Of course I want my daughters to know they can come to me. I’m sure you do too. But we can make it incredibly difficult without much effort. Here are 5 ways to make sure your daughter never tells you anything.
1. Call her dramatic.
I’ve got teenage daughters. I know the emotions can run high. But when you roll your eyes or refer to her response as “dramatic,” you communicate that what she’s feeling isn’t legitimate. And just because her feelings are bigger than yours doesn’t mean they are less valid. If you want to make sure your daughter never tells you anything, refuse to take her feelings seriously.If you want to make sure your daughter never tells you anything, refuse to take her feelings seriously.
2. Laugh at her problems.
If you want to know how to talk to your daughter in a way that ensures she won’t confide in you, be sure to laugh at whatever she shares. Trust me, I know it’s probably not as bad as she thinks it is. And she certainly will need to learn to handle more challenging things along the way. But when you laugh at her, it makes her feel unimportant and as though she is not to be taken seriously. And we avoid people who don’t take us seriously.
3. Be too busy.
An unfortunate but all too easy way we often discourage our daughters from talking to us is by being way too busy. We get home late from work, check our email on our phone, plan social events in the evening, and make sure we don’t miss the latest game. None of this invites connection and dialogue. If you want to make sure your daughter never tells you anything, be busy and unavailable.
4. Get angry.
You want to know what really discourages vulnerability? Anger does. You don’t even have to get angry at your daughter, you might get angry at the people who hurt her feelings. Or perhaps you get angry at the situation that is throwing up obstacles in her way. You might think your anger demonstrates you care, but in actuality, it makes you unapproachable. Your daughter doesn’t need you to take on her big emotions.
5. Try to fix it all.
I know this is counterintuitive for most of us, but your daughter isn’t always looking for you to fix everything. Some things, often the most important ones, don’t need “fixing;” they simply need to be attended to. Your daughter wants your attention and your love, not your strategies. Trying to fix the problem is a good way to make sure your daughter never tells you anything.
Sound off: Do you know how to talk to your daughter well? What ways have worked well for you??
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your daughter and ask, “Is there anything I do that makes it hard for you to talk to me?”