A mother can affirm the gender of her teenage daughter both by the example she sets and in the relationship she forms with her daughter.

  • Example. A mother who is strong yet nurturing, neither overbearing nor overly passive, helps define femininity as a gender worth embracing.

  • Positive feedback. A teen needs approval for who she is as well as what she does. A mother should look for ways to praise rather than focus on areas needing improvement, which teens interpret as criticism. Included in this should be positive feedback about the daughter’s femininity.

  • Just listen. While the mother-daughter bond begins in infancy, one way to build this relationship is for the mother to listen curiously. A mother invites her daughter to open up when she listens with the goal of understanding her daughter’s heart rather than with the intent to correct or teach.

  • Validation of feelings. A mother should try to see things from her daughter’s perspective, empathizing with both her experiences and her emotions.

As a mother sets a desirable example, provides positive feedback and develops a close relationship, she helps to affirm her daughter’s sense of gender identity.

Julie Harron Hamilton, PhD, is a licensed marriage and family therapist. 

From Focus on Your Child’s Teen Phases, February 2008. Published by Focus on the Family U.S. © 2007 Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. International copyright secured. Used by permission. 

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