Research has shown that when a mother relates her experiences to her daughter it gives her a framework from which to understand the world.
It’s crucial to a girl’s psychological wellbeing that she hears stories from her mother during puberty — like first period stories. But you’re probably wondering what sort of stories are the best ones to tell. Developmental psychologist Dr. Robyn Fivush has found that some of the best stories to tell are those with a positive resolution.
Even if the story is about a negative experience, as long as the story has a lesson learned, it’s great to tell your daughter. Stories that help her understand things from your perspective fuel empathy and deepen your connection.
“Adolescent girls who can tell stories about their mom and understand their mom’s perspective, those are the girls showing the best outcomes: higher self
esteem, fewer internalized problems, higher levels of social competence,” Dr. Fivush says.
Of course, it can be hard to know when to talk to your daughter. Puberty can make kids moody and unreceptive. From crossing their arms to doing their best to ignore you, kids can sometimes make parents feel like there’s no point in trying to talk to them.
Dr. Fivush, however, encourages parents to press on.
“Parents think their stories fall on deaf ears. Kids roll their eyes, but in fact they’re making connections to their own lives,” Dr. Fivush says. “The advice to parents is, to a large extent, relax. Adolescents can be turbulent, but they’re listening, so keep the communication open and be ready to listen.”
And remember, you don’t have to do it all yourself. Connecting with other family members and other moms will help you surround your daughter with a community of adults who can support her whenever she needs help. Check out ALWAYS’ tips for how to connect with other moms.