Expert Commentary: Good Friendship is Priceless

Friendship has been a big point of discussion at school lately. Friendship has always been considered a two way street, but lately it's kind of been forgotten. Friendships are sacred, and the absence or deterioration of friendship is a blight on any community big or small.

One of the best friendships to cultivate is mother and child. I don't know a lot about father and child except for the usual generalities and what the experts say and what I've read that makes sense, but I haven't experienced first hand what father and child feels like. I know father's need to tell their daughters they are beautiful and well worth fighting for.

Mother and daughter I know about. To befriend a daughter and encourage a real exchange to develop over the years is a joy. I have three fabulous daughters and each one is my ideal of womanhood.

Encouraging that kind of friendship begins in the beginning with an overwhelming protectiveness. The tigress and her cub, the throw yourself in front of the train for the child on the tracks is not a silly idea, it's a mother's constant first thought.

As the years progress, mothers relax a little about the idea of friendship. We experience the terrible twos, the sweet threes, the fearsome fours, the discovering fives, the placid sixes, and then the independent sevens and all the other ages up where the child moves rather quickly through childhood.

All the while, mother and child have the opportunities to understand one another to develop something called trust. Will you be there for me is the primary question in a child's life. The answer is always yes. Will you be there when I fall down, will you be there for me when I finish, will you be there for me when I'm lost and lonely? Yes.

My youngest daughter Anne wrote a lovely note this week and reminded me of a time when she was thirteen and we were arguing over something silly, and she burst into tears and confessed how lonely she was. Apparently I also burst into tears. She remembers that as a special exchange.

Friendship means understanding one another and giving the larger piece to the other. It means thinking about the needs of the other – first. It means making the chocolate one when you really want the coconut one. It means spending the last dollar on the silly toy because she seems to want it so much. It means understanding how much she hates math.

As the years pass, this simple view of mother daughter is not always as easy.  Is it always filled with love and affection? Yes, but sometimes that gets loud when Mommy has to play the mommy role and the child must defer. But if that special trust is a constant, the problems will be minimized.

Trust establishes itself through consistency. Understanding how someone will respond is primary. “I can tell her anything,” is a good indicator that the relationship is on target – either way.  

In childhood, a daughter must be told that she may not act, do, dress, say, watch certain things. Approaching a daughter in childhood should be matter of fact and not hysterical.

"My darling, that dress is beneath you." Keep it simple.

"I know Sandra behaves that way, but you have some talents that I think are superior to that behavior." Keep her guessing.

“We have the brains and the style to avoid such TV trash.”  Inclusive - it’s a key word in mother- daughter relations.

Discussing things calmly will allow trust to become the basic tenet of the relationship. In the end, the childhood decision is always mothers – with a little give for the child.

In adulthood, the discussions change. Parents simply shouldn't have that kind of control, and continuing the one ups man ship of age is deadly. That's where understanding the child who grew up helps. What was she like as a little girl? She's not a different person as an adult – she's just bigger.

Keys to a good relationship?

Listen with your heart turned toward the child

Talk with your heart in your mouth

Remember the word identity

Remember the word time

And know that your child is well worth being hit by a train over.