I came across an advice column in a well-known magazine that I found very interesting so I created a blog post centered around the issue. The magazine is a woman's publication that publishes real-life stories along with the usual advertisements and showbiz buzz.
I enjoy reading this magazine from time-to-time while taking a break from the Internet and all things digital. The column is called "On the Couch With Mandy" in Best magazine from UK. Mandy is an addiction, parenting and relationship expert. I've found her advice in most cases to be insightful, honest, and spiritual in some respects. Her website is Mandysaligari.com.
In this session a mother wrote in about an issue she's having with her daughter. The advice given by Mandy is priceless. I'm including the question and answer in full and unedited.
Question from reader:
My 19-year-old daughter has grown up in a world fuelled by social media, with huge emphasis on appearance...but I feel like she's taking it to a new level. The constant selfie-taking upsets me - she can't live in the moment! I've discreetly observed her when she's around her peers, and while they're all pouting and taking pictures together, the rest of them also participate in conversations and show interest in others. My daughter? Not so much...she seems utterly self-obsessed. She's now told me she wants her 'lips done' as that's her next step to being 'perfect.' Like a clone on Love Island, she means! It's killing me, but how do I get through to her?
K, South London
Reply from Mandy Saligari:
Your daughter is 19 years old - so she is officially an adult, and that limits your influence on her behaviour. Whatever pattern she is displaying now is likely to be a combination of social influence and of her experience growing up, so it might be worth you reflecting on whether you have placed a lot of importance on looks - yours and hers - as she grew up.
This over-emphasis on looks has, no doubt, been exacerbated by the onset and influence of social media and television programmes like Love Island. It's common nowadays for me to hear from parents who are worried about their child's experience, not least because parents appear to be ill-equipped to intervene. This can best happen when the parent is grounded in good self-esteem, so that they are able to comment with curiosity and not judgement, and encourage change rather than seek to control.
The fact that you are upset by her selfie-taking may make it harder for you to intervene effectively, as she already knows what your position is, so everything you say may be heard as criticism. As her mother, your strongest influence will always be around how she feels about herself and the development of her identity. Your ability to reassure her that how she looks is good enough is based on how much she respects your opinion, which is a reflection of the mother-daughter relationship, and your relationship with yourself.
If you feel this isn't strong enough, then I would recommend you do a few sessions with a therapist to help strengthen your self-esteem so you feel more confident. A good parenting book can also help show you how to have more constructive conversations with her and proactively be the mother you want to be, rather than worrying from the sidelines.
Mandy's reply to the reader is based on solid principles. We must "ourselves be what we want others to be" whether the other person is a child, friend, spouse, or parent. If we don't have the proper insight and self-esteem...our words will fall on deaf ears. This mother wants to influence her daughter's behavior but she doesn't know how because she "is not" being sagacious and objective...simply emotional.
And as Mandy wrote, the mother "should be able to comment with curiosity and not judgement, and encourage change rather than seek to control." We can never own or control another person. The mother wants to "force" her daughter into seeing things her way by trying to find ways to control her. This is a recipe for disaster.
Wisdom should dictate a parent's relationship with her child/children. And that wisdom only comes from the parent's relationship with God. Our higher-self is always trying to guide us to make the best decision and to bring ALL of our relationships onto the level of spiritual understanding. If not, our relationships are nothing but fodder to be thrown back into nothingness once we are gone.
This woman's daughter will surely test her resolve. Especially if she hasn't taken a wiser approach when dealing with her daughter since her infancy. Her daughter is an adult now - in worldly terms anyway. Her mother can only "lead from behind and not from the front." She will have to get out of the way, be objective, and use conscientious-love instead of criticism and emotionalism, to help guide her daughter on her earthly journey.
What do you think? Express yourself in the comments below.