This post: As a Mom of Four Teen Daughters, Here’s What I’ve Learned About Fostering a Strong Sisterly Bond Among Our Girls
Written by: Ali Flynn
The other day my oldest daughter stomped down the hallway straight into the kitchen and started giving me an earful about her sister. “Mooom… OMG! She’s so annoying! She went into my bedroom and took my favorite hoodie… again! Without asking! Ugh… I can’t stand her!”
As I stood there listening to her go on and on about how awful her sister is, I couldn’t help but think that just a few days earlier they were cozied up on my older daughter’s bed laughing and watching silly TikTok videos together.
As a mom of four teenage daughters, I’ve realized something about raising girls (especially through the teen years) – they might fight, they might argue, they might even downright despise one another at times, but the bond that holds them together is stronger than steel.
When I witness compassion, sharing, and a tight-knit sisterly bond among my girls, I know their love is steadfast and I’m able to take a deep breath and remind myself that it will all be okay in the end. What’s encouraging is that as they grow older, I’m starting to see precious glimpses of their relationships growing more steady and strong.
Slowly, they are becoming each other’s lifeline. I see them offering each other grace when they need it the most, compassion when the world is harsh and friendship when friends run short. And, nothing brings me greater happiness or peace…
Still, those petty fights (sometimes, not quite so petty), slamming doors and agonizing, long-winded complaints about one another (even if they are far and few between) worry me.
What if my girls don’t build the bond I so desperately hope and pray for? What if they don’t get along years from now and they live separate lives only to get together on occasional holidays merely out of obligation? What if these years create a harsh indelible mark that carries over to their adult lives? What if I’m not doing enough to foster a lifelong sisterly bond between them?
These questions so often haunt me. But they’ve also motivated me to take action and hopefully prevent their relationships from eroding right before my very eyes. Because these teen years among my girls are pivotal and fragile.
While every relationship between sisters is unique in its own way, I have learned a few things about fostering a strong sisterly bond. For every parent who aims to help their daughters form a lasting and loving relationship, here are a few things you can do now to fortify their relationship.
Make Family Time a Priority
It may sound cliche, but family time in our home is key. Keeping it simple is also of utmost importance. I’ve found the more I put the hammer down and pressure my girls to hang out as a family, the more adverse they become to the idea. Instead, I let things unfold organically.
Whether it’s sitting around the table for a family dinner where we all have a chance to share the highlights of our day, taking a walk in the neighborhood or hopping in the car on a Saturday afternoon for a drive, I look for opportunities to get my girls together.
Even if they complain they have things to do or they simply don’t want to go, I continue with my (gentle) nudging because it’s not just about a casual walk or dinner as a family, it’s about giving my girls time to laugh and joke around and tell each other stories about school and life and friends and boyfriends. It’s about using our family time as a launchpad to enrich their connection.
Stop Arguments Before They Get Out of Hand
Fights over missing hair bands. Sassy comments about snatching a new favorite pair of jeans out of their dresser drawer. Yup, all of this is normal and happens all the time in my house.
But for me, the key is stopping arguments from escalating. Oftentimes, I’ll give the girls time to work it out themselves, but if I hear shouting or slamming doors, I often interject with a reminder about how the other one borrowed their shirt the other day or how we can move forward by making sure the other one asks before taking things.
I also remind them about their tone of voice, the message they’re sending, how it sometimes comes off as selfish or nasty. And then, I offer them the grace to step back and reflect.
Teach Them to Respect Each Other’s Boundaries
Our daughters need to be reminded that their sisters have thresholds of tolerance. One might go ballistic if you steal her lipgloss while the other could care less. One might lose her cool if you swipe her new shirt out of her closet without asking while the other has her favorite sweatshirts and could care less what’s taken from her closet. Each one has her own boundaries – and they need to be respected.
Open the lines of communication and get your girls talking. Let them share their “rules” with the other one so they know what’s okay and what isn’t, what bothers them and what doesn’t. (Considering the vast majority of arguments in my home erupt over “taking things without asking,” this issue was fairly easy to resolve.) Bottom line, they need to be reminded that their friendship is a gift to cherish – not damage over a silly pair of jeans.
Let Them Share Secrets
Oh… the secrets my girls share! I could get upset or frustrated. I could feel left out knowing they’re going to each other with things I wish they’d come to me about. But I don’t. I love that they have each other to lean on, to talk to, to share their lives with. I’m sure there are a few secrets tucked in there that I’d rather not know, but the fact that they have that foundation to fall back on brings me immense comfort.
Bring Their Friends Together
My older girls are only 17 months apart. Being so close in age means they’ve planned joint sleepovers and outings that include them and all their friends. And, it’s proven to be a wonderful thing. It’s brought my daughters closer together, given them more friends to love and share life with, and provided them with yet another foundation to stand on when they need it the most.
When possible, bring your daughters and all their friends together. Whether it’s for a casual movie and pizza night at the house or you spring for smoothies for the whole gang on a Friday night, let them get to know one another. Even if there’s an age gap, you might be surprised how they connect with one another and how it strengthens the bond with your daughters.
Give Them Space to Create Their Own Unique Bond
Each of my four daughters holds a very special and unique bond with her other sisters. Each relationship has its own dynamic that’s all theirs. And, they cherish the space that they’ve created together.
Whether it’s sushi and watching their favorite show together, laying in bed sharing secrets, hopping in the car to grab an iced coffee or giving each other a look of understanding, it’s their thing. They’ve created their own relationship that they love and hold on to as their own.
So moms (and dads), hang in there if your daughters are in a hard place right now. Fostering a strong sisterly bond happens brick by brick. Give them space, time, guidance, and plenty of support to help them come together. One day, your heart will rest easy knowing that they are each other’s friend forever.
About Ali Flynn:
Ali Flynn is excited to share with you the joys and hardships of motherhood with an open heart, laughter and some tears. Ali is a monthly guest contributor for Westchester County Moms and has been seen on Filter Free Parents, Grown and Flown, Today Parents, The Mighty, Her View From Home and His View From Home, where she shares inspirational stories about motherhood while keeping it real. You can also find her on Facebook or Instagram.
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