Saturday, May 6, 2023

Book Nook - Dial Up the Dream: Make Your Daughter’s Journey to Adulthood the Best for Both of You


Colleen O'Grady, MA, LPC is a licensed therapist and life coach who helps moms reduce drama, reclaim their lives, and dial up the dream with their teen and young adult. Colleen has a thriving private practice in Houston, TX and coaches’ moms from around the world.

After more than 50,000 hours of working with parents and teens -- and being a mom in the trenches with her own teenage daughter herself -- she published her best-selling book Dial Down the Drama: Reducing Conflict and Reconnecting with Your Teenage Daughter----A Guide for Mothers Everywhere. Her latest release, Dial Up the Dream: Make Your Daughter’s Journey to Adulthood the Best for Both of You  is now available wherever books are sold.

Colleen is also the creator of the Power Your Parenting: How to Reconnect with your Teen (and Reclaim Your Life). This is a seven-week program with like-minded moms designed to transform negative patterns (drama) into a healthy, fun, loving connection with your teen while you reclaim a life you love.

Colleen has shared her message of practical hope with moms worldwide in Parents, The Wall Street Journal, popular parenting podcasts, and on the red carpet at TEDxWilmington. She is the host of the Power Your Parenting: Moms with Teens podcast, which has been ranked the number one podcast on parenting teens.

I had a chance to interview her about parenting and her latest book, which I had a chance to review. I thought it was perfect timing - my daughter is finishing her 10th grade year, which means we're approaching that stage of high school graduation and adulthood quickly. The book provided helpful information, and it would be appropriate for mother-daughter pairs in all stages of transition.

-Why did you focus this book on the mother-daughter relationship?

My first book, Dial Down the Drama focused on the mother-daughter relationship and Dial Up the Dream is the sequel to that. I see lots of mothers and daughters in my therapy practice, and I have lived both books with my now 27-year-old daughter. The mother-daughter bond is close which makes it challenging. During this transition from home to college, mom is letting go of seeing her daughter every day and losing control. The daughter wants to be her own person and wants distance from her mom. The daughter is guaranteed to push against moms' expectations which are guaranteed to set off all sorts of alarms. Add to this that mom is left in the doldrums of middle-aged life while she watches her daughter soar. Dial Up the Dream helps moms avoid the trap of trying to live their life through their daughter or trying to control her. The daughter's developmental task is to manage herself, and the mom’s developmental task is to let go of managing her daughter and reconnect and rediscover herself. Mom will be surprised to find out that when she dials up her own dream, it will bring her closer to her daughter.

-Why is it important for mothers to be prepared for the transition when their daughters go off to college?

Being prepared helps the mom fill the void, set realistic expectations, and make the most of her relationship with her daughter. 

When your daughter leaves home there will be a void and emptiness that won’t be filled up just by playing pickleball. (Though that could help) My friend Sherry anticipated the void was coming and started a business to help young mothers struggling with postpartum. Parenting brings rich meaning to your life so finding something else meaningful to do can help fill the void. This could be volunteering or starting a new business. You can also fill the void by doing all the things that you never had time to do during those busy parenting years, like remodeling your house or taking a trip to Greece.

Realistic expectations are grounded in neuroscience. The brain is not fully developed till age 25 which means that your teen is still emotionally immature. You don’t walk into adulthood seamlessly; your daughter will make mistakes and may have a setback, but this is all part of growing up. Just like a toddler gets up after they fall, your daughter will eventually learn how to walk steadily on her own. Knowing this can greatly reduce your worrying and give you peace. 

You make the most of your relationship with your daughter by decreasing the monitor (which is really a monologue to manage your daughter) and being more focused on connecting. You want to build a strong foundation that will keep you close when your daughter leaves home. There are five key facets that create that foundation, parenting the heart, being her anchor—putting things in perspective, being the voice of empathy, being a positive mirror, and being her encourager—seeing the good. 

-How can mothers learn to let go, even if they don't agree with the decisions their daughters are making?

Letting go is really confusing for moms. What does that really mean? You’re not letting go of the relationship. You’re not letting go of speaking into your child’s life. You are letting go of being their 24/7 monitor which means you let go of managing them. And you really can’t when they don’t live in your home. 

Your emerging young adult is learning to self-manage. And there will be plenty of mistakes. And you are still needed. Your role shifts from the monitor (manager) to the consultant. A manager tells her daughter what to do like, “You need to study now, or you’re grounded.” A consultant teaches your daughter how to think by using strategic questions. “If you’re going out four nights a week, how will you get your work done?” 

A parent needs to sort out what is my business and what is my young adult's business. If your daughter decides that she is going to go to class that’s her business but it’s your business if you want to continue paying her tuition if she fails her classes.

If your daughter is making decisions that put her in danger, you can step in as the consultant and triage help like finding her a therapist or a doctor.

-How can mothers foster meaningful connections with their adult daughters?

I asked a friend of mine what was the hardest thing about having a relationship with an adult daughter. She quickly replied, “Keeping my mouth shut.” If you are going to have a meaningful connection with your adult daughter, you must stay away from the Mothering Urge which is giving unsolicited advice. That Mothering Urge will never go away but the benefits of resisting it are well worth it.

The biggest benefit is having more of a friend-like relationship with your daughter. This looks like going to a concert, hiking, going out to eat, going to an art museum, shopping, and even a “girl’s trip” with your daughter. It could be going to the grocery store together or sharing pictures you know she’ll love. By doing this you’re creating positive experiences with your daughter which draws her close to you. You may start in the shallow waters but investing time in like this leads to deep and meaningful connections.

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