Why it's healthy to stay close to your teen daughter

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Why it's healthy to stay close to your teen daughter

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Sometimes people wonder if girls need to separate from their mothers to develop a healthy sense of self. They do not. Developing a sense of self, which is also called individuation or differentiating takes place in the context of caring relationships. For an adolescent, this would be with her peers, her teachers, her coaches, and with her mother. You can be really close to someone and also be very different from them. Girls actually feel freer to be themselves when they have the connection and love and support of their mothers. Adolescents need both autonomy and connection. Girls who have the support of their mothers can actually make her feel freer to go off into the world and be autonomous. Your connection with her helps her actually become herself and then feel free to be herself out in the world.

Watch SuEllen Hamkins, MD's video on Why it's healthy to stay close to your teen daughter...

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SuEllen Hamkins, MD

Psychiatrist & Author

SuEllen Hamkins, MD, is a psychiatrist, author and founding member of the Mother-Daughter Project, a community of women and girls that developed powerful, practical ways to help mothers and daughters stay connected and thrive through adolescence. Co-author of The Mother-Daughter Project: How Mothers and Daughters Can Band Together, Beat the Odds and Thrive Through Adolescence, Dr. Hamkins has given numerous presentations for parents and psychotherapists around the world, focusing on mothers, daughters, their relationships and the kinds of communities that nurture them.  As the psychiatrist for the Smith College Counseling Service from 1992-2004, SuEllen offered consultation to over a thousand women ages 16 to 23 to help them resist and overcome problems such as anorexia, bulimia, depression, anxiety, trauma, assault, and self-injury.  In addition to her work on behalf of mothers and daughters, as the Assistant Director for Psychiatry at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, she has been instrumental in developing strengths-based, narrative approaches to psychotherapy and psychiatric practice, helping people cultivate their values and strengths in the face of serious difficulties.  SuEllen is the mother of two daughters, now 17 and 22, and raising them has been the most thrilling and rewarding work of her life. She lives with her husband and younger daughter in western Massachusetts, where they love to swim outdoors, cross country ski, shoe snow, dance, cook and lounge around in the living room, reading. 

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