Mother and daughter learning to finger knit. San Jose Library/Flickr

All family ties are at their best when they are strong and keep growing stronger. Based on my own experience, here are three ways to develop a strong mother-daughter relationship.

The surprise outing: When I was a child there was the much-anticipated day out. Mum used to surprise us with them when we were least expecting it. I remember the day was a simple donuts with a milk shake, window shopping and lunch affair. One time we caught the bus into the city to visit the art gallery, but most of the time it was much closer to home. The best thing for me was to have my mother’s undivided attention for a few hours. The memories are priceless!

Forging a friendship: Coming of age for me was marked by dates with Mum at more fancy coffee shops where we were free to enjoy each other’s time and mull over the happenings of life. We kept it simple, a mug of warm hot chocolate, a chai latte or a cappuccino and a little time were all that was needed to stop, share and reconnect. Find the most beautiful café you can and go grab a delightful beverage…time out is the magic ingredient not the price tag.

The friend factor: My mother knows of or has met all of my friends, even though I am an adult. Even now it means I can worry out aloud about a friend’s concerns or share funny stories as life unfolds. Getting to know your daughter’s friends is a key way of connecting with her. Friends are for most girls a top priority, and, like it or not, they will influence her now and in the future. So, take the opportunity to influence them by inviting them over when your daughter is still young, that way she will be used to you and her friends interacting, and it will remain completely natural.

Sleepovers with movies and too much junk food is an easy option, but cultivating creativity is ensures that your daughter and her friends can think outside the square, focusing on enjoying each other’s company and building solid friendships and memories.

So here are some creative ideas that worked for me and my friends in the pre-teen years:

* An afternoon learning how to knit with brownies and warm milk 

* Baking a cake or having a dessert cook-off with 3-5 key ingredients

* Listening to the BBC radio version of Lord of the Rings with pop corn and the lights out. This one may need a few sessions as there are 13 episodes.

* Letting the girls cook dinner with supervision

* Play games eg. Spoons

* Scrapbooking or a craft activity

* Manicures and afternoon tea

* Cup cake decorating

* Visit a children’s hospital or an old age home and schedule an ice-cream shop stop on the way home.

In time, you will find that sharing friends will begin to go both ways, helping to create and even stronger bond. 

Helena Adeloju is a Melbourne journalist and editor of Family Edge.

Helena Adeloju lives in Australia. She is a Melbourne-based journalist who has also worked in newspaper and television newsrooms in Sydney and Hobart. She has had the opportunity to travel widely across...