PITTSBURGH, Penn. – She may have your eyes, your smile and share your love for classic rock and chocolate peanut-butter ice cream. But if you are raising a daughter, there are days when you wonder who that familiar- looking "stranger" is hiding behind a slammed door in an upstairs bedroom —and you may ask yourself am I doing this right? Chances are, not too long ago, your mother asked herself the same thing.
It's the first time ever in high heels for many of these teens.
Learning not to stumble in stilettos is not something moms always teach, but one group of girls are learning and are grateful for the guidance. The girls are navigating in the grown-up world preparing for an annual rite of passage, their first homecoming dance.
Mothers and daughters have intense connections that are widely celebrated and sometimes rocky relationships. Cathy Tunon, a director for a large hotel chain, was the middle child in a family of nine kids where mom ruled the roost.
"She always told us, no matter what you do, how you do it, give 150-percent," Tunon said.
No matter how perfect that sounds, her mom wasn't perfect.
"I wish she would have had more time, with each of us," added Tunon.
What is the key to raising a confident girl? Experts say daughters will emulate mom, so moms should expose her to your career or life goals. Encourage her to pursue her passions. From a young age, experts say it's crucial to teach girls to be self-reliant.
Usha Kishor Patel is a housewife and so was her mother.
"By age 10 I could make a complete meal, without my mom being there," she said.
Parenting experts say teach your daughter life skills to bolster her confidence. Moms need to watch their girls struggle and fail in order to problem-solve. Experts say moms today are more likely than ever before to helicopter in and prevent any failures, which also prevents any learning.
Sammy Mill talked about her relationship with her mother.
"I wish she wouldn't be as protective, and let me do more things by myself- instead of by my side the whole time," she explained.
What is this generation of moms doing better than the generation before? They may be more communicative on touchy subjects.
"I don't know how open my mom was with a lot of things. We never had the birds and bees talk," said Tabatha Ann Mill, mother of Sammy and substitute teacher.
Experts say the media bombards kids with messages about sex. They say talk about the difference between sex in the movies, and real-life relationships. It's also a good time to help girls process information about body image and weight.
"Whenever someone says your daughter is beautiful, that's fine, but for you to say she's beautiful on the inside is far more important to me and I also hope, important to her," said mom Christine Michael.
These mom's know one thing for sure, mistakes will be made, on both sides.
"I trust her but I also know she's a kid and she's going to screw up," said Tabatha Ann Mill.
"Sometimes they need to take a step back and see it from our side," said Justine Szurley about her mom.
Experts say with age, comes empathy. Someday these girls may have daughters of their own and suddenly, their mothers' words of wisdom may make more sense.
Many parenting experts agree the best way for mothers to improve their relationships with their daughters is to listen more than they talk. Tweens and teens feel like moms talk "at" them and they shut down the lines of communication. One other top tip is to set a regular time to listen to your daughter. No matter how trivial the information about her day may seem, experts say it leads to conversations about more important issues.