Sitting at the pool this summer with some friends, several of us discussed the level of closeness we each feel with our moms. Our own daughters swam around us as we chatted.
As moms, we desire to know and love our daughters well. What will we hope they say to their friends about our pursuit of closeness with them when they’re older?
I later asked my 12-year-old daughter what made her feel close to me. Her answers were simple, but not easy to execute consistently. She mentioned one-on-one dates, unhurried time chatting on the couch, and bedtime prayers.
I then polled other godly women in my life about what drew them near to their moms and what intentional steps they were taking to foster nearness in their own daughter’s hearts. The answers led to these three principles.
First and foremost, know your daughter.
How would you describe her personality, love language, and interests? You can spend lots of time talking, but if you don’t study and know her, you won’t reach her heart.
- Read books that help you understand and relate to your daughter. Some of my favorites are: The Five Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman, The Way They Learn by Cynthia Tobias, and Your Girl by Vicki Courtney.
- Get creative with your approach. One friend’s daughter said her mom knew she loved to write more than talk. Her mom started a journal that they passed back and forth. Your daughter may not be a writer, but she does have a method of conversing that may go beyond spoken words. Find out her best language method, and then ask God to give you wisdom to speak it.
Secondly, getting close means spending time.
My daughter mentioned that I am more focused on listening to her when we go out without her siblings. This time must be intentional. It will not happen on its own considering the busy lives moms lead.
- Put a chart on the fridge for the date, activity, parent and child when you go out. This helps keep you accountable and stops squabbling over whose turn it is with which parent for a date. Gather questions to spark deeper conversations. Buy a small thoughtful gift and stay away from activities that run low on interaction such as movies. Take walks; learn a sport or skill (tennis, pottery); or be girly (paint nails, fix hair).
- Set a goal and accomplish it together. My 12-year-old and I have been training for eight weeks to run a 5K together. God brought this activity to mind to help us all be more active but also with the thought that this would be time spent together three times a week. The running wasn’t always easy, but this Saturday we will race together and create another shared memory.
- Go away for an overnight trip. Family Life’s Passport to Purity weekend provides a great guide for away time with your preteen gal. As our culture moves toward more open sexual references, we must get to our girls earlier so they don’t hear the facts of life from some other source.
Finally, pray for and with your girl.
Prayer draws us close as we seek Jesus together. It sounds so simple, but why don’t we do it more? My mom always told me she prayed for me, and it gave me a security and confidence in her love as well as in Christ. What greater gift could we give our daughters than our prayers?
- Start a practice of praying with your daughter every night when you put her to bed. At night children exhibit a tenderness toward talking and prayer. Take advantage of it. When the long day has exhausted us, praying with each child individually can be the last thing we feel like doing. Do it anyway. The seeds of prayer we plant will reap huge benefits of closeness later.
- Get organized and accountable with your own prayer life. Whether it’s morning, in the car, afternoons, naptimes, or just before bed, start a consistent practice of praying for each of your children. Then ask a friend or mentor to keep you accountable. We all need a little help from others to stay consistent with important disciplines such as prayer.
- Ask your daughter regularly if she has any prayer requests. Remind her that you’re praying and help her see God answering your prayers in her life. This will draw you toward each other even when the prayers have to do with temper tantrums, eye rolling, or disrespect.
We can’t underestimate the power of prayer in helping us connect with our daughters. James 5:16 says, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The urgent request of a righteous person is very powerful in its effect.”
Whether your daughter is 2 or 12, be proactive in pursuing her. The seeds you plant in the early years will help ensure a close relationship through the highs and lows ahead for her. Though you will never do it perfectly, with God’s help you can build a deep relationship that she will want to emulate with her own daughters in the future.
Article courtesy of ParentLife Magazine