Building Connection Points with Your Teen-Age Daughter
Leading up to Heart to Heart, Forest Springs' Mother Daughter Retreat (April 15-17), we continue to focus on the importance of building solid mother/daughter relationships. This time, Rebeccah Hopkins, mother of four, shares from her heart the things she has done to help build these important connections with her teen daughter.
What mom hasn’t felt, when times get hard, the painful distance of a teen-age daughter who used to fit so well into her lap?
These days the noise, pace and wardrobe tendencies that would have our ancestors rolling in their graves can easily crowd out what used to be an easy exchange between mom and miss. Fighting panic, we note how little time is left before she chooses to don those jeggings without dispute! Is the ability to connect long gone? Or is this a challenge we accept with the help of God’s all-knowing, all-caring, all-sufficient insider agent?
We have spent years in our home laying a foundation of conservative Christian values, and have enjoyed leading our young children to Christ. A decade later, our kids ask the question that all adolescents do... “Who is God in my life?”
It’s this inner wrestling with their adult faith (plus those ferocious hormones!), that can converge to create the tense environment of teen/parent interaction. So what tools can we claim on the battlefield of connecting with these precious pre-women of ours?
Put aside all distractions and ENTER HER WORLD
Her days are not like yours. Her perspective is not yours. Put the phone and laptop aside to ASK her what she thinks. ASK her how she feels. Be specific. ASK her about the best thing she has seen on FaceBook. And the worst. DREAM with her about her future. ASK God to give you the words (or the silence) you need before entering. ASK God for insight. ASK Him to give your daughter the desire to connect.
Become an Expert Responder (not a high-voltage reactor)
Know ahead of time that she will say things that are “off script.” Decide to LISTEN to LEARN rather than to fix! Look for opportunities to understand her. When she says she is dreading a day in her week, tell her that morning that you know that her day will be hard, and that you will have her favorite dinner waiting as a reward for attacking it. When character must be addressed, err on the side of waiting. There will be other times to correct. ASK God for wisdom!
Every girl longs to be whisked away and swept off her feet. Right? It needn’t be by her current crush! Predictability can deaden any previously vibrant connection, so break the shackles of routine from time to time. Surprise her!
Rent a movie she likes and you can live with... add her favorite snack and contrive to sit close together. How about handing her $10 and taking her to a thrift store to see what treasure you can unearth? (Who wouldn’t pay $10 to connect to your best girl?) Or turn on some music and soak your feet while looking through a magazine.
Conversation is inevitable! My daughter and I have a standing date on Monday nights to watch a TV show we like. I’m in charge of snacks, and we make that a priority, both willing to turn down other invitations to keep that date. Remember, connection is the destination. There are many roads, but YOU must take the wheel!
Quick mom quiz... what two moments are an instant platform for connecting?
* Crying together (I’m terrible at this!)
* Laughing together (a close second place, and much easier for me)
I like to send funny Pinterest pins to my daughter. Once in a while, we scroll through my “Funny” board and laugh ‘til we cry. (I guess I can cry with her after all!) Every female needs that cathartic release. A laugh can be that and more!
It can be so hard to reach out to our teen girls when we are sometimes rebuffed in our attempts. Don’t let fear rob you from calling on God’s strength to try again! So let’s put it on the calendar today, fellow soldiers!
Armed with faith, hope and love, we can face what we are called to in the trenches of home life. And we will, because so much is at stake! We are not God to our girls. But we are “Mom.” No more. And no less.
Need a weekend away with your daughter? Consider coming to Heart to Heart, Forest Springs' Mother-Daughter Retreat, April 15-17. For more information, click here.