Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Practical Tips for Reaching the Heart of Your Tween Daughter

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Be an insightful admirer. Think about it: Do you like your tween daughter? Let her know it. She can think of a hundred reasons every day not to like herself. She needs to know that in you, there will always be someone who laughs at her jokes, thinks she looks pretty and enjoys spending time with her. She knows you love her. After all, you have to -- you're the parent! But does she know you like her? Show her by spending time with her, laughing with her and telling her often through texts, e-mails, or handwritten notes.

Be an appreciative audience. I am convinced that better parenting means better listening. Listening to a tween does require a bit of patience. Sometimes you have to listen as your daughter describes what her friends are doing and thinking before you get to the part where she feels comfortable enough to share from her own heart. She may want to gauge your response to what others are doing and saying first, so be careful how you react. You could unknowingly shut down a conversation before it ever starts. You listen best when you are careful to make eye contact and eliminate any distractions. And please, listen without planning what you are going to say next!

Be a loving ally. Love is not just a feeling, it is an action best expressed through sacrifice. God showed us His love through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus. In a similar way, we show our daughters how much we love them when we make sacrifices for them. We must, however, be quiet about it. You do not advertise sacrifice. You do not draw attention to it. You just do it. For example, praying diligently for your daughter requires a daily sacrifice of time. The braces, the music lessons and the team sports fees involve a financial sacrifice. Opening your home to her noisy friends after a long week is a sacrifice of comfort and convenience. Holding your tongue instead of responding in frustration is a sacrifice, too.

Get rightly focused on what your daughter needs. She needs all of you because she is growing and becoming all God wants her to be. Soon, she is going to disappear into adulthood. These growing pains are the preliminary stretch to the final lap of parenting: the teen years. The foundation you lay now is crucial to the formation of your relationship ahead.


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