My daughter had a few girl friends over last night. Well, you can see from the amount of shoes that it was more than a few. And along with all of those shoes came big appetites ready for chips and salsa and lots of chocolate chip cookies.
Now, this wasn’t just a Friday night movie get together. It wasn’t just a spontaneous party after a basketball game. This was what we call a monthly Powerhouse meeting – a small group of junior high girls getting together to connect with each other and encourage each other in their lives and walks with Jesus. It is a safe place where these girls can come and feel free to be themselves and know that other girls always have their backs! A place where they can learn that they deserve better.
And as the talk went from struggles at school to struggles at home, a topic came up with those words that no mom wants to hear when talking about her, “She just doesn’t get it.”
“She just doesn’t know what I need.”
And so as I sat and listened, I wrote down these cries for a filling, a pouring, from their mamas to each of them. Although each of them had various specific things that she needed, they all fell into five categories.
This is what our daughters need from us and that we can give them:
1. Honesty (almost)
Our daughters need to know the struggles that we faced as a little girl and as a young lady. They need to know how we felt when we didn’t get invited to that birthday party or when we didn’t make the team. I clearly remember being in Science class in sixth grade and one of my friends was mad at me. She never said why she was mad at me, she just ignored me the whole class period. At one point, I said, “Do you even like me at all anymore?”
She answered, “I like your Swatch watch.” (Clearly I am dating myself, here.)
When I shared that story with my daughter, I could see eyes opening and almost see her heart breaking for me and her realization that I must be getting what she goes through sometimes.
Now, the almost part is what hit me. My daughter needs honest stories from my past, but she does not need to know all of my struggles for today. She can know that her dad and I are discussing where to go on vacation, but she does not need to know every detail of every disagreement we may have. She can know that we are trying to save money, but she doesn’t need to hear about every financial decision we make as a family. There are some things that your daughter can just feel secure in knowing that you will take care of them.
2. Boundaries (articulated)
It is said that teens spell boundaries – R-U-L-E-S, but in order for your daughter to grow up secure, there are some real boundaries that she needs and they need to be articulated. After getting a puppy for Christmas, our children are more aware than ever before that boundaries are a good thing. Keeping Maddie (our puppy) in the cage when we are gone means no clean up when we get back.
Each family will be different with the actual boundaries they desire. Even though they are different, our girls deserve to know what they are. For one family, a dating boundary might be no dating until sixteen. For another, it might be only group dates until eighteen. The important part is to make sure the boundary is known ahead of time.
In our family, we try to have each child only participate in one activity per season. With four children, that is still a lot of carpooling, but it is a boundary that we established early on and the kids know to choose which activity they would like to do. If a boundary is articulated early on, it will become the norm rather than seen as a restriction.
3. Time (again and again)
When we live in a world where a little boy wants to pay for time with his dad, my heart could ache for the childhood that seems to be going so quickly, but God wants us to look forward and enjoy these moments. We are able to feel freedom in the fact that we are able to connect with our daughters in so many ways. Whether it is during homework time or a special Spa night, our daughters need us to be available with our time. Plan time and schedule it on the calendar. Grab your daughter when you are going out for a walk. Take moments like these to open up the door to her heart and she will invite you in again and again.
And isn’t it interesting how the thing that she wants is what we want? To be invited and welcomed into our little girl’s heart?
Next Monday we will find out the last and most important things we can give our daughters. Until then, do you have any creative ways to get time with your daughter? I would love to hear some unique ideas!