Your twelve year-old daughter saunters into the kitchen, head down, glued to her iPhone. This is clearly a case of “I’m in my own world, Mom. Don’t bug me.” Right?
More often than you might think, it’s “I’m bored, and it’s hard to tear my eyes away from this addictive screen, so could you help me out, Mom?”
No matter how many screens call out to your daughter, no matter what age and what attitude she’s at today, she’s still craving some very basic stuff. She may roll her eyes, stiffen her back a little, or throw some sarcastic comments your way as you try to be a great mom, but there are few things she needs from you today even though she’s not six years old anymore.
1. She still wants affection from you.
Not all girls are the touchy-feely type, especially as they approach their teen years, but your daughter, now just like always, needs an arm around her shoulder every now and then. She may need to be held tight every once in a while… by you, and by her dad.
The right kind of loving touch can remind both of you that you’re on the same team. It can diffuse tension and lessen the sting of constructive criticism. Use this powerful non-verbal form of communication to let your daughter know you’re there for her when she needs you.
2. She wants you to be excited about her victories.
Your world may be full of large-scale frustrations or victories. And the kick-over she just mastered may not be on the list of things you were worried about today. But when she’s thrilled about her progress, make sure you are too.
We all know how wonderful it is to have someone rejoice when we rejoice. Victories need to be acknowledged and enjoyed. And your daughter will measure your love by how happy you are for her in her victories, both large and small.
3. She wants you to care when she’s hurting.
Just like shared victories matter, shared sorrow matters. If she’s hurting over misunderstandings with friends, not making the team, or the hurtful comment her big brother made, hold back for a while from “let’s keep this in perspective” speeches. Just listen to her for a bit. Let her share what’s on her heart.
Mourn with those who mourn. You’ll be amazed at the amount of trust you build with her. She’ll know you’re a safe place, and she’ll confide in you again and again. There are certainly times to share all the right answers, but make sure you empathize and let her know your heart hurts along with hers.
4. She wants to be reminded of what’s truly important.
Your daughter, like all other girls her age, will go through phases of obsessions… phones, sleepovers, hairstyles, clothes. But she will also always know, deep down, that she was made for more than all that.
Your daughter was created by a God who wants a relationship with her. And she’ll never be able to fill the emptiness in her soul with anything other than Jesus. Remind her of this truth. She wants her life to have a purpose bigger than herself. Don’t let her buy the lie of the world that the universe should revolve around her.
Remind her with joy and passion that she has a calling in this life. It’s not easy for girls her age to be selfless, to look to God, but she wants to be reminded.
So next time you look at your growing daughter, whether or not she’s attached to some kind of addictive electronic device, read between the lines…
She’s growing up, yes. And she doesn’t need you every second of the day like she did several years ago. But she still needs you to step into her life: to wrap her up in love, to rejoice with her, to weep with her, and to remind her of what’s really important. And she may very well put that iPhone down every once in a while for some time with Mom!
by Jennifer Ebenhack