There’s something about lazy summer days that bring about the best in our relationships. Freedom from school schedules, family vacations and plenty of trips to the café for smoothies make for wonderful opportunities to bond with your tween or teen daughter this time of year. Here are a few key guidelines to help build strong connections.
Be ready to listen more than you talk. As our daughters reach middle school and beyond, they’re less interested in hearing our instructions and more interested in exploring who they are—and, ideally, sharing that lovely person with her parents. When your daughter talks to you, don’t be too quick to interject with criticism or guidance. Listen to her heart and ask God for wisdom in how to respond. You might be surprised what you learn simply by tuning an ear to your daughter’s world.
Engage at her level. What does your daughter enjoy? Try to enjoy it with her. Listen to her music. Read her favorite magazine together. Take her shopping to her favorite stores. Serve her favorite dinner. Be careful not to dismiss or criticize her age-appropriate interests. They might sometimes seem childish or foolish to your adult perception, but to her they are valid and important.
Be trustworthy. Let your daughter know you are a safe place to share her fears and confidences. She has to trust that what she tells you won’t be passed on to your friends as fodder for mom-talk, nor will you tease her or somehow use her words against her in a future argument. In other words, treat your daughter as you’d want her to treat you.
Spend one-on-one time. One of the benefits of summer break is that you can reclaim some family time that might otherwise be focused on school friends or activities. Be intentional about planning one-on-one time with your daughter, even if it’s just walking the dog together or grabbing a quick bite to eat on your lunch break. The memories built in the course of one summer can last a lifetime. So be sure to make time for creating them!
Invite God to join you. Finally and most importantly, invite God into your relationship with your daughter. Talk about her faith—what she believes, what questions she has, what she’s reading in her Bible, etc. Consider reading Scripture together, doing a summer devotional, or setting aside time to pray together.
Need some ideas? Check out the Faithgirlz Bibles and devotional studies for some great resources to enjoy this summer.