How to Make Your Daughter a Lifelong Friend

How to Make Your Daughter a Lifelong Friend

My mom was an amazing woman who attended college at a time when not many women did—back in the early 40s. I am so grateful to have been raised by this strong-minded woman. She was determined that her three kids would learn a good work ethic, attend church, memorize scripture, and learn to love books.

Our reward for helping her clean house every Saturday was a trip to the library. She was into health foods long before it became trendy. No potato chips, sugared cereals, or soft drinks in our home growing up, and we drank our fair share of home-crafted carrot juice.

My mother did a lot of things right as a mom, but there were rarely any one-on-one mom/daughter times. I remember only one, even though I’m sure there were more. I was soon to begin my high school freshman year, and she drove me to a nice clothing store in the city, where she bought two new school dresses for me. I had plenty of jeans and tops, but these two dresses were special.

It also didn’t help that she was somewhat socially awkward. She wasn’t comfortable hugging or saying “I love you,” and consequently, she wasn’t someone I shared personal things with.

Listening Early OnHow To Be The Mother Yours Wasn’t – 196

And then I had a little girl, and we named her Summer. And I knew I wanted our relationship to be closer than what I had with my mom. I reasoned that if I wanted my daughter to talk openly with me during her pre-teen and teen years, then maybe I should listen to her early on. Even when all I wanted was some peace and quiet. Even then.

Our son, an early riser, usually fell asleep the minute his head hit the pillow. Our daughter, on the other hand, was a night owl. So after they both went to bed, I’d lie down next to Summer and we’d talk, while early morning conversations were reserved for my son.

In her teen years, even though she didn’t tell me everything that went on in her life, Summer and I had open communication lines running back and forth. Well … except when she wasn’t happy with us and punished us by exiling herself to her bedroom with the door closed.

I knew which subjects and teachers in high school were her favorites. I knew which girls were mean to her. I knew she was passionate about wanting to do something purposeful with her life. And I knew she had anxiety over what that might be.

I knew these things because we spent time together communicating—over the baking of chocolate chip cookies, around the dinner table, and while running errands together.

No Guaranteed Formula

When I was a young mom, I wanted a guaranteed formula for child-rearing. As a Christian parent, I wanted to know that if I did X, Y, and Z, then our children would turn out exactly how we wanted them to. But there are no formulas. What can be beneficial for one family or for one child, may not be useful to other families and their kiddos.

There is no child-rearing book for all parents everywhere. But as a general thought and under normal circumstances, what we pour into our children during their younger years, can come back to us in abundant measure.

Today, Summer and her husband are parents to six kids—three biological children, and three young brothers adopted from Uganda.4 Ways to Build a Successful Relationship with Your Child

I no longer need to parent her concerning curfew, homework, chores, or skirts that are too short. Instead, I’m her head cheerleader when it comes to rearing their kiddos. “You can do this!” or “Hmmm, who does that remind me of? Oh, wait … I know. It reminds me of you at that age!”

I’m a listening ear when she needs to voice her victories or frustrations. I’m her assistant adult-in-charge of children and dogs when she and her husband need to get away for an anniversary celebration or to attend a conference.

Now there are long conversations about her work with special needs children in the local elementary school, about the funny things her youngest inadvertently spurts out. These days she’s teaching me about early childhood trauma and how it can play out, and about handling knives (from a Knives Course at New York City’s Institute of Culinary Education).

Lifelong Friend and Wise Counselor

Now I have a daughter who is not only my adult friend but also gives good counsel. There was the time when her dad was dying of cancer in a hospital bed in our living room and I had politely declined an offer of meals because it was just my daughter visiting from the east coast and we didn’t eat much. When Summer found out, she proceeded to lecture. “Mom,” she said in her raised-eyebrow voice, “people want to help in meaningful ways. They want to be part of your story. You need to let them.”

How did she grow this wise?!

Some of my favorite times are sitting around the dining table and talking as adults with my daughter and son-in-law after the children have taken their plates to the sink.

We know each other well because we’ve spent hours conversing—when she was a toddler, young girl, middle schooler, high schooler. She is my life-long friend, which is a priceless gift from God.

It can seem difficult to connect with your child during their teenage years, but we have some tips that can help: How Can I Connect And Communicate With My Teenager Better? With Jerusha Clark – 182

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