Being a mother has been the most rewarding adventure of my lifetime. I have birthed 3 beautiful children and was given a 4th blessing the day I met my husband, my oldest daughter. Raising babies was a breeze! They eat, sleep, poop, and play. Toddlers were exciting; all of their firsts in life happen and every moment was a new milestone. Children are fun! You get to teach them things, play with them, and watch their character form. My youngest is 6 and he is so full of an imagination that his older brother and sister still enjoy.
But somewhere after the joys of being a child, things change. My eldest daughter turned 12 this summer, although at times I swear she is already much older than that. She is beautiful and creative and the biggest help in our home. She takes on every task when I am consumed with the younger children. I’ll be the first to admit that it is extremely helpful to have someone around the house all day who can help share the tasks that the younger children cannot do.
However, somewhere between having her help and not having to entertain her anymore, I began to realize that we were lacking a strong relationship. Suddenly, my daughter was too old and uninterested in everything I was used to and everything she used to love. I found a distance forming between us because I just wasn’t ready for this stage to hit- but it did and quick!
So I finally let go of my fears of failing her and our relationship and I let God lead my heart in this new journey to connect with my eldest daughter.
Show Her You Are Interested
Ok, she doesn’t want to play and she doesn’t want dolls anymore. Yet she loves art and she loves to talk about that new Taylor Swift song. (ugh, since when?) So I took her to an art demo at a gallery. She got her hands dirty and tried new products until she found exactly what she wanted. Her eyes lit up as we sat there and together we played with marbling paints. On the way home, I allowed her to play her favorite music. As I sat there and just listened I could see how much she had grown.
It is important to remain interested; even if you are not. Just because she no longer wants to play or watch that Disney movie does not mean that she doesn’t want your time. She NEEDS time with you, from you. Most likely, if you have multiple children, you will have to make time specifically for her. It’ll show her that you cherish her despite her changes.
Teach Her To Love Herself
At this age, their body’s change. They go through womanly changes (some of which hurt), there are hideous pimples that take over, and hair- why is there hair everywhere! There is a large amount of personal responsibility that begins and that beautiful girl will need you every step of the way. Guide her and teach her that she is beautiful and becoming a woman. Be there to comfort her when her first cramps begin and explain to her why. Instead of shopping for dolls and hair barrettes show her what to look for in cleansing products and discover her favorite scented lotion. Above all, teach her to love and care for herself in all the ways that are being forced upon her.
Teach Her To Grow
Even though she will always be your little girl, she is no longer a child- so do not baby her. One day she will be an adult, a woman, and a mother. So take the time to teach her how to survive life. Show her how to successfully complete life skills like sewing a button, cooking, money management, and meal planning. Don’t just show her, let her do them. It is common to forget all of these responsibilities and place the focus on chores that they can now complete. But I can guarantee that she is eager to learn much more than cleaning. She will learn responsibility and independence while spending some more quality time with you and building an everlasting new bond.
This is my favorite. After all of the new changes, new lessons, and responsibilities life can feel confusing to her. Mix this by the ever changing hormones and emotions and it can be overwhelming for children at this age, especially young ladies. On top of all this, since they are older and able to fend for themselves more, it is easy to tend to them last. Showing her that she is thought of and appreciated, even in the smallest of gestures, can mean more than you may think.
I know my daughter often comes last while I tend to the younger children. So I make sure that I reward her. I surprise her with trips to the hair salon (nothing expensive) or taking her for a quick bite to eat after she’s gone shopping with me all day. Her excitement when we get some time together always warms my heart, as I am sure it does to hers.
This stage is hard! It is scary. We now watch the little being that we have raised and taught for so many years begin to blossom and truly become their own person. The attitudes form and the interests change. At this age, they are no longer a child and letting them grow more independently can be difficult. However, we have the opportunity not only to teach but to really connect and form a real relationship with our daughters; one that will grow for the rest of their lifetime and until the end of ours.