Wednesday, February 6, 2013

{Loving Your Teenager Daughter} What teen girls wish they could tell their moms.

I love my girl.  Sometimes, too much. 
Last summer she asked me to join her on a weekend away~ just the two of us.  
We headed to Galveston where I took this shot of her on the dock.  
Arms spread wide, eyes and heart full of wonder.  
At 21, I am in awe that she is a thriving young adult!   

Some days I wonder how she ever made it~ And in spite of my many desperate-panicky-neurotic-mothering-episodes!  Looking back, it seems that she only began to thrive as God revealed  something to me: 
Desperation is actually fear~  and parenting through fear is unhealthy.  

By shear choice of my will (and the support of other moms),  I began to loosen my grip and relax in her middle school years.  Fear makes us say and do crazy things, we lose our composure when we need it most, even plotting how we might tether our daughter's ankle with a chain to keep her from leaving the house!  It's true that we love them, but we can also use fear-filled love as a means to justify our actions~  "I love her so much!  I just don't want her to get hurt!"

Because I mentor teen aged girls through a ministry called Coffee Talk, I was able to do a little research with the girls in our ministry by asking this question:

   What is it you would like your mother to know, but are afraid to tell her? 
{Ouch. Just reading it makes you squirm, doesn't it?}
Below is a summary of their responses:

I wish my mom would use a different tone of voice.
I wish my mom understood me and celebrated the way I'm wired.
I wish my mom wouldn't get defensive and would admit when she was wrong.
I wish my mom wasn't so overprotective.
I wish my mom would ask how I feel about things and respect my opinion.
I wish my mom would show signs of seeking God and growing spiritually.
I wish my mom would pick her battles and let go of the little things.
I wish my mom would be more fun and make our house a place to bring my friends.
I wish my mom would listen without trying to fix my problems and encourage me more.
I wish my mom would give me more space and trust me more.
I wish I wasn't scared to tell my mom things that bug me about her.

Question: How do you feel when you read through the list? Do you get defensive at the end of every line?  Or do you ask yourself... I wonder if my daughter feels this way about me?  

I believe that most of these issues are rooted in fear {and PRIDE}.  There are times, even now, when I see myself in every one of them.  

You can change the tragectory of your relationship and increase your influence on the heart of your girl with this simple tool: A Report Card for Mom
Download Mom's Report Card HERE.
You may use it two ways:  
  • Sit down with your daughter and assess how you're doing.  Get feedback and understanding as you move through each line.        
  •        Simply use it as a tool for self reflection.  Invite the Holy Spirit to teach you as you read through it and then talk to your daughter about your convictions. 
Moms, wouldn't it bless your daughter if you gave her a little speech that consisted of these things....
Tell her you want to learn how to be a better mom and you need her help.  
Ask her to grade your communication skills.  
Ask her what she wants you to know, but is afraid to tell you~ 
and tell her you will listen without overreacting or defending yourself.  
Admit that you sometimes react out of fear, but that fear is rooted in love and sometimes you express your love in an unhealthy way.  Tell her you want to grow to be a mom that responds with love and faith.  

How would you have felt if your mother had said these things to you? 

{A Word of Caution!  Before you give this to your daughter, ask her to be kind and gentle toward you.  Tell her you are willing to learn, even if what she says is hard to hear~ 
And then ask God to give you a tough skin and soft heart!}

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