Enjoying Your Daughter at Any Age

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One of my mentors said to me many years ago:
“It’s great to work on cleaning the barn, but don’t forget to RIDE THE PONIES!”

Are you so busy reminding your girl of her homework/chores/the need to get-out-of-the-door, that you don’t have time to enjoy her anymore??? If you wonder where did all the joy go, now that your girl is approaching puberty, read on…

When I heard myself sounding like an old tape-recorder reminding my daughter Ellah (9) of simple things she needs to do every day, I decided to start taking walks with her.

We bundle up every morning before school, and go for our special time together. We pause as we enter the walking trail, and thank Mother Earth for her beauty. While Ellah skips, hops, and jumps around me, I take my “power walk.” We invent little songs and pacing-rhymes; we open our eyes to see the skies, our ears to listen to birds, and our hearts to take in the beauty. I enjoy my daughter’s company immensely on these walks, as well as get my exercise!

How can you implement this with your girl (or children)?
What allows me to enjoy my girl’s company so much is the fact that we are spending special time outside our family’s daily obligations! There are no dishes to wash, no chores for her, no phone calls or email distractions for me…

Create a daily, weekly, or any recurring occasion for you and your girl to spend one-on-one time outside of the home. It is important that you are both away from your daily environment and the myriad of things that demand your attention. The quality of this time is initiated by the virtue of scheduling it! This demonstrates to you both how important your relationship is… If you have more than one child, devote shorter one-on-one time to each, on a regular basis. Your exclusive attention will matter far more than the length of time you spend.

MODELING VERSUS TELLING

On my walks with Ellah I give voice to my enjoyment of nature; I breathe deeply and speak my appreciation of what I see. When it’s time to turn back I announce this to the trees, and ask that one of them draw my attention and give me a message. Ellah was so taken by this on our first walk, that she now gets four or five messages from trees every day! I don’t need to give her speeches about how alive nature is, or how it speaks to us if we listen. This would have sounded like a lecture! Instead, I model what I want her to know.

So many Moms tell me their daughters don’t share anything with them. Well, do YOU share with your daughter??? Do you model the behavior you would like to see?

The shift from “Telling” to “Modeling” is a small but profound one! It will make the difference between your girl tuning you out or walking away, to her listening, and sharing her experiences with you!

Cultivating this practice is particularly important as your girl approaches puberty (and even more so if she’s already there!) Taking a walk, or setting aside regular times for the two of you alone, will give you the opportunity to speak with her about tender transitions in her body and heart.

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© 2011 DeAnna L’am, All Rights Reserved

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