Have you ever felt like a caterpillar? Did you ever go through a stage when you believed you would never turn into a moth, much less a beautiful butterfly? For some women, those feelings can last for decades, while others may only feel like that for a few weeks of their lives. I would imagine if you ask most women when those feelings peaked though, they would tell you the tween/middle school years.
When our daughter was in late elementary school, we found the Secret Keepers by Dannah Gresh. (This link is what I believe is the current edition. Ours had cassette tapes!) The program was about modesty, beauty and all of that fun girl stuff from a Christian perspective. The series itself was fine, but what made it so special was the “date” we went on for each lesson. I only remember one now, because our daughter got to bring a friend and it involved trying on a lot of clothes – not normally a favorite thing of mine to do. We had a blast though.
Over the years, we have had other mother/daughter dates and even a few vacations. All were special and helped us build a strong relationship. Even now, with her 3000 miles away in college, we touch base or talk pretty much every day. Although I hope our exchanges today still help her through tough days, I think the times we spent together had the most positive impact on her during her tween years.
Being a tween is tough. Your body is constantly changing. It seems like even if you are the most popular girl in school, there are days when no one likes you. Frankly, everyone is regularly cranky for a variety of reasons and teasing and bullying seem to reach a peak. Boys are starting to seem more interesting, but it’s also when most girls are at their most insecure about their appearance.
If you have a very similar personality to your daughter, there may be an additional negative dynamic. Many moms find they naturally clash more with the child who is most like them – often one of their daughters. If you were a slightly older mom, you may find yourself lucky enough to be in peri-menopause as your daughter’s hormones are also raging – adding to the fun. If you clash frequently, your daughter will begin to believe you don’t like her and may not even love her – the last thing she needs in this already difficult period of her life.
Mother/daughter dates are a great ice-breaker and stress reliever for relationships. If you have been clashing a lot, pick an activity where little talking is needed like ice skating or going to a movie. If your relationship is normally warm, these dates can be anything from art museums to hikes to manicures. Take advantage of the extra focused time with your daughter and chat about anything and everything. Chit chatting about “silly” things can still build relationships. When the talk shifts to more serious topics, it’s a great time to give your daughter some godly mentoring. (Just avoid lecturing – you can do that later if necessary.)
Don’t be afraid about sharing your experiences when you were her age. Sometimes the worst part about being a tween is believing you are the only one feeling the way you do. Knowing someone else has felt the same way (Since you are an adult, you have figured out by now most of your friends felt that way too!), can make your daughter feel less alone and more connected to you.
Not sure what to do? There are tons of books and articles you can find online or in bookstores. In my next post, I will share some of the things my daughter and I have enjoyed doing over the years. In the meantime, pull out your calendar and ask your daughter to join you on a mother/daughter outing. I believe you will be glad you did!
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