My daughter asked me if we could have a slumber party. Not for her friends and her. But for me and her. A mommy daughter slumber party. I don’t think she really wants to braid each other’s hair and play Truth or Dare. She mainly just wants me to sleep in the bed with her!
When she first asked me I thought it was cute and kinda waved it away, “Of course we will, baby.” And promptly forgot about it. Then she asked again, “Can we have a slumber party, Mommy?” And it hit me–my daughter is asking to spend time with me. Not just normal every day time. But big important girl time!
Most moms of teens don’t hear, “Mom, wanna have a slumber party?” But how many moms of teens would love to hear that? And I realized, if I don’t make time for a 5 year old party now, we will never have a 15-year-old slumber party. If I don’t take time to do the extra stuff with her now, she won’t expect me (or maybe, even want me) to do it with her later.
No. I believeparents should be parents. But, I also believe in doing our best to strengthen ties between each of our family members. I want my kids to be best friends, and I want my kids to want to be with me when they are older. You know, it’s not impossible. Teenagers aren’t required to hate their parents.
Maybe a good parent-child relationship in the teen years starts when the children are young. My parents always did fun things with me and my friends as kids. And to this day, my long time friends are close to my parents. And so am I!
So, how can we develop and feed this long-term relationship with our kids?
Here are a few idea I’ve noticed and tucked away for future reference:
1. Anticipate Milestones
One of my heroes, Robin Jones Gunn wrote a book called Gentle Passages: Guiding Your Daughter into Womanhood. She tells the story of when she gave her daughter the birds-bees talk, she set up a big tea party in their home. She served her daughter and made the evening a special time for just the two of them. She explained how God made our bodies in amazing ways.
And when her daughter had friends that were terrified of the changes in their bodies, Robin’s daughter said, “Huh? You mean your mom didn’t have a tea party with you and explain everything?”
Robin introduced a possibly uncomfortable topic before her daughter could be scared of it and turned it into a beautiful time that bonded the two of them together.
2. Celebrate Small Things
I’m a big fan of traditions and making memories. I really believe traditions and memories are like tent stakes that connect families together, that keep your kids attached to their parents and siblings. These don’t have to be big we-go-on-a-cruise-every-summer kinda traditions. They can be as simple as the same breakfast every Christmas, a birthday plate or yogurt on the last day of school.
I once heard Reggie Joiner say, “If you don’t celebrate your kids, they’ll turn to someone who will.” I want to set up celebrations and traditions to celebrate the seemingly small things in my kid’s lives so my kids will understand how truly important they are to me!
3. Set the Standard
One of my mentors, Jim Wideman, tells me he played Barbies with his daughters so that when they were older they’d still want to hang out with him. He said he took them to movies when they were kids so that when they became teenagers, they’d still want to go to the movies with him. I think the lesson here is to not segment your life into kid-stuff and adult-stuff, but to encourage family time and play time, even when you’d rather be doing something else. If your kids are used to having you in their life, then there will be no reason for them to step away!
Now, I’m no expert as my kids are only 5 and 3. So, parents with (more) grown up kids…
How do you foster an enjoyable long-term relationship with your kids?