Sometimes all our wonderful plans actually get in the way of caring for the hearts closest to us.
“With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love.” Ephesians 4:2 (ESV)
That’s how people often describe our relationship. Both friends and strangers alike comment on it.
“You and your daughter seem so close. The way you talk and laugh together like you’re a couple of dear friends.”
And I suppose they’re right: we are close.
But you should know that she and I didn’t always enjoy the deep friendship we do now.
Because the truth is, we came very near to not having any relationship at all.
I almost lost her heart when she was a younger girl, and I can’t tell you how sorry I am that I didn’t realize it sooner.
You’re wondering where I went wrong?
That’s what I was wondering too. Aching to understand.
Here I had done so many wonderful things for my daughter as she was growing up. I drove her to every violin lesson for years and years. Hosted sparkly pink tea parties. And generously lent her our expensive video camera when she was in her movie-making stage. Smiled supportively when she decided to color her hair purple as a young teen.
You might say I was the epitome of the well-intentioned mom.
But then that awful day came when she looked me straight in the eyes and bitterly declared, “You don’t even love me, Mom.”
How could that have ever happened? But somehow, I had been so busy getting through each day and getting her to all the various events and places…
That I had overlooked her heart and what she truly needed from me.
I had run roughly right over the top of her—and never even noticed.
With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love. (Ephesians 4:2)
So that was my story.
Connect with Your Child’s Heart
But now what about you? And your own dear girl?
Maybe she’s two years old and you’ve only just begun. Perhaps she’s seven, and you’re still trying to figure her out. Or maybe she’s hitting the teen years, and you’re wondering what you might have missed.
Here’s what I would say: try gentleness.
Unhurried, caring gentleness.
Stop rushing, running, and getting things done.
Funny how quickly we moms fall into the trap of thinking that good parenting means a tidy house or school awards or the right behavior. The checklist and the sticker chart.
When really, mothering is about a relationship.
So why not cancel all your busy, terrific plans for today? And, instead, see how you can quietly connect with your daughter’s heart.
Sure, it will take time, and it’s not anything you can cross off in your planner. But gently showing love is far more important than anything else you might do for her.
Ask me. I know.
Our daughter is now 23-years old; she just texted to ask if we could meet for coffee. She is brimming with news and a long list of things she wants to talk over. She wants to share her life and heart with me.
And I plan on listening, laughing, and slipping in a word of wisdom where I can.
Incredibly grateful for this “second chance” with my girl.
But you don’t have to wait for a second chance. You can connect with your daughter on a heart level, starting right now.
Go ahead. Be gentle with her.
She needs this from you, mom. More than she might ever say.
In His Word
James 3:17, But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. (ESV)
Galatians 5:22, But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith. (KJV)
In Your Life
Would “gentle” be one of the words your daughter would use to describe you? What are some specific ways you can connect with her at a heart level, starting today?
Are looking for help in navigating conversations and showing your daughter that you care? Lisa Jacobson’s book, 100 Ways to Love Your Daughter (& the companion, 100 Ways to Love Your Son), offers simple, proven, and practical ways to build a close and lasting relationship with your child.
You can connect with Lisa on Instagram for more biblical encouragement!