29 Ways to Love Your Middle School Daughter

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I'm a dad learning to parent and love my middle school daughter. She is an 11-year-old learning to survive and thrive in 6th grade. 

What worked a few months ago in elementary school requires something different or maybe just done differently. I am adjusting daily.

I don't always get it right. Patience can run thin. Words can be sharp. Responses can be laced with unnecessary sarcasm. Expectations can be too high.

I must do all that I can to learn. I must do all that I can to love. After all, God is: 

  • Trusting me to father her well
  • Expecting me to be a healthy representation of him to her
  • Showing her how a future husband should honor her

Here are 29 ways I am loving my middle-school daughter:

  1. Speak less.
  2. Listen more.
  3. Give unexpected hugs without a word.
  4. Gently touch her chin, guiding it towards me where our eyes meet so I can say your daddy sees you.
  5. Don't give her the "you're crying again" look.
  6. Write more notes.
  7. Choose life-giving words with greater forethought.
  8. Explain why boundaries matter.
  9. Laugh more.
  10. Loan her belief and faith when hers runs out.
  11. Pray with and for her.
  12. Celebrate wins.
  13. Show her how to do what she loves and leave the rest alone.
  14. Sit with her and watch a tv show that she chooses and not flip it to my show during commercials.
  15. Gladly hold her hand when she reaches for mine.
  16. Remind her that this dad is crazy about her.
  17. Show her that serving people is amazing and meaningful!
  18. Live in our new normal so she doesn't feel abnormal.
  19. Give her space to figure herself out, while still being available.
  20. Cheer her on like she is the only player on the field.
  21. Develop her leadership skills for current and future opportunities.
  22. Build character that is sustainable.
  23. Say I love you a lot.
  24. Show her how to lean into pain that life brings.
  25. Be vulnerable.
  26. Live out what empathy looks like.
  27. Care about her friends.
  28. Whisper to her brother to give her space.
  29. Help her listen to God and do what he says.