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