How to be Close to your Daughter

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How to be Close to your Daughter are tips I’ve been quietly researching for years. Intentional bonding is so important to building that strong relationship.

How to be Close to your Daughter bonding tipsYou want to know How to be Close to your Daughter? So do I! I definitely don’t have all the answers, but I think about this a lot. I’ve previously shared my free e-book 10 Intentional Ways to Bring your Family Closer Together, and this is a spin-off of that. How to foster a great one-on-one relationship to be close to your daughter, but this can also be applied to the boys, too. {More pictures from our mother daughter photo shoot in 2015 found on the link}

Something that was hard for me most of my life is that I wasn’t close to my mom. For some reason I still keep trying to figure out, I didn’t always enjoy her company. I feel horrible even typing out those words, but it’s true. She tried and tried, and over the years of working at it, it got better. But I longed for that mother/daughter relationship I saw others have, and I couldn’t help but think it was all my fault.  I don’t have much of a memory before the age of 12, but I remember from 12 on, she tried to get close to me, and I pushed her away. I’d confide in my friends moms, but not mine. It’s not for lack of trying on her part, but disinterest on mine. While I don’t want to discredit my mom for what she didn’t do, that’s all I can think of, going backwards, about what I know she didn’t do, that I’ve found important for me to do. We did outings–shopping trips. There, we spoke the same language. But I don’t remember her doing some of the below, which she may have when I was young and I just forgot.

When I started having children, I figured I was doomed to the torture I placed on my mom. That fear that my kids (more specifically) my daughters, would be disinterested in what I had to offer them. I’ve thought about it every single day, and ask myself, what can I do NOW that my girls are young, to foster a close relationship?

how to be close to your daughter

Well, now I’ve got a 12 year old daughter. And so far…she actually likes me. I can’t believe it, but I’m doing everything I can do build on that, and hope it will stick. These are a few ways that I’m intentionally fostering the relationship with my daughter. Here are my best thoughts on how to be close to your daughter. I’ll let you know in 10 plus years if it all pans out!

  1. Listen with your eyes. This has always been important to me. I stress this with the teenagers I teach, and recognize the importance from parent to child. I mentioned this to a friend once, that when my kids come to talk to me or tell me something, my goal is to immediately stop what I’m doing, LOOK UP, and listen. While I can’t say this happens 100%, I’ll give myself a 93%. Whatever it is that they are sharing, but giving my full attention, I’m telling them/her that it matters, whether I think it’s significant or important or not, it is to her.
  2. One on one outings. People talk about this all the time, but how often do we actually do it? I wish I did it more! With 4, and especially 2 girls, if I ask the older to come along, the younger always wants to come. Sometimes I do both, but I really try to do one on one. Even if it’s just a grocery trip, or an evening walk around the block. I actually love it when my kids want to join me for a nightly stroll, so peaceful. Of course going somewhere fun like an ice cream shop or out to dinner is even better. Once a month is ideal. I try to think of it on their “golden day” (they day they were born, each month).
  3. Show interest/ask about things they love. I remember once hearing a story about a mom trying to get her son to open up to her, and finding all of her efforts futile. She had the epiphany to learn how to play his favorite video game, that she WAS NOT interested in, and as she did, asked him for tips, etc. it opened up a conduit for conversation, even if it was about video games! Eventually, it allowed for more. Think about that thing that your daughter loves that you may not. Ask her to teach you how to do it, and she will surely be delighted.
  4. Once a month sleepovers. This is a bit of a piggy back to the above, but my daughter DOES NOT let me forget this each month, even though I’ll admit, sometimes I hope she does. I LOVE that she loves this, but I don’t sleep so well when we do this. Every month on the 12th (her golden day) we do a “sleepover” in her room or our guest room. I basically join the girls for the night. The ideal is to do nails or something, but we often watch a show/movie, then chit chat as we fall asleep. They have a double bed and for a while, the 3 of us would sleep in it, but now we pull out another mattress for my youngest to sleep on. It’s special, and I enjoy this time we share, even if I don’t sleep as well.
  5. Tuck them in. Ok, I’ll admit, I am NOT good at the nightly routine. I am generally so exhausted each day, I hug and kiss downstairs and send them off, but over the years, I’ve had that prompting over and over and the reminder from others about the importance of the tuck in at night, because they start to talk and talk and talk. Sometimes my daughter will start with, “this may be a weird questions but….” I make sure she knows nothing is weird or off limits. I WANT them to ask me that kind of stuff! I tell the girls to remind me lately about tucking them in, and they do a good job of that. I’m trying this again, and I’m at about an every other night track record.
  6. Pray individually. Along with tucking them in, I’ve felt inspired to not just chat, but to pray WITH them and FOR them. I need my girls to hear me speaking to our Heavenly Father specifically about their needs, and my desire for them to be close and love each other, as well as them being close with me. Prayer is often a way to change our hearts, and I hope that as they hear me pray for the desire for them to be kind, honest, thoughtful to others and our family, that it will internalize and they will strive for that.
  7. Read with them. I’ll admit it, I don’t read books. It’s not that I don’t want to, but reading is hard for me…comprehension is hard for me. I like blogs, with LOTS of pictures to break up the text! But I enjoy reading with them, and they love reading to me. It’s a short list of books we’ve read together, but it’s an effort I aim to make. My favorite has been the Care and Keep of YOU, and American Girl book about pre teens and what to expect during puberty. Great topics to bring up, and they have lots of questions!
  8. Invite them to sit on your lap. In group settings, my older daughter LOVEs to listen to adult conversation. I have to be extra careful. Sometimes I’ll suggest she go get me something, but others I’ll invite her to sit on my lap and hug her. Those public displays of affection (when they are open to it) I believe goes a long way.
  9. Scratch their backs. I do this with all of my kids, no one can resist it! If you want the kids to talk, or just be close to them, suggest they come sit by you so you can scratch their back, or play with their hair. It’s a way to physically be close, and say you care, with or without speaking.
  10. Offer a hug. When my kids get anxious or upset or angry, and I don’t know what to say, sometime, I just open my arms wide and walk towards them and embrace them. I can’t fix everything, but I can reassure them that I love them, and that in due time, it’ll all be alright. Sometimes a silent hug does just that without saying a word. Works miracles, and helps them relax and take a step back.
  11. Always build up, never criticize. I thought this was a no-brainer. But the more I live, the more I realize that it is not for all people.  Semantics are very important to me. I get frustrated when my husband suggests I was “mad” about something when I was simply “annoyed.” BIG difference! The words we use have a huge potential to lift or injure our children. I’ve heard way too many moms comment on the size of their child, their hair being not great, etc. etc. What we say becomes the voice in their heads. Make it positive. Of course we have to course correct, we wouldn’t be good parents if we didn’t, but sharing that you don’t like the actions vs. pointing the blame on THEM, makes a big difference. If you haven’t read my favorite parenting book, you might want to check it out.

There you have it, my thoughts on how to be close to your daughter. These precious girls mean so much to me, and as my oldest just turned 12, I’m very aware that it could turn on me at any time, but I’m trying my best to read her cue’s, and give her distance if she wants it. She just had her golden birthday, and I woke her up with all of these golden balloons. I adore her so much, she is a sweetheart, and she still wants me around, so I’m taking what I can get, and trying to practice all of the tips for How to be Close to your Daughter, crossing my fingers daily!

how to be close to your daughter

I asked for ideas on instagram and wanted to share a few things that friends shared over there:

  • Exercise together
  • Watch TV shows together
  • Talk and sip outings (coffee or sodas)
  • Figure out your kids love languages
  • 1:1 dates–evening walks or making pancakes
  • Letting girls know that nothing is off limits to talk about
  • Ice cream dates
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