Excerpt from When A Mom Inspires Her Daughter reprinted by the permission of Harvest House Publishers
So how do you find the time to spend with your daughter? You can’t. Time can’t be found anywhere these days. We make the time for what is most important to us. As soon as your schedule frees up, something else will come up. Therefore, you and I must be deliberate and intentional about spending time with those we love the most. Here are some practical ways to start giving your daughter the gift of your time. It’s really a matter of looking, listening, and learning.
1. Look for opportunities to do something special with her.
Although your daughter needs you on a daily basis, having specially planned weekly dates or monthly outings go a long way in letting her know she’s important. Dana and I like to have something to look forward to that we can do together. It was that way when she was young, and it still is today. Sometimes I’ll tell her on a Sunday afternoon, as she’s leaving for the one-hour drive back to college, that I’ll come that Wednesday or the following week for a lunch date and shopping. We both look forward to those times now.
Here are some ways you can do something special with or for your daughter to show her she’s a priority in your life. If she is young and attends school:
· Sign up to help out regularly in her school classroom.
· Volunteer to drive for and/or chaperone her field trips.
· Stay during her after-school lesson or sports practice, watching her, rather than stopping by to pick her up later. (Even if you do this just once in a while, it will make an impact on her.)
If she is older and/or driving by now or living on her own:
· Buy tickets to a play, concert, or special attraction that the two of you can attend together.
· Schedule a weekly or monthly lunch with her (even if she’s still living at home).
· Take her shopping for her or her children.
· Suggest a book or Bible study the two of you can do together (even if over the phone).
· Talk once a week via phone if she lives far away.
2. Listen for what’s important to her and join her there.
Is your daughter talking about something a lot? That means it’s important to her. Ask her questions about it, which will show your interest, but avoid the tendency to give your opinion or criticize quickly. We will look in the next chapter at a practical way to look at what’s important to her and join her there.
3. Learn how to draw her heart closer to yours.
Become a student of your daughter. Study her. Learn what resonates with her heart and invest in it. Pick up on the little things she likes and start incorporating them into your day or week. Whatever takes time and is spent on her will translate to her that she is important to you.
When Dana was in elementary school, she got very excited when a popular chain of donut shops came to town. Now, I wasn’t interested in donuts (well I was, but not in their calorie and fat count!). But a fourth-grader isn’t counting calories (at least she shouldn’t be overly concerned about them!). So we went to the new shop during its grand opening. She was absolutely thrilled as she watched how the donuts were made and picked out two for her and one for me. (I even splurged and paid $2 each for a glass of milk just so we could drink milk together with
Now, ordinarily I would’ve balked at paying that much for a glass of milk and the low nutritional value of the food. But a memory was made with Dana that day. We ended up going back during Dana’s Christmas and summer breaks from school (that place gave a free donut for every “A” schoolchildren in town received on their report cards, which stocked us up on donuts for a while). And we would stop by if it were time for another “memory”—not because the donuts were healthy or a great value, but because Dana loved it.
Today, Dana steers clear of donuts (because of her interest in nutritional value and, more recently, a medical order to avoid wheat). But she still fondly remembers our dates at the donut place. For that, our visits were well worthwhile.
4. Lose the phone.
I have to say it: Put down the phone. I have regretted many times taking a call when my daughter was talking to me and realizing later, after seeing the look on her face, that she saw clearly she had been “bumped” by someone else I appeared to consider more important than her. If you are expecting an important call during the time you are spending with your daughter, tell her in advance, even ask her permission to take the call. Many times just acknowledging that her presence and feelings are important to you will smooth over any hurt feelings that your calls are more important than her presence. Ask “Do you mind if I take this call?” just like you would if you were having a conversation with a friend or coworker. That will help your daughter to see that she’s not really being pushed aside for someone else. But an even better choice is to leave your phone at home, turn it off, or set it on silent.
Seizing the Day
One thing Dana will tell you today is that her mother knows how to seize the day. After years of working away what could have been memories and having little to show for that “busy work,” I now realize that time is short. I have learned the wisdom behind Psalm 90:12: “Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom” (nlt).
These days, when Dana calls, I’m there. If she wants to talk, I’m in the moment. If there’s work piling up for me to do and she’s home for the weekend, the work can wait until I’ve spent time with her and she returns to school. If she’s homesick and missing some time with me, I’ll drive the 90-minute trip to have lunch with her and hang out for a while. Partly because I’m making up for what I didn’t do so well when she was younger. Partly because I realize even her college years will fly by and I don’t want to miss any more of them than I absolutely have to. And partly because I’ve finally realized life is short and I must seize the day to be with my daughter while she still wants me around.
Dana says, “Being an only child, it is somewhat easier for my mom to give me her complete attention than it would be for a mother of three or four children. Yet I love that when we are together, it seems as though nothing else matters. My mom will still stop what she’s doing to go pick up lunch for me or drive 90 minutes to my college just to have lunch with me and shop.”
Cindi McMenamin is an award-winning writer and national speaker. She is the author of When Women Walk Alone (more than 100,000 copies sold) and When a Woman Inspires Her Husband. As a pastor's wife and Bible teacher, her passion is to help women find strength for their soul. Cindi lives in Southern California with her husband, Hugh.