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The Journal

The Journal

Something shimmery caught my eye as I entered the room. There on my bed sat a journal with an iridescent cover. I smiled.

This is no ordinary journal. It’s an ongoing conversation between my tween daughter and me. We take turns writing notes to one another and leaving the journal on the other person’s bed.

It was my turn to receive the priceless gift of heartfelt words.

I opened to the most recently added handwritten note. Tears welled up in my eyes as I read. Her words reached down to the depths of my soul. My mind wandered back to the day before. It had been a rough day—full of tense conversations and personality conflicts. Navigating these tween waters has been an adventure, for everyone involved.

In her note, my daughter admitted her part in the previous day’s struggle, along with child-like faith that God will continue the work He’s doing in her heart. She ended by saying, “I want to get to know each other better.”

I reread those beautiful words. “I want to get to know each other better.”

Friendship. She wants a growing friendship with me, her mom.

This is one of the greatest joys and most profound responsibilities of parenting—developing relationships with the dear ones God has given to us. Here are some ways I’m learning to do just that.

  • “I’m on your team”

Growing up is hard work. It can be lonely and frightening at times. Our kids need to know we’re on their team, even when we have disagreements or must administer correction. Spend time together—talking, playing, serving others…

  • Keep the conversation going

Maybe it’s a journal similar to the one my daughter and I use. Maybe it’s a regular date with focused, unplugged time with your child. Maybe it’s a parent-child devotional with conversation-starting topics. Find something that invites an ongoing conversation.

  • Model respect and acceptance

Modeling respect is one of the best ways to teach it. Like us, our kids bear the image of God. They have ideas worth listening to, concerns worth considering and hearts worth affirming. They are not defined by their mistakes, but by the One who created them. He is patiently working in their lives, even as He is in ours. Let’s be their biggest cheerleaders, greatest prayer warriors and most loyal friends.

  • Be the first to say “I’m sorry”

Conflict is inevitable in any relationship. It takes humility to admit when we’re wrong, but it’s vital that our kids see us pursuing peace and reconciliation. I’m often amazed at how quickly my children extend forgiveness when I say that I’m sorry.

Learning to cultivate relationships takes intentionality and perseverance. But as I’m learning from my daughter, the rewards far outweigh the sacrifices made in the moment. With God’s wisdom and creativity, we can build friendships that reflect our relationship with our Heavenly Father.

By: Meredith Mills currently resides in the South with her family of five, though she calls Northern California home. She is passionate about sharing the relentless love of God and encouraging others to walk deeply with Him. She blogs at www.DazzledByTheSon.wordpress.com.

Join us at www.just18summers.com for our parenting blog each Monday-Friday and for info about the Just 18 Summers novel.

2 Comments

  1. This is heart-stopping. The journal idea is beyond words amazing. What a beautiful relationship you have with your daughter. I’m so inspired. Thank you!

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