“How did you do it Laura, what did you do to make the relationship with your daughter so great? You two are so close; what’s your secret?”
These are the types of questions I’ve been asked hundreds of times since my daughter, Hosanna, was born 23 years ago. Let me first say, I am NOT the perfect parent. I made mistakes, a lot of them. I’ve had to say I’m sorry and ask for her forgiveness plenty of times over the years.
BUT, I believe that there are some essential keys that were useful in unlocking the doors to her heart. These were keys that gave me direct access to her thoughts, motives and dreams; keys that opened the doors of communication between us instead of locking it down.
With that, I’ve asked my daughter Hosanna to share what she thought worked between us; things that made her want to continue talk to me. I hope these keys help you too.
Hosanna’s Keys to Having a Good Relationship with Your Child/Teen
Mom didn’t ignore me or tell me to go away.
Whenever I needed to talk with Mom but she was in a conversation, all I had to do was put my hand on her arm and wait until she turned to me. This meant a lot, because I knew I wasn’t bugging her, and I knew that if I was patient I would have my time with her too. Mom never treated me like what I had to say didn’t matter; she valued every question, every single time.
Laura: I think this is a great way to model how our Heavenly Father is with us. He pays attention to us, never ignores us or makes us feel like we are bugging him. I believe through this simple action, Hosanna learned that she would never be pushed to the side because someone else or something else was more important than she was to me. She knew that she was valued and would always have my focus and attention.
I knew that my Mom would never judge me.
No matter what the situation or topic, she was always caring and understanding. She also didn’t fly off the handle when I told her what I was struggling with, or when I would have an emotional melt-down. She would hold me, let me vent, and then we would pray together and find out what God had to say about the situation. It was amazing how her actions brought me so much peace. Without fail, God would give us the ideas and answers that we needed to address the issues, or the steps that needed to be taken to work it out.
Mom rarely made a promise that she didn’t keep.
Instead of saying YES or NO to my request – she would say, “Maybe.” You see, kids are quick to always ask to stay the nights with a friend, to go to parties, parks, shopping, etc. I learned to appreciate her “Maybe,” because I knew it would give her time to think about my request, find out more information, and check with our daily schedule. This way, she wouldn’t have to go back on what she initially agreed to or said no too…which is easy to do when you are busy or can’t take time to think through at the moment. She would take the time to make an informed decision, and wouldn’t be rushed in the process.
Laura: I believe that this simple process helped Hosanna learn to trust my timing and discernment. She allowed me the privilege of making an informed decision, and knew that I would not be rushed into making a quick one if pressured. I think this helped her trust God more too, knowing that He doesn’t always give us the answer we want right away usually, right there on the spot. God has perfect timing, and knows the details of things that we may not see or understand. He has His best in mind for us, and we can trust Him to give us His best and what is best for us every time.
Mom was willing to talk when I was ready to – even when it was inconvenient for her.
For some reason, when it was time for my mom to go to sleep, that was THE time that I was ready to talk. Even though she had to get up REALLY early for her radio show, she was available every time I needed to talk, or just couldn’t stop talking. She knew that if I was being “open,” that she didn’t want to close that door. She sacrificially gave up sleep to keep the communication lines open with me. This allowed me to pour out my heart and say things and ask questions that most kids/teens wouldn’t dare say or ask their parents. I believe it helped me trust her, and made us the best of friends.
She chose her words carefully.
A lot of people will say horrible things to their kids, by calling them brats, or little monsters, or say that their kids is going through the Terrible-Twos. Mom never called me anything like that, and she refused to give into the negative Terrible-twos label. She always said my toddler years were amazing because I was experiencing the Terrific-Twos. She wanted everything that I heard and believed about myself to be full of LIFE and TRUTH of what God said about me – she only chose words to use words that described me or showed me that I was beautiful, loved, cherished, valued. Why not?!? The world (and the enemy) is trying to destroy you and your kids, and will do everything to brainwash you into believing that you aren’t worth anything; that you will never measure up. But Mom literally made me believe good things about myself and my life because that’s all I ever heard. I didn’t even go through a rebellious season because all I heard growing up was that we were going to have a great relationship when I was a teenager, and that I would never have a rebellious heart, that I would stay tender and that our relationship would always be strong. The words she used shaped me into who I am today and what I continue to believe about myself.
Laura: The words you use about you and your children are what they will believe about themselves, about their life, and about you. Hosanna grew up hearing that she had an amazing Mom, that she could always come to me to talk, that she was trustworthy, and would always be honorable to her word. She believed it and still does to this day, and it helped make our relationship strong. She now speaks the same way to the people God puts in her path. She grew up hearing honoring, life filled words, the same way God speaks to each one of us, his kids.
Remember, YOU are Loved!