The Letter to My 10-year-old Daughter That Changed Our Relationship
07 Aug 2015
A few months ago, I was at my wits’ end with my daughter who just happens to be a smidgen more stubborn than I am. We butt heads often because we’re so much alike. But I also understand that it has a great deal to do with the environment that our children are growing up in, which is so much different than the one many of us were raised in by our own parents. Disrespect? What was that? Talking back? Oooo, you knew you weren’t sitting for a few days.
But these days, we have to find ways to balance good parenting with competing influences from the rest of the world—not to mention our own children’s personalities. I have had to come up with creative ways of disciplining my daughter (i.e. making her squat 50 times while picking up and dropping her clothes back on the floor to get her to stop throwing her cloths on the floor. Unh-uh, I pay too much money for those clothes!). I’ve also had to find ways to remind her that I want our relationship to be more than just about ongoing lectures and consequences for bad behavior.
One week was particularly bad and I got to a point where I was just tired. And I know she was too. It felt like every five minutes, I was lecturing her about something she did or didn’t do. And then I had to stop and take a breath. I remembered that she is about to enter some of her most formative years and I didn’t want this constant lecturing and disciplining to be all she knew me for. I didn’t want to it block the flow of our communication down the road. And so I did what I knew to be really important. I wrote her a letter about everything I thought was brilliant about her…
I am writing this to let you know that despite how it may sometimes seem, there are many things that are wonderful about you. I am blessed to have you as my daughter and am in awe as I watch you grow into a young lady. So even when I get frustrated and angry with you, it doesn’t change the fact that I love you with all my heart. I hope things begin to improve so that there are fewer reasons for me to be frustrated, but in the meantime, I want you to know what I think is really wonderful about you. Hold on to this letter and read it anytime you feel sad, angry or like you can’t do anything right. We all sometimes feel like that, but it’s usually up to us to do something about it.
What I think is wonderful about YOU:
1. Your joyful laugh.
2. Your determination to teach yourself new things.
3. Your thirst for knowledge and your ability to retain it.
4. Your fearlessness.
5. Your creativity.
6. Your (corny) sense of humor.
7. The way you take care of your siblings.
8. Your commitment to doing well in school.
9. Your hospitality.
10. Your smile that lights up your face.
11. Your gift for art and culture.
12. Your singing (sometimes J)
13. Your ability to remind me to have fun.
14. The way you can make friends and carry on a conversation with anyone.
15. Your cooking (errr…sometimes).
16. Your silliness.
17. Your writing (stories).
18. Your handwriting (when it’s neat).
19. The way you teach me how to use my phone.
20. Your ability to make and sell whatever you put your mind to.
21. How you tell me about your day and your friends.
22. Your LOVE.
I pray everyday that God continues to protect you and guide you as you become older and more independent. Always put Him first, and you will succeed in all you do.
There’s something to be said for positive reinforcement. Ever since I gave her this letter, I’ve noticed greater effort from her part to do her part and become less disobedient. Things are not perfect, nor will they ever be—but, I can definitely say that this letter has improved our relationship for the better. In fact, when I asked her her permission to use this letter in my blog post, she told me that she carries it in her backpack every day. I had no idea. Don’t ever take for-granted how much your children need to hear your praise and make sure you find something positive to recognize them for on a regular basis. It will change your relationship.
How do you keep the flow of communication open with your children?