While going through my daughter’s backpack when she was in second grade, I found a paper on which she had written her spelling words for the week. I was pleased to see an “A” for correct spelling and grammar. But as I read her sentences, I realized whom I had become in her eyes:
“Busy – My mom is always so busy. ”
“Time” – My mom never has enough time.”
“Speed – My mom does things with such speed.”
“Garden – My mom used to spend time in the garden.”
My heart sank as I realized two things: The first was that, to my seven-year-old daughter, I was her whole world. Every sentence was about her mom. She observed me, studied me, wanted to be like me. And the second realization was this: She saw me as busy…as a mom who was rushing through life, not as one who took the time to be with her.
I took a good hard look at my life that evening and repented. I thought about what I wanted to teach my daughter and what I was inevitably showing her from my life. I told God I don’t want to be a mom who is all about what I do. I asked God to help me realize that I only have so much time left to influence her in a positive way and to show her that she is a huge priority in my life.
It was then that God opened up my eyes to Psalm 90:12, a verse that became a motto for my life — and parenting — from that point on: “Teach us to number our days, That we may gain a heart of wisdom (NIV).”
It was clear I needed to start “numbering my days” and focusing on the few things that mattered in life, my growing daughter being one of them. By the grace of God, I was able to make the necessary adjustments in my life, while Dana was still young, to slow down, seize the day, and play with her while she still wanted me around. To this day, that remains the best parenting decision I made, and I believe it’s why she and I are close today.
Just as I made certain changes in my life when Dana was 7, you can make them, too.
Regardless of your daughter’s age, she desires the gift of your time. When she is little she wants you to play with her. As she gets older, she will want you to listen to her, to affirm her efforts, to take an interest in her interests. And when she moves out for college or to start a life of her own, she will still want you to call – or text – and ask how she’s doing. Your daughter will always want to know she is a priority in your life. And it’s never too early — or too late — to start showing her that she is by giving her the gift of your time. When you give your daughter your time, and not just your words, you are showing and teaching her three important truths:
- that she is a priority in your life
- how she can prioritize people in her life
- how she can enjoy life and not rush through it
So how do you actually find the time to spend with your daughter? You can’t. 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 from my book, When a Mom Inspires Her Daughter, to start giving your daughter the gift of your time, regardless of her age:
- Spend at least 15 minutes a day asking her questions and talking with her about what’s important in her life. (This is a great time to pray with her, too, about what’s on her heart.)
- Buy tickets to a play, concert, or special attraction that the two of you can attend together.
- Schedule a weekly or monthly lunch with just her (do this with each of your children if you have more than one.)
- Take her shopping for something she needs and pick it out together.
Look for ways to draw your daughter closer to you. 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. When your daughter has your time, she knows she has your heart.
For more ways to give your daughter the gift of your time, see “Suggestions for Mother-Daughter Memory Making” at Strength for the Soul, my website.
Check out When A Mom Inspires Her Daughter.