How can I connect with my daughter?
That question is always at the top of my mind.
Over the last year or so, as my daughter gets older, all I can think about is that in a few short years she’ll be out of our house and on her way to college. It might seem a little silly, but I miss her already! Back when she was first born, it was she and I against the world. We were super tight and did everything together.
In fact, when I found out via ultrasound that I was having a daughter, I remember saying, “She is going to be my best friend!” While I know that being a mom is very different than being a friend, I very much enjoy my daughter’s companionship. She is so silly and fun to be around. Whenever we go out together, we always find a way to have an adventure.
Our family has grown, and now we have our two guys. Our family spends a lot of time together, and I’m grateful for that, but I want to make sure Ayva and I stay connected in our own special way. I’ve been volunteering a lot with her extracurricular activities. As the coach of her volleyball team, and the co-leader of her Girl Scouts troop, we relish those opportunities to do things without the boys around.
I’m taking advantage of our time together now
Even though I’m intentional about the quality time we spend together, it’s inevitable that there will come a time when my daughter is not as available. Although she’s only a pre-tween, she loves being social. Any chance she can get to hang out with her friends, she’s going to take it. I can only assume that as she gets older, that desire to be with her buddies will just get stronger.
I’m not looking forward to sharing my baby girl, but she has the right to grow up and spend time with her friends. I can’t help but remember how I was when I was Ayva’s age and a little older. I never wanted to be with my family. My friends and I were always together.
Right now, our quality time is mostly just competing with the activities and responsibilities that we both have. We’re in the car a lot, and I take full advantage of the car time to build and connect with Ayva. We talk to each other a lot. She loves to ask me what if questions, and I like to get all the tea on what’s going on with her classmates. Our conversations are juicy!
Of course, sometimes, especially when we’re on our way back from an activity, we’re just too tired to talk. That’s how I stumbled on this unexpected way to connect.
Sometimes we listen to podcasts in the car when we’re on our commute, but for the last few months, we’ve been listening to audiobooks.
Audiobooks are great because not only does it keep us entertained, but it also gives us ideas of things to talk about. Each chapter is a chance to discuss what happened, and depending on the book, it’s an introduction to different social and emotional themes that I can go deeper into with her.
We’ve listened to several books together via Audible. We choose the book together based on a list of criteria that we determine (the last book had to have a female character who was 9 or 10, needed to be funny, and have short chapters, among other things), and listen about 50% of the time that we’re in the car. The other 50% is spent talking!
Every book that we’ve listened to so far has had a strong, three-dimensional girl child as the lead. A benefit of reading the books is not only our connecting, but both Ayva and I are being empowered by hearing these stories of girls overcoming obstacles, or being true to themselves.
If you’re looking for a way to connect with your daughter that doesn’t feel forced or awkward, give audiobooks a try. Listen, ask questions, and bring it up even when you’re not in the car. It will make it feel like your special thing, and she’ll appreciate it.
Audiobooks for daughters and moms that Ayva and I recommend:
Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
Bob by Wendy Mass & Rebecca Shead
A Wrinkle In Time by Madeline L’Engele
Front Desk by Kelly Yang
The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson