Connecting With My 13 Year Old Daughter
When my daughter was a toddler, bonding came in the form of cuddles, tickles, and bedtime stories. I stood behind on the ladder at parades and laughed when the powdered sugar made a mess eating beignets. It was easy and intuitive. As she entered her pre-teenage years, and now the big 1-3, I realized that our bonding sessions had to evolve. She wants to walk the parade route now and meet a friend at the snowball stand. It has now become more of my quest for connection, understanding, and mutual respect. Here’s my journey.
1. Listening Before Speaking
At 13, she is developing her own set of opinions, beliefs, and interests. Initially, I would jump in with my advice or anecdotes from my own teenage years, but I am learning the value of simply listening. By giving her the space to share without judgment, I am signaling to her, that her voice matters.
2. Shared Activities
I am seeking out bonding moments that can come from shared experiences. We go to high school football games together… well, I drive her, but we chat to and from and have a great time recapping the night. We have also started collecting and sharing recipes to bring to the grocery to bake or cook together.
Even if we are sharing some songs in the car together, we are then having meaningful conversations and laughs that I feel are cementing our bond.
3. Being Tech-Savvy (or at least trying!)
It’s the digital age, and my daughter, like many her age, is immersed in it. Instead of resisting, I tried to understand. She and her younger sister enjoy showing me dance trends and introducing me to new songs. It wasn’t always easy for me, but it made her light up seeing me make the effort. I felt we reached a new level when she started sharing her favorite “cute puppy videos” with me.
4. Respect Her Independence
As she is growing, she seeks to have more independence. It was a tough pill to swallow, but I recognized that by respecting her need for space and freedom, our bond grew stronger. Small gestures show this, whether knocking on her bedroom door and not just bursting in or offering to help before jumping in.
I hope this level of trust I am showing in her will mean she can come to me when things get tough.
5. Weekly Check-ins
Despite our (mostly hers lol) busy schedules, we established a weekly check-in – a set time where we’d just sit and chat about anything and everything. No topic was/is off the table, it has became our safe space to connect and catch up.
6. The Power of Small Moments
It wasn’t always the grand gestures that mattered most. Sometimes, it was the spontaneous snowball trips, the late-night movie marathons, or just singing our hearts out to her favorite songs in the car. I learned to value these moments and recognize their significance.
7. Always Being There
Teenage years may come with their fair share of ups and downs. I want to be there with her and for her… on her terms and ideally, our terms together.
Bonding with my 13-year-old daughter isn’t about recreating the past, but about forging a new path forward together. Through patience, understanding, and genuine effort, I hope the bond between us only grows deeper with time. And I am counting down to when she is old enough to ride with me in my parade…one milestone at a time.