I just finished reading "Girl Talk" by Carolyn Mahaney and Nicole Whitacre. When I picked it up, I wasn't sure exactly what it would be about, but I knew I was overdue for reading it. =) See, I went to church with Nicole and spent a little time in playgroup with her. Her husband was our youth pastor in DC, and her in-laws are a wonderful couple that I enjoyed getting to know a bit. I would call her an acquaintance, but I wish I could've gotten to know her better. Oh well, I got to know her a little better through this book.
And I highly recommend it! I don't have a daughter, but I think some of the principles can apply easily to any parent/child relationship.
One of the themes that I took away from it was simply not giving up in pursuit of your child's heart and trust. The authors' made note of the fact that our culture tells us that it's normal for your teenager to pull away from you and keep you in the dark about their heart's desires. This isn't a biblical model, and you shouldn't let it happen without a fight.
"From time to time my daughters brushed aside my efforts to talk or probe their thoughts. Occasionally they felt awkward, and I had to wait patiently until they were ready to divulge. Sometimes they were happy to chat about trivial stuff but hesitant to share what was on their hearts... Though it wasn't always easy, I sought to lovingly persevere and promote godly conversation."- p. 51
Another important principle that this book brought to life was the importance of humility for moms. I thought this was a great quote, and there are many more like it...
"To help our daughters catch the beauty of biblical womanhood, we must inject our conversations with personal confession and humility and admit when we fall short of God's design. If we proudly seek to present a faultless image, our daughters may well throw up their hands in despair. But when we share our own sins and also our experiences of God's mercy on the sometimes-bumpy trail to godliness, it will encourage our daughters to persevere. Although we must employ wisdom in determining what is appropriate to disclose, our honest communication will make it easy for them to share their own temptations and sins."- p. 54
I think that my parent's generation tended to err on the side of presenting themselves as perfect authority figures. Our generation will probably err on the side of being "friends" to our kids without authority. I think "Girl Talk"'s approach is a wonderful happy medium.
My own mom managed to model a lot of this to me without ever having the benefit of this book. She pursued a relationship with the teenage me, and I didn't shut down with her as a teen. We had a good relationship then, and I can say that she turned out to be right about why every boyfriend I had was not the one. =) I cared about her opinion then, whether I showed it or not, and I still care about it now.
Over the weekend, I picked up "The Runaway Bunny" at a yard sale. I hadn't opened it, but I knew it was a classic I vaguely remembered. I was reading to Seth after I finished my own reading of "Girl Talk," and I picked up the board book to try with him.
In case you don't remember, this book is about a little bunny who wants to run away from home. He comes up with many places he will go and things he will become in order to get away. His mother patiently tells him, in her quiet way, how she will change and move in order to pursue him.
" 'If you become a rock on the mountain high above me, ' said his mother, 'I will be a mountain climber, and I will climb to where you are.' "
In the end, he realizes that he can't get away from her love. Reading it with Seth for the first time nearly brought tears to my eyes. It's a beautiful metaphor of God's love and pursuit of us, and it should inspire us to pursue our own children in love. Gently, quietly, and humbly, of course.