Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: Mama’s Kiss #32 –Mother-Daughter Time

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2299_49517101383_5902_nSometimes our children desperately need to see us, as moms, being sacrificial. They need to personally benefit from our parental sacrifices in order to develop, in their own hearts, the virtue of selflessness. Though they are unable to verbalize the process, their little minds are wrapping around the concept of heroism and how, every single time, the true heroine is the one who sets aside her own desires for the good of others. Every time you show them this heroism, whether in your deportment with those outside your home or in your daily relationships with your children, you are placing mortar between the building blocks of great character.

When you cancel a hair appointment because of a last minute little league tournament, when you miss the awards ceremony at school to go to the gospel meeting, when you let the housework wait a while so you can spend time flying kites with kids and when you make that extra trip to the store to get ingredients for a meal to take to a neighbor who suddenly fell ill—all of these kinds of episodes in daily life are very important. Your child, though at the time she may seem unaffected, even self-absorbed, is noticing and figuring out that the path to happiness is not the popular path of seeking attention or receiving accolades. It’s the path to the upper room with the basin. It’s getting on the floor to wash feet, on the ladder to wash windows, on the bleachers to cheer someone else on, and on the cardiac floor waiting with anxious family members. It’s in a thousand spots all around us every day where there are needs waiting for servants. We just have to be astute enough to choose as many of these spots as is feasible every day.

I remember a stage of life when my daughter, at about age eight or nine was crying out for my attention. I was a busy preacher’s wife, a homeschool mom and co-op teacher, a Bible class teacher and teen mentor. But for all of the good things I was doing, I was failing as a mom. She would tell me that her school work was done and I would find that her effort had been half-hearted. She would fail to obey and I would find that I had miscommunicated the instructions or she had not listened clearly. Then arguments about who was really to blame for the dishes being unwashed or the assignment being incomplete would ensue. It often seemed that a big chunk of our day was spent in unpleasant exchanges at the end of which one or both of us would be crying. I would second-guess my discipline procedures and she would try to convince me that I was being unfair. Though disrespect was never allowed, the relationship was often strained.

One of the things that turned the corner from this unpleasant stage was a decision Glenn and I made over lunch one day. On this particularly trying day, I was up to my ears in angst and regret. I remember the resolve with which I left that lunch table. I felt better just having a new plan of attack. One of the plans we executed at that table, we now call “Mother-Daughter Time” and its success in our home was phenomenal.

Mother-daughter time has rules:

1. Mom spends time alone once a week with her daughter. If there’s more than one daughter, then each daughter, who still lives at home, has to wait until it’s her week to be the object of mother-daughter time.

2.There can be no schoolwork, housework or other assignments involved in mother-daughter time.

3.Mom does not answer her phone (emergencies excepted) or email or text during mother-daughter time. (And, for that matter, neither does daughter.)

4. An activity is planned a couple of days before its execution (so there is a time for expectation). The activity can be anything the daughter enjoys. It can cost a nominal amount or it can be a jog on the free nature trail. It can be away from home or it can be a pizza and movie at home (but everyone else has to be gone.) The daughter understands ahead of time that this is about being together and NOT about spending money each time.

5. Every mother-daughter time should be the subject of Mom’s prayer before it occurs—that it will be a help in softening the heart and making the child realize how much you care about her development as His child. It goes without saying that every activity should be godly and wholesome. (Mother-daughter time at a raunchy movie will NOT achieve any worthwhile purpose. Being emotionally close to my child as she travels to hell is not the objective.)

6.What happened at mother-daughter time should be the subject of a dinner table conversation with Dad after each time so that Dad can subtly reinforce in her mind the blessing she has in a mom who wants to be with her.

7. Mother-daughter time should be practiced simultaneously with “Three in the Eyes.” which will be described in the next “Bless Your Heart” post.

It’s pretty sweet now that she’s twenty-seven and has a child of her own when she says “Can we have mother-daughter time and do ___________________?” My answer now is almost always “Yes!” You may be thinking that you simply cannot pack in one more weekly activity. Therein could lie the problem. I do not have all the answers, of course, but I do know that all of our children need to see that we WANT to spend time with them because we love their personalities and crave their conversation. It has to be more than just carving time for their ball practices and games, their gymnastics classes, their piano lessons and homework. They have to see us desire to be with them, personally, one-on-one. It’s a vital part of training a servant’s heart when I show a child that she has intrinsic value in my life. Mother-daughter time is just one way of doing that—one way that worked well for us.

Don’t forget to send in your “grand” stories by December 20th to! Read about that here:


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