At the end of my talk I’m often asked what one piece of advice I would offer parents. Impossible to answer of course, although I did surprise myself one evening by saying “Get a pet!” (Aside: we talk a lot in Girls Journeying Together groups about how to manage the bigger feelings that come in the preteen and teen years and every time someone will say that their cat or dog helps a lot.)
Even better than pets are parents. Nothing beats what a parent-on-a-good-day can offer their child. And because we can’t always be at our best, I’ve a simple suggestion to make up for the times when we’re impatient or distracted: make space for one-on-one time. It can be short and simple, like stopping off at a café for a hot chocolate, but it’s planned, and in the diary at least once a month, so it can be relied upon and looked forward to. Then treat it like a date. Make an effort, put phones away, be fun, don’t cancel.
A child feels good about herself when an adult chooses to spend their spare time with them.
Don’t underestimate how much you can make life good for your child. No matter what else is happening in your child’s life, having time with you set aside makes whatever they are dealing with easier. Make plans today!