How to have a relationship with your child as they grow

The other day I was crossing the street with my 10-year-old daughter and I reached out to hold her hand.

She didn’t pull away, but I saw her smile. Her way of saying, “Mom, I don’t need you to do this anymore.”

I love holding my daughter’s hand, but I recognize that she no longer requires my guidance to cross the street.

She is entering pre-adolescence, so she now has the ability and responsibility to handle many things without me.

Of course this can be challenging, but it’s also exhilarating. It’s such a joy to watch her grow, to have more meaningful conversations, to broaden our relationship.

As parents, we need to honor our children’s development and shift around it. We need to make the relationship with our kids our number one priority, which means we have to grow continually.

We have to grow out of the need to do everything for them. We have to grow and let go of what was, so what is supposed to be can naturally unfold.

Too often we hold too tight, we expect the connection to remain the same. But true love is about letting go; it’s about creating space so our children can expand. If we hold them to an outdated version of a relationship, they will rebel, or be inauthentic, or even worse, grow quietly resentful.

Just like when a 3-year-old looks you in the eye and says, “No, I do it myself!”

Too often we become offended or expect our kids to change their attitude. But they are trying to let you know a relationship shift needs to take place. They are asking for a little more freedom.

Keeping my daughter safe always will be my number one priority, but the definition of safety needs to change continuously.

Instead of holding her hand across the street, I now need to create a feeling of safety and connection through my actions.

I need to stay interested, ask the important questions, and listen intently and respectfully, regardless of her answer.

I need to be present so she knows I am accessible. I need to be willing to trust her choices so she integrates a feeling of trust within.

I need to be mature enough to allow my daughter to drop my hand when her friends are around, but allow her to grab it again, no questions asked, when she is feeling alone or afraid.

It is my job to evolve and be open, and to allow my daughter to take the lead. To let her tell me through words or actions that she needs a little more room to become who she is meant to be.

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