You knew the day was coming. The day where she gave you the awkward slide glance around her friends at the bus stop at one of your “dad” jokes, or sidestepped out of one of your signature a big bear hugs. And yes, it stung a little bit. Your little princess, artist, musician, scientist or ball player is growing up and becoming a woman (or really just beginning to search and grasp for her independence and identity).
I know the feeling. It is all too real and recent. And perhaps a little earlier than I expected with my eldest daughter. But here is where it gets interesting! Initially, you may feel a little distant, confused and literally a little lost for words. Don’t worry, I believe that for both you and your daughter (and wife, spouse or partner) that is all normal. Closed doors, headphones in the car, and hours lost in drawing (or for many of you, her phone) is now all part of “growing up”. The reality is, I believe she needs you now more than ever.
Your big bear hugs may change to your own personalized reverse over the top high five with a few sound effects, or your time together might be spent shuttling her to a sleepover or roller skating, but what is important is that you are present, connected and available. Beneath all of it, she is still your “little” girl. She may not tell you, but she wants you to protect her, nurture her, equip her for the challenges, adventures and roller-coaster of adolescence and life.
It will look different, and feel different, but celebrate the moments across each stage of her development. A lot of us believed and might have been told that we just needed to survive the first 2 years of baby and the terrible two’s, but the true test is today.
Protect your time with her. Be intentional. Listen to her. Equip her. It will be tough. But truly joyful!