"Showing love takes an intentionality to recognize who your preteen is, who they are becoming and how we can best point them to the perfect love of God through our own creative love!
These words are uttered routinely as they exit the car for school, in the middle of a disciplinary conversation and every night as I tuck fluffy covers around their footie pajama-covered bodies.
My daughters know I love them.
My oldest daughter is just starting to dip her toes into the world of preteen-dom. She is a confident third grader who is counting down the days until she’s double digits. If I want my preteen to know that God and I love her, it’s going to take more than just repeating, “I love you.”
Here are five ways I’m trying to go beyond just saying the words – and hopefully you can use them, too, to show your preteens love this week!
1. Pick a song for your child. Maybe it’s a silly song, a worship song or maybe one you used to play for them years ago when you rocked them to sleep. Tell them why this song reminds you of them. Tell them that because you love them, this song means more to you when you hear it.
2. Give them 30 uninterrupted minutes. Let them choose how to spend those 30 minutes with you. When offered this, my daughter always chooses “tea and talk time.” Her favorite activity in the entire universe is to talk, so for those 30 minutes I can show her I love her by simply listening. Maybe your child would want to play a game with you or take a walk around the neighborhood. The key here is letting THEM pick!
3. Let them do something “adult-ish.” Teach them how to pump gas in the car. Allow them to make dinner for your family. Ask them to help you plan your vacation. Head to a deserted parking lot and let them sit in the driver’s seat and practice parking. Preteens feel trusted when we give them independence. This trust screams, “I love you!”
4. Ask them to teach you something. Many preteens are learning new skills and abilities and probably know a few things you don’t. Have them show you how to play a few notes on their clarinet. What are some of their soccer drills? Just how in the world does this new math work? Use encouraging words like, “You’re great at this!” or “How do you do this so well when it’s so hard!?” Remember, this isn’t your time to teach or correct them, it’s their opportunity to share with you!
5. Hug them – hug them hard. Our kids are never too big for us to hug and hold. I’m 39 and my own father still breaks at least one of my ribs every time I see him. It’s a delicate balance with preteens that involves respecting their physical space and still showing them love physically. My vote is always on the side of hugs.
Showing love takes an intentionality to recognize who your preteen is, who they are becoming and how we can best point them to the perfect love of God through our own creative love!
Cindy Branton and her husband, Mike, are the parents of Brielle, Braelyn and Briarly. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.