When my daughter Matti turned 10, I noticed her interest in boys was changing. She had always had friends who were boys, but now she seemed to tense up a little when they were around. I wanted to establish a positive rapport with her about relationships with boys now in hopes that she'd continue sharing her thoughts and feelings with me when she was a teen.
One afternoon I asked my daughter what her Prince Charming, the man she wanted to marry, would be like. After we talked about a few of her ideas, I asked her to make a list describing him. Later that week, Matti and I dressed up and had a good time talking about her Prince Charming list over dinner at a nice restaurant.
At the top of her list was her desire to marry a Christian. Next, she wanted him to have a good job. I asked her how she could tell if a young boy would grow up to have a good job. She decided that earning good grades in school would be an indicator. She also wanted her Prince Charming to be handsome and strong, so we thought of ways to tell the difference between a man who's strong on the outside and one who's strong on the inside. Lastly, she wanted to marry a man who liked to have fun.
In the years that followed, her Prince Charming list became a point of reference for the two of us. Because the list was hers, and not mine, it freed me to ask questions about boys she liked without making her feel defensive. When she was interested in a boy, I would ask, "How does he measure up to Prince Charming? What do you see in him that lines up with the list you made?" In high school she became interested in a boy who concerned me, so I asked her if she had changed her list. She glanced in that telltale way that told me she was processing what I said. She didn't answer me, but I felt as though the question prompted her to think back to the list she made.
A few days later she wanted to know why I asked her that question. We had a casual discussion in which I shared my concerns and asked her to tell me the qualities this young man had in common with her Prince Charming. A short time thereafter, she broke up with him. The list provided opportunities for two-way conversations, and to hear what was on her heart.
Matti is now married with children of her own. I still remember the excitement in her voice a few months after she met Jon, her husband. She said, "Mom, he's my Prince Charming! God has given me everything on my list."
Copyright © 2012 by Ali Dent. Used by permission. ThrivingFamily.com.
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