The ONE thing I did that transformed my relationship with my daughter…

A few months ago I discovered my youngest daughter’s love language {insert enthusiastic and unapologetic momstyle dance moves here}.

This, my friends, is a huge victory in my little corner of the universe.

My little 8-year-old miss is strong-willed, sassy, creative, and oh-sooooooo-emotional.

I’ve always joked that if this sweet brown-eyed beauty been my first child, she would probably be my only child.

From the moment she was born, she has been pushing my limits and refining my mothering skills.

This girl came out of the womb knowing EXACTLY what she didn’t like about life here on earth, and I’ve been on a mission to discover what she does like ever since.

She is an absolute mystery to me, wild and free, impossible to tame or predict.

Oh, how I have struggled to be consistent with my radically inconsistent child, to be patient and loving even when she tests my patience and refuses my love.

But I know that God has given her to me and commissioned me to love her well.

It all started when I stumbled upon…

A handwritten note she placed in her big sister’s lunch box.

“I hope you have a grate lunch. Plese be good Koontzs by eating all of your lunch.”

How sweet, I thought.

Maybe my little-one loves words, just like her mama.

So I grabbed a pen and sticky note and scribbled a few words for her lunchbox.

“Thank you for helping me make lunch today. I am so proud of you. You are growing up fast! I love you, have a great time at school.”

I noticed something different about her demeanor when I picked her up from school, but I couldn’t put my finger on it until she handed me a bright orange scrap of paper.

“Thank you so much for the card mommy. I luv you too. Thank you for saing I’m growing. It maad my hart happy.”

I barely finished reading the note before she threw her arms around my neck and gifted me with a brilliant smile and a kiss on the cheek.

LIGHT. BULB. MOMENT.

My daughter craves words of affirmation and feels my love when I take time to share my words with her.

We have exchanged several notes since then, and with each note, she invites me deeper into her little world.

I encourage her to include a question at the end of each note so we can learn more about each other, and she loves our new game.

I have finally found the key to her heart and am overcome with a sense of renewed purpose and joy.

Shortly after I started passing notes with both of my children {because it just would NOT BE FAIR otherwise}, my best friend forwarded me an e-mail she thought “my girls and I would be interested in.”

The e-mail contained a heartfelt request crafted by another #girlmom named Jaime.

She was in the process of launching the Kai Kai Brai Tell Me Anything Shared Journal for Mom & Daughter and was looking for bloggers/influencers to review her product.

WILDLY. WAVING. MY. HAND. IN. THE. AIR.

Jaime and I clicked right away, and she generously offered to send me two free journals, one for each of my daughters {praise the good Lord, #momsgottabefair}.

They arrived just in time for Christmas and although the boxes had my daughters’ names on them, I knew from the start that I was the one receiving the most precious gift of all.

The very first thing I did was sit them down at the computer to watch this super cute video that Jaimie and her girls put together, so they would understand how the shared journal experience works.

Then, my girls and I spent most of Christmas afternoon filling out our Mother-Daughter Shared Journals.

Can you believe that of all the toys and gifts my children received for Christmas, they decided to work on these journals first?

Wow! There’s some proof in that pudding…..

Our kids long to connect with us, to feel our love, and these journals give them the opportunity to do just that.

I have been blown away by the things my daughters (age 8 & 9) have been writing in our shared journals.

A Glimpse Inside Our Mother-Daughter  Journals

My children are eager to share their hearts with me and I am blessed by the fact that they are inviting me into their tender places.

I was humbled by my eldest daughter’s written confession that she wishes I would be more patient with her and how much it hurts her feelings when I raise my voice in anger (ouch!) and delighted by my youngest daughter’s plea for advice on how to be nicer to her big sister.

In the front of the journal, we get to write our hopes for the shared journaling experience.

I thought it would be fun to share what the three of us wrote:

Mom: I want to know what you think; what’s important to you. I hope to help you when life gets hard, and want this to be a safe place for you to share your thoughts, feelings, and questions with me.

Daughter #1: We will tell what we feal about echather. Share ower very speshile sekrets. To get closer togeteher.

Daughter #2: That we can keep it a sekret and we can be excited of what you and I can say in this jurnal and we can shar love.

Limited Time Offer + Giveaway 

Wow, you guys!

If you have never considered sharing a journal with your kids, you’ve got to go to www.kaikaibrai.com right now and see what you are missing out on.

Be sure to enter this coupon code at checkout to receive an additional 10% off your order through February 15, 2017:  KKBsarah10

And Jaime has graciously offered to send an additional FREE journal to one lucky reader, and I’m tickled pink to host her giveaway through this blog.

There are so many ways to enter; I do hope that you join in on all the fun.

A few thoughts before you go…

Are you struggling to connect with someone you love? A parent, spouse, friend or child?

Don’t give up!

Keep searching for ways to connect with them, to show them how much you love them.

Try lots of different things and have patience, because most people don’t even know what makes them feel loved until they experience it.

In the words of John 13:34, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”

What is the thing that makes you feel most loved: Gifts, Service, Words, Time, or Touch? Is your love language different from your spouse’s or children’s?

Let’s chat about it in the comments.

This article has been shared at many of my favorite Faith & Family Linkups.

 

Sarah Koontz

About Sarah Koontz

  Sarah Koontz invites Christians of all ages to explore the beauty of God’s design. She is a passionate storyteller who enjoys using illustrations to communicate deep spiritual truths. Sarah lives on 13-acres in South Dakota with her husband, two daughters and a rowdy flock of 30 chickens. She revels in their simple, uncluttered life. Follow Sarah on FacebookInstagram, Twitter and Pinterest. Read Sarah's full Bio Here.

84 thoughts on “The ONE thing I did that transformed my relationship with my daughter…

  1. I so needed to read this! This is something I have started to notice about my 7-year old and just hadn’t cultivated a habit toward her love language yet. A journal sounds lovely!

    1. Amy, I was so encouraged by her quick response to my efforts. Sometimes when we figure out the thing that makes our kids feel most loved, the discovery energizes our continued and consistent efforts. Best of luck with your daughter!

    2. Amy, wonderful to hear! I have three daughters.. 11, 7, and 4 and coincidentally my 7 year old has taken the most to using our journal..she loves the surprise element of sharing her thoughts and creativity to me, then leaving me the PS card notifying me she has journaled…she also loves to see when I have journaled her back.. it’s very fun and special for the both of us. 🙂

  2. What a beautiful, touching story, dear Sarah! I love when you said, “Loving our children is not enough; we must also help them experience our love.” I think the same is true for any loving relationship we have. It’s not enough to just love someone, we have to make the experience real for them and show them we care in tangible, heart-touching ways. As a writer, I love the journal idea too!

    1. I love how you said that we need to “make the experience real FOR THEM.” It’s so easy to love selfishly, and when we feel like it….but digging deep and loving as others need to be loved is the key to intimacy. The journals took our communication to a whole new level, and almost tempted me to start a shared journal with my own mom (how fun would that be?).

    2. I agree Lauren, Sarah has a beautiful way with words in saying we must help our children “experience our love.” When designing our journal we wanted it to be a very “intentional” place to show our love to one another, and share in our special relationship. 🙂

  3. I love this post! My daughter to loves getting notes and writing them back-and-forth sharing words of affirmation.

    As a professional counselor I’m always telling people in the office that families need to have five positive interactions to one negative. Thanks for highlighting this important way to increase a more positive connection with our children.

    1. Such wise counsel, Michelle. I have to work very hard to say lots of nice things to my kids in the calm so that they aren’t overwhelmed in the chaos. The journaling process has opened up a whole new form of communication for us, and I am so grateful I discovered this while they were young. Thanks for stopping by, and I do hope you consider starting a shared journal with your daughter. I was blown away by how excited and engaged my kids are with the whole process.

    2. Michelle I love hearing your feedback as a professional counselor. We have thought of sharing our journal with counselors, as a tool to suggest to families who could use this as a way to help in their relationships. 🙂

  4. My oldest boy (6) has been writing me notes since before he even knew how to write words! They didn’t make sense but he’d draw pictures to make them clearer…now that he’s had school for two years he’s much better at it and I find them on my nightstand, in my bed, and slid under the door. Written words are definitely his love language too! I’ll have to find a boy version of that journal…

    1. Liz…I’ve heard rumors that Kai Kai Brai is working on a boy version of the journal. I’m not sure what the timeframe is, but I bet Jaime will stop by sometime this week and give us a status update.

      1. Hi Liz, we are designing a boy version of the shared journal, as Sarah mentioned. 🙂 We should be releasing it in the near future, so keep watch on our site and social media. I also have a son, he’s my oldest actually, and I realized soon after using our journal with each of my daughters, this would also be so valuable to share with my son as well! My son is actually helping to design it so we look forward to launching it soon! 🙂

      1. I agree Sarah, my girls are sharing so much, and things they normally wouldn’t say on an everyday basis. I love going back and reading things they write, and I also find moments when I think to myself “I need to remember to write this in our journal”…special things I want my daughter to know that I notice about her, and things I want us both to remember one day when we look back on our relationship at this time in our lives. <3

  5. This is beautiful! I’m still trying to figure out my spark plugs’ so-called love languages, too. We’re doing better, but this mother-daughter journal is a fantastic idea!

    1. I had never thought of keeping a journal with my kids until I met Jaime, but it is such a beautiful habit to establish at a young age. Keep persevering, Mom. Your little ones probably don’t know what makes them feel loved yet! It will eventually become clear if you keep trying different things.

  6. This does look like a wonderful tool for moms and daughters!! Entering in the hope of sharing with my 11 year old daughter. 🙂 Thanks so much for linking up with Literacy Musing Mondays!

    1. 11 is a perfect age to start having this type of written correspondence with. There is something about the journal that makes kids feel safe and special, and it opens up a whole new world of communication for mother and daughter.

    2. Hello Brandi, thank you! My oldest daughter is about to turn 11 and she played a big part in designing our journals…I think partnering with my girls in the design, helped us to develop a very special, and fun tool from both a mom and daughter’s perspective. 🙂 Good luck in the giveaway!

    1. I’ve had thoughts of starting a shared journal with my mom recently; there’s lots of stuff I would enjoy writing to her and appreciate receiving her response about. I don’t think it’s ever too late, and I would encourage you to consider starting a habit of letter writing or journaling with your children (no matter their age!).

      1. I agree Sarah, I think there is benefit at any age. I recently talked with a friend who was thinking of using our journal with her aging mother, who is ill. She said she knows their days together are limited and she wanted something tangible to look back on, to read their special thoughts to one another. I think this is where the journal will hold a very special place between moms and daughters, not only today, but in years to come as well. 🙂

      1. Mary I couldn’t agree more. 🙂 I think to feel appreciated, cared for, and noticed goes so far in feeling loved in our relationships. Life can be so busy, but it’s so important to take the time and let people know how much they mean to us.

  7. Loved this, Sarah. You’re girls are the perfect ages to do this. I tried to do a shared journal with my senior girl and it was a great idea a little too late in the game. This looks like such fun.

    1. I’m 34 and I think I would enjoy having a shared journal with my mom even now. Maybe once your daughter is through her “finding her own independence years” she will be open to trying again.

      1. Yes I think girls go through those stages of needing mom for everything, then not so much, to later on (especially when we become moms ourselves) needing our moms more than ever! I think sharing a journal with your mom would be a wonderful idea Sarah.. I think we all appreciate our mom’s wisdom even more as we get older. 🙂

  8. I am so glad you shared this. I struggle with the same issue. My middle child, 8yr old little Diva. She is fabulous and flamboyant and super opinionated. I love her and while a lot of her is just like me, there are parts of her I can not get a grasp on or understand in the slightest.
    My oldest, 10yr old daughter, is a quite logical thinker.
    My girls love to write things down and share with me. I am terrible about stopping and giving them the time and attention I know they need from me.
    I think this idea is just what I need to help me not only stay accountable to respond to them in healthy helpfulways, but also will keep it written down for my girls to have years after they move away from home.
    Thank you so much!

    1. I have trouble stopping too, Suzie. Unfortunately, our kids don’t understand all the responsibilities mothers carry. That said, I’m learning to make time to show them that they are more important than my to-do-list. I’m afraid I’ll never find the perfect balance of stopping and going, but I think the fact that I am trying is what matters. We try to exchange the journal at least once per week, and I think that one of the most important parts of it is the fact that my kids will be able to look back and see how much I cared about them as they read our notes years later. I do hope you give it a try!

      1. Suzie, I love your comment and your feelings are the exact reason I decided to design this journal with my girls. I felt it was becoming harder to make quality time for each of my children, to really feel I was connecting with them, and available to them. I realized we needed to create something to help us connect in a more meaningful way, and have an intentional space to share privately. I think my daughters (who are all so different from each other as well) are each sharing things with me they wouldn’t if they didn’t have this space, and the journal prompts help them along too. It gives them a place of openness that they know they can share anything, at anytime, and they will have my full attention (and me with them too, which I love as well.) It’s so special to share individually with each daughter..and yes, I agree to open this journal in years to come to see who were were at this time in our lives and what our relationship was like, I imagine it will be something we both treasure. 🙂

  9. I personally am a words of affirmation gal so this even speaks to my heart. I like this idea as sometimes I feel like this can be more intimate than speaking. Hoping to open some doors with my girls.

    1. I love you, Abby. You are a great mom, a caring friend, and a dedicated volunteer (at Church, MOPS, and School). I am grateful for you and glad to know your love language! I really think your girls would eat up these journals and will try to remember to bring mine to show you at piano today. That said, I’m not feeling well and there’s snow in the forecast….so we’ll have to see!

      1. Abby you sound like a lovely friend, and I love your comment that writing is more intimate than speaking.. I think we ‘think out’ our words and feelings more as we write, and we can ‘receive’ the message clearer and more openly when it is read, than if spoken to us…it just feels more heartfelt sometimes. 🙂

  10. This whole post reminded me of my mom and her sweet gentleness. I’m 41 and she still does little things that make me feel cared for and honored. I endeavor to do the same for my kids and notes is one of those things. Sometimes it’s helping them when running late or showing enthusiasm about something they love. I can’t take credit for these ideas, but I’ve asked the Lord to help me listen for when my kids need that extra something from me that just helps them to feel and experience my love. I adored your post! Visiting from #sittingamongfriends today

    1. Oh, Angela. I want to be like your mom! It is so difficult to keep life and motherhood in perspective, but I want my girls to know how much they mean to me. I think asking the Lord for help/direction and taking the time to listen to your kids (watch your kid’s behavior-moods, try to understand what makes them feel loved) is so important. I’m so glad you stopped by! Here’s to walking in your mom’s footsteps for years to come.

        1. Bless your Mom, Angela.. I loved reading what you said. We never stop mothering do we?..no matter our age, or the age of our kids. I love thinking I will still be doing things for my kids when they are grown. #momgoals

  11. Sarah! Oh my goodness, this post is SO close to my heart! I have an almost 8 year old daughter, and ever since she was about three or four, the Lord has placed on my heart the desire to start a mother-daughter program. (I always knew I wanted to do it when she turned eight!) This group is a way for me as a mom to be intentional about teaching my daughter who she is in Christ–that she is a beautiful and precious jewel. We just had our first meeting last weekend! We had ten girls, eight moms, and lots of laughter! For our next meeting I wanted to do exactly what you wrote about–compile a mother-daughter journal! God’s timing is always RIGHT ON TIME! I will definitely look into Jamie’s amazing journal and tell the moms in our group! Thanks so much for sharing!

    1. Christin, you just made my day! I love how God works. I am so proud of you and the work you are doing. The mother-daughter relationship is so close to my heart, and the decisions we make when our kids are 8-15 years old will affect them for the rest of their lives. Praying for you and this special ministry this morning, and please keep me posted. I know that Jaime is looking for bloggers/influencers to review her journals….maybe you could reach out to her. It sounds like your ministries are very compatible!

      1. Christin, thank you for reaching out to me. Your mother-daughter program sounds amazing and I would love to stay in touch & continue hearing more about it. When God pulls at our heart to do something, you know amazing things will happen.. praying for your ministry. God bless you!

  12. This is a fantastic idea! While my love language is acts of service, I think my oldest daughter, whose language is a combo of quality time and gifts, would absolutely LOVE this! I had no idea this existed! Thanks for sharing, Sarah!

    1. Me neither, seriously! How cool is this? I’m so glad I found out about this product and I told Jaime that we will probably make it a Christmas tradition to give the girls a new journal each year. Maybe your lucky streak will continue……

    2. Hearing about everyone’s love language is so inspiring! I think it’s so much easier to show someone they are loved, when we realize how they ‘feel’ love.

      Shari our journal combines many elements to share together from the journal pages, create pages, girl time section filled with quality time ideas, memory scrapbook pages to document those times shared, tabs to know where they’ve journaled, stickers… we tried to think of everything to provide moms and daughters a private, special place to share deep thought and light fun with a complete journaling experience. We would love for you and daughter to check it out! 🙂

  13. Time and touch for me. I am seriously considering this journal for my soon to be 10 year old. She is struggling with friends difference of opinion lately, in and out of school. She and I butt heads a lot but she is learning to vocalize her feelings more these days and I think having a journal might help bring them out more and hopefully bring us together more too. Love this brilliant idea of a product. Can’t wait to try and apply this in my relationship with my daughter. Thank you so much for sharing your insight into you and your own daughters’ lives.

    1. Melissa, being a mom is tough. Being a 10-year-old girl is tough. We need all the help we can get, and I can’t recommend this journal enough. It’s not just the writing in the journal that matters, it’s the closeness you feel that pours over into other aspects of your life. It’s the conversations that start in the journal and carry over into car rides and dinnertime. In the back of the journal, there are lots of mother-daughter date ideas, and my kids are now eager to do pedicures and have a sleepover with me (something we wouldn’t have thought to do otherwise). Saying a prayer over you and your baby girl right now.

    1. Melissa, I love hearing from other moms who are brave enough to share their journey….the struggles that we all feel and endure being a parent and trying to raise kids who are also going through their own struggles. What you described is what I was going through with my own daughters and why I decided to design this journal with them, to help us…and to hopefully help other moms and daughters too. I think our journal could be a wonderful tool to share with your daughter..it gives space to share deep thoughts about how we are feeling and a place to remember (though the girl time areas, create pages, memory areas..) to remember to have FUN with one another too and make lasting memories together.

      Sarah, your recommendation of our journal and how it has helped you and your relationship with your girls, is so heartwarming to hear… it reaffirms what I feel the journal has done in my own relationships with my girls, and also gives me (and my girls too as I tell them these stories) great peace in hearing how our journal is helping others like we’ve prayed for. <3

    1. I am so glad you connected to our story, I’m guessing it is all too common of a struggle for moms of girls. Females are just complicated! I recently heard a marriage/family expert say that it is super important to establish solid communication patterns with your kids between 8-12, because once they hit their teen years, it gets exponentially more difficult. Saying a prayer over you and your daughters right now. May God continue to strengthen your relationship and give you courage to continue to pursue them well into their teen and adult years.

    2. Sarah D, I agree, I can’t believe how fast they grow up! I have an 11, 7, and 4 year old daughters and I am already seeing how our relationships and their communication changes at these different stages. I think, especially as they get older, there are those ‘shy’ topics that are sometimes hard to bring up, and the journal helps give us a space to start those conversations, and keep us talking. I think we share on a deeper level than we did, and the confidence and trust we feel is growing even more…I hope they continue to talk to me too and pray our journal helps this as they continue to get older.

    1. I’m beyond thrilled at the change I’ve noticed in my daughter since I discovered her love language. It’s been a lesson in perseverance, and I’ve got a feeling I’m just beginning. Thank you so much for stopping by today, God bless!

  14. So good! Going through a crisis currently with my 7 yr old daughter and I do believe words of affirmation are her love language. She is just so complex and it’s so hard; my husband and I say she has a leaky love tank. We pour all we have trying to keep her afloat (and she still feels unloved at the end of the day) and the younger 3 miss out often because she requires so much of our time and attention. This is definitely good encouragement! These journals look great. I would say I respond best to acts of service.

    1. Laura, I say the EXACT same thing about my oldest. We aren’t having trouble with her, but her love tank definitely leaks. I actually wrote a whole article about it last year. If you haven’t read it, you definitely should! I’m sure you will be able to relate on some level….. http://www.sarahkoontz.com/leaky-love-tank/

      Thanks for stopping by, glad to know I’m not alone in the swamp of motherhood!

      1. Oh my goodness Laura, I connected with you when you described this ‘leaky love tank’… I have never thought of it that way, but feel this with my youngest daughter too, and can relate to having 3 other children who sometimes miss out, because of the extra attention to this child. I hope you check out our journal and this helps you with your 7 year old. 🙂

        Sarah, I can’t wait to check out this article you referenced!

  15. Love. Love. Love! My daughter and I traded notes in lunches, on whiteboards, and anywhere else since she was in kindergarten. I still find our notes tucked away and in old journals. My daughter is older now and we have some deep conversations. I’d kind of forgotten about leaving notes, but I think I’m going to start up again. Thanks for the reminder!

    1. I love this Laura….I too wrote notes to my mom when I was a little girl, and was a big reason why I felt this may be a special and effective way to communicate with my own children, and why we designed the journal to share this concept in one place. I wish I could see the notes I wrote as a child, to peek into my mind at that time in my life, and how my mom and I shared back then. I think its a lovely that you kept those notes between you and your daughter, and a wonderful idea to leave notes for your her again. 🙂

  16. Aw, what a sweet story! I’m glad you found your daughter’s love language. Mine is definitely words of affirmation. For people who have a different language, they can’t believe it can be so simple to make me happy with just some encouraging words. 🙂 But it’s true.

    I love this as we can apply it to all our children: “But I know that God has given her to me and commissioned me to love her well.”

  17. My love languages changed as I grew older and had kids. Service and quality time. Also tied with words of affirmation. My husband is good about telling me he appreciates me and I’m doing a good job as his wife and as a mother. So thankful!

  18. What makes me feel most loved is time, and presence. When my children spend time with me and are actually present, not using their electronic devices, I feel loved. I also feel loved when they hug me or cuddle with me.

    1. Being present is so important, isn’t it Susan? No one ever feels loved when those around them are distracted by seemingly “more important, more pressing” things. We try very hard to limit screen time in our home (parents too!). Thanks for stopping by and sharing with us today. God bless.

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