In my [Pam's] book Got Teens?, written with Hearts at Home founder Jill Savage, we share a few more ideas for family traditions:
Terrific 12. You might be able to beat your daughter to the starting line of womanhood by making her 12th birthday packed with firsts. (For some early bloomers, you might need to move this up a year and do a "Double Digits" party at 11.) Buy her first razor to shave her legs, her first set of high heels or her first makeup set; take her to have her ears pierced or whatever next step you feel is age appropriate for your family.
Sweet 16. Try one of these ideas to mark this big moment (or adapt it to whenever you feel she is ready to date):
- On the Town: Host a formal dinner party where her closest friends (guys and gals) dress to the nines and eat the fanciest gourmet food you can afford. Play classical music, or hire a harpist or a string quartet.
- Dance the Night Away: Host a dance, one where couples learn some classics, like the waltz, swing, tango and two-step. You will have to spring for a band, dance instructor and food, but it will definitely be a memory.
- High Tea: Take her and a few of her closest friends (and maybe their moms or all the female relatives) to high tea. Bring along photos of her growing up years — and yours. Hand down a piece of jewelry that has been in the family for a couple of generations.
- Passport 2 Purity: As she enters her teen years, take her away for a special weekend with Mom. Using Family Life's "Passport 2 Purity" resource, discuss her changing body and the new season of life she is entering. Take some time to go shopping and have some special girl time to mark this transition in her life. (Passport 2 Purity can also be used with your teen son.)Jill Savage and Pam Farrel, Got Teens? (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 2005).)
If we give the gift of words wrapped in creative tradition, one day those words will boomerang back to bless us, as author Linda Newton discovered:
I have two beautiful daughters. They arrived bringing flights of fancy with fairy princesses, dollhouses and our personal favorite — tea parties. I bought my oldest daughter, Sarah, her first tea set on her third birthday. That same day we filled the tiny plastic teapot with sweet tea, made bologna sandwiches with the crust cut off and served banana chips with a dollop of peanut butter — Sarah's favorite. Then we sipped tea and chatted about the clouds, the flower garden and our new puppy. Life couldn't get any better.
When Sarah was five, she was joined by a baby sister. Ashley was barely old enough to hold a teacup when she was invited to join us. And the three of us drank our tea with delight even though Ashley's table manners at the time left much to be desired.
As the years progressed so did the tea parties. Bologna sandwiches gave way to cream cheese and cucumber. Sweet tea was replaced by loose-leaf tea we found at various specialty shops. The conversations evolved as well. We now discussed hairstyles and friendships — important things in the life of teenagers.
The girls grew and Sarah married and moved out. About that time a teahouse opened in our little town. No more plastic dishes or paper plates for us; we had the real deal. At least once a month I'd pick Ashley up after high school and we'd head over for tea and scones in the early afternoon. Many times we were the only ones in the place.
Time stood still as Ashley and I talked about her future plans, kids in her class making heart-breaking choices, or whether Sarah's husband was going to be okay while he was stationed in Iraq. Those were deep and precious moments to be treasured.
Ashley, too, grew up and headed off to college. One year during spring break, I was blessed to have both girls home at the same time, Sarah from graduate school and Ashley from her second year at the university. This was a rare moment for us so I headed off to the grocery store to purchase our Easter feast.
When I returned the girls motioned for me to follow them out to the deck. There was the patio table set with my fine china, complete with linen tablecloth and napkins. The table was laden with cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches and completed with banana chips frosted with peanut butter. The girls poured our Blue Lady tea and we laughed and talked until the sun set. I felt so honored that of all the places my beautiful girls could be on that spring break, they chose to be with me. Apparently I wasn't the only one who valued those treasured moments over tea.Linda Newton, I Want Something Better than Jewels (Anderson, IN:Warner Press, 2009). Used by permission. (www.lindanewtonspeaks.com)
It will take a little effort, a little time, a little energy, but you can create unique and personalized moments where the gift of words can be given that will breathe life, hope, healing and love into your daughter's future. Words are the gift every person can afford to give — and the gift a young woman most needs to receive.