by Michelle Watson, PhD, LPC
(Now and then we have a guest post by a friend to this blog. Over this last year, we came to know Dr. Michelle Watson. She is doing phenominal work with Dad’s and is excited to share some thoughts with us. Also, see the note below announcing her first book which is being released TODAY! A great READ and should be picked up by eveyone who has a daughter)
Before I dive into clarifying this blog title I figured a little backstory might be helpful. I am now in my fifth decade of life (which is crazy because I don’t feel that old!), the oldest of four girls, and have spent my entire adult life ministering to girls and women in various contexts. All this basically means is that after more clock hours than I can count I have a pretty good idea of what we girls want from the men in our lives, particularly our dads.
I often hear fathers tell me that their daughters are complicated and complex, especially when they hit adolescence. I do get that but want to say something that might shock you: we’re really not all that “un-figure-out-able.” (Insert laughter). I’m hoping to give you a few pointers that literally come from one story in Scripture that will assist you in decoding your precious girl, particularly in those times when things are emotionally intense.
I’m sure you’ve heard of two sisters, Martha and Mary, who were dear friends of Jesus. This means he knew them and they knew him. Up close and personal. For better or worse.
Let’s pick up the story at the point where Martha is overly reactive, super stressed, overwhelmed, and basically freaking out. (Luke 10:38-42). Does any of that ever describe your daughter, especially if she is traveling through “juvenile puberty,” a season that Dr. James Dobson describes as lasting at least five years where high levels of estrogen lead to significantly unstable and reactive moods, thinking patterns, and behaviors?
If you can relate, watch what Jesus (with his male energy) does to enter the fray with his frazzled female friend. 1. He lets her vent to Him while He listens to all of it. Even when she dramatically tells Jesus that he “doesn’t care” (false assumptions always take place during “Category 5” meltdowns), in a self-absorbed way she continues by crying about having to do everything “by myself.” And if that wasn’t enough, she then barks at Jesus and demands that he tell her sister to help her. Excuse me! Doesn’t she know that you don’t talk to the King of the Universe like that?! Now bringing it closer to home: Does any of this sound familiar, especially during those times when your daughter talks to you with that tone or attitude?
- He says her name twice….gently and lovingly.
There’s something calming about hearing your name. It’s grounding for us girls. If you speak your daughter’s name with love in your tone, she will come towards you. You can even try saying something endearing like “honey” or “sweetheart.”
- He sits with her in her emotional reality.
Notice that he doesn’t try and talk her out of what she’s feeling or try to get her to think rationally. No lecture. No criticism. Jesus knows that she couldn’t hear it anyway. He simply stays with her, looks at her, validates her, and puts words to what she’s feeling, calling it “worry” and “upset.” He tenderly names her emotions.
- He highlights all that is on her life plate.
As girls we are wired to multi-task. That’s why we can talk on the phone, paint our nails, watch a show, and do homework…all at the same time! Yet all of a sudden we reach our max and then comes the explosion. Again, this is where we need gentle grace not power positions. Jesus just told Martha that he knew she had “many things” going on, leading to her melt down. How kind of him to notice.
5. He directs her to focus on one thing.
Jesus tells her that “only one thing is needed.” The implication is that it’s about focusing on Him as the one thing rather than all the needs around her. When we girls get overwhelmed with the much, we need gentle, supportive guidance to take it one thing at a time. Breaking it down into bite size pieces is immensely helpful when we’re breaking down.
Summing up: When your daughter is melting down sit alongside her and listen to her vent, move towards her and lovingly say her name. Tell her that you understand that she is “worried and upset.” Let her know you do see that she has a lot on her plate, and assist in helping her to focus on one thing.
I know it’s easier said than done but these five things will make all the difference in the eye of the storm when you are there trying to keep up with her complexity. And after the storm has passed, the main thing your daughter will remember is that you Dad were there with her in it.
Michelle’s first book will be released on September 1, 2014 – TODAY! as a resource to help dads with daughters entitled Dad, Here’s What I Really Need From You: A Guide to Connecting with Your Daughter’s Heart. You can read more about The Abba Project, her ministry to dads, at www.drmichellewatson.com.
If you want to pick up this book, CLICK HERE