When my kids were younger, one of our favorite family movies was the Disney remake of “The Parent Trap.” Lindsay Lohan, at age 11, played two separate roles when a British twin and an American twin meet for the first time at summer camp and exchange lives to meet the parent the other has never met. The plan was to reunite the parents so these sisters could become a family again.
Like the movie, Lohan has had family issues and wrote about one of them in her 2005 song called “Father to Daughter.” The subtitle of this song is “Confessions of a broken heart.” In this song, Lohan writes of all the things she has missed since her father has left her family (for a jail sentence); the chorus is a repetitive cry, “Why’d you have to go?”
Children surely misses their parent when he or she is not in the home. But many parents are home and unavailable. Our children are missing us even though we share the same address. My own inaccessibility even though I am present is mainly because I am home but in my own world. We must invite our children to be a part of what is going on in our lives and get involved in what is going on in theirs; otherwise we miss a lot of precious time and influence with them.
I recently sat down with my 14-year-old daughter, ReNay, to interview her. Here is our attempt not to miss each other. Here are her responses to the things I could have missed had we not had this interlude:
1. What things do I do that annoy you?
ReNay thinks I am high maintenance at restaurants. She hates that I pick at my fingernails and thinks I often find fault with her ideas; I also make something simple very complex.
2. What do I do to make you smile or that is funny?
ReNay thinks my dancing is very funny (she made sure to tell me this is not an insult, just hilarious). My being outgoing makes her smile.
3. What are some of my characteristics that you admire?
ReNay loves it when I find out a special thing someone in the family likes and surprises him or her with it. (She said cooking a meal just because it is someone’s favorite is one thing she really admires.)
4. What qualities of mine would you desire to emulate?
ReNay loves that I share God with everyone.
5. When you are a mom, what things that I do now will you absolutely avoid?
ReNay had no answer for this. I even gave her some ideas based on how hard she rolls her eyes, but she still had no answer. (This really surprises me because once, she called me weird in a very irritated way. I jumped up and down and thanked her because “I am an alien and stranger and I should be weird.” … She rolled her eyes.)
6. If you and I could go away, just the two of us, where would go and why?
ReNay chose to go back to Missouri, to reminisce and visit all our old friends. (I told her this was too easy. We could have been, hypothetically, in Europe.)
7. If I were not your mother, would I be your friend? What friend qualities would attract me to you?
After much thought (too much for my liking), ReNay said we would be friends if we were the same age. She loves my outgoingness and my sharing Christ.
8. What am I missing about you? What can I do to help you succeed in high school?
ReNay thinks I don’t really know how big her passions are to her. I can help her succeed by letting her try new things (I have a tendency to make her complete what she’s started).
“The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.”
Proverbs 29:15 (ESV)
Postscript by ReNay:
I realized that when I grow up, if I say my relationship with my mom wasn’t the best, then it is my fault. I realized that she honestly loves me. Well, that is something I knew, but I know for sure now. I realized the only reason we might argue is because we are so much alike. And actually, I think I would take that as a compliment. I guess it’s kind of sad that I am just realizing this — well, I’ve always known that she loves me, but to know that she loves me in a way that I obviously don’t understand.
Also, please pray for Lindsay Lohan.