Thursday, October 4, 2012

One Creative Way to Connect with Your Preteen or Teen Daughter

Many of you know, I have 5 kids. Ages 6, 8, 11, 13, and 15. I am now in the whirlwind of the preteen and teen years. 

The preteen and teen years. . .the years they are struggling for independence. . .the years their hormones and their emotions are exaggerated. . .the years they spend a lot of time in their bedroom with the door closed. . .the years where most of their free time is spent with friends instead of family. . .the years where they spend half the day sleeping. . .

The years I truly believe they need my attention more than when they were young. The years I try to intentionally connect with my kids about their dreams, hopes, fears, and help them process the world around them. 

But what I often find myself talking with my preteen and teens about is school work, chores, where they are going, when they will be back. It is a little harder to be involved and connect on a deeper level so I have to get creative.

Here is one creative way I have found to connect with my preteen and teen daughter:

I enter their world. I enter their world of Facebook and Instagram. And I suggest. . . 


What teen does not want cool pictures of herself to put on her Facebook page?  I know, we hate getting our picture taken, but these teenagers, have you noticed how many pictures of themselves they take? So I enter their world and help them get even cooler pictures.

My girls and I brainstorm outfits and hairdos and accessories and "scenes". The preteens especially love the fashion talk. One afternoon, my girls and I went to Goodwills looking for Cinderella dresses. We were headed to the beach for the weekend and we had envisioned  a "Trash the Dress" photo shoot.  Look what we found for $6.49

The time planning the photo shoots is just as fun as the actual photo shoot. At times, I feel guilty driving all over town looking for inexpensive Cinderella dresses or some other prop when there are house projects to get done and errands to run, but the time in the car with my daughters - just us laughing and talking about fun stuff is pretty special.

And then the day of the actual photo shoot, that time driving around looking for the perfect backdrop is special too. Uninterupted time. Unrushed time.

We have done "farm" shots.

We have done "grunge/urban" shots. We were so excited when we found this colorful grafitti wall. It is always an adventure hunting out the perfect backdrops. You never know what you will find. Memories are made.

We always do a "High School Musical" jump and see if mom can actually capture it.  These jumps always seem to relax the girls and you get a more natural smile from them afterwards.

Anna and I were excited that the jump and the shadow were captured in this photo:

Because friends are a top priority in a teen's life, I often invite my daughter's friends along for a photo shoot too.

I promise they do not think this is weird; they think it is cool. And you get a whole afternoon driving around in the car with your daughter and her friends. The girls laugh and giggle and tell stories.

They change their outfits 10 times right there in the car. You stop and get milkshakes. They ask you how they look and you get to affirm how beautiful they are. They ask, "Are you sure I do not look fat?" And you again get an opportuntiy to speak truth and encouragement to not only your daughter, but a handful of other girls. Every girl wants to be told they are pretty.

You get to be right there in the midst of your teen's friends. How often does mom get invited to join in on her teen's activities for the day? When you are the photographer, you do! Anna and her friends still laugh about the time I was sure we were going to get run over by a train when we were taking this picture. The whistle was blowing; the train was coming!

I am not a professional photographer. I did not even know how to shoot on manual until about a month ago. (And I am still scared to do so). All of these photos are shot on automatic. Some are even blurry. I still don't totally get lighting. Your preteen or teen does not care. I mean really, they are going on Facebook.  You're just using the opportunity to connect with your daughter. Do not let the fact that you are not the best photographer or that you do not own a DSLR camera stop you.
that quote came from here
And then when you have 200 images on your camera, you get to go home and sit side by side on the couch with a bowl of popcorn and upload pics and take a vote on your favorite shots.

And your teen daughter can teach you how to edit pics in PicMonkey and how to add cool effects and borders and even how to add words to the photos. Ah, more sweet time with your preteen and teen. And then you can watch as she posts the pics on Facebook and a couple hours later, she tells you how many "likes" it got. 

Totally worth it.

So have I convinced you to do a photo shoot?

I am always brainstoming creative ways to connect with my tweens and teens. Tell me, what have you done? What have been some of your best ideas?

I am sharing this post at some of my favorite linky parties: Raising Homemakers, Imparting Grace, At the Picket Fence, A Little Knick Knack, Tidy Mom, Serenity Now, Tatertots and Jello, Six Sisters' Stuff, Sew Many Ways, Titus 2 TuesdayTitus 2sdays, Oh So She Says, Thankful Homemaker. and A 2 Z Home Stories


  1. You have totally convinced me to do a photo shoot! Love this idea! And, love your gorgeous girls!

  2. Fantastic, absolutely love the idea

  3. Super moms like you both terrify me and inspire me. I am so nervous about parenting my girl and having the wisdom and creativity it takes to create a meaningful and close relationship with her. And you do it so well. You rock, Su!

  4. I am a local blog reader and several of my friends have taken your classes. I rarely comment, but this was awesome. I have two daughters, age 11 and 9 and I'd love love love to use this idea with them. Thanks for putting all your intentional family ideas out there for others to read!

  5. Su you are awesome! You are such a wonderful inspiration to me so often. I do not have a teen yet, but we are getting there and this is a WONDERFUL idea. Thank you for sharing your gifts with all of us - have a wonderful day! -Mallory

  6. BEAUTIFUL Pictures!
    Great way to be with your girls!


  7. you are awesome and love the way you take time with your family. This makes me want a girl. not sure my boys would want to go on a photo shoot. :-)

    1. Boys are totally different creatures, eh? I can hardly get mine to smile for just a quick snapshot. We gotta be creative in a totally different way to conect with them, eh? My oldest and I like to hit yard sales together.

  8. I love your intentional parenting and I love this creative idea.

    My girls are grown now ... but I always took them out for coffee. They always said yes.


  9. I LOVE this post and the idea! What a great way to get quality time with your daughters.

  10. Great ideas Su. My 2 boys are now grown men with their first babies themselves but we always had special times. I learnt to love motorbikes and car racing and took them swimming at the river. And it was an unbreakable ritual that I read a book to them (or chapter of a book in later years) every night right up into their teens. Today with families of their own they still come home whenever possible and speak to or text us nearly every day.What you sew so shall you reap. Sharyn

  11. This is a beautiful way to share time with your girls! The photos are great! THanks for sharing! I found your link on FaFF at Sew Many Ways! Come over and visit and follow if you like. Have a blessed day.

  12. AMAZING!!! I can't wait to share this on FB! I think also you would love The Pioneer Woman if you haven't heard of her already. She's got a section on photography with specific posts on lighting and aperture in language we can understand and she's funny. Here's the link:

  13. This is such an amazing idea! What a great idea for you to sepend meaningful, quality time with your daughters! Brilliant! oved reading this post! Thanks! Have a great weekend!

  14. Such a great idea, really...what girl doesn't want some fun pictures? I love the shots! I would love to have you stop by 'Or so she says...' and share your great ideas at the link party, going on right now. Hope to see you there!

  15. Your girls are so fortunate to have a Mom like you! I will use your ideas with my granddaughter when she gets a little older. Thanks for your wonderful ideas! Kathy

  16. Your daughters are soooo cute and we love your whole photoshoot idea! What a great idea. Your girls are lucky to have such a wonder mother!! We would love to have you join us at our Strut Your Stuff Saturday at -The Six Sisters

  17. a tip I just learned-- for jump shots, have something set on the ground so you can see how high they are jumping, it grounds the picture and gives perspective

  18. love this post and am inspired to try this with me teen so glad I found you will now be following you ;)

  19. Thanks for sharing your great idea with the 'Or so she says...' readers! The newest link party just kicked off today (every Sat. - Tues), I would love to have you back!

  20. This is the best.idea.ever!

  21. I love this idea! Your girls are sooo lucky that you are doing this with them and they will always remember those days!!! I have a teenage son and he is so not into pics but I keep trying!
    Thanks for sharing your fabulous idea!!!

  22. My daughter is only three but already loves to do photo shoots. I will definitely continue this as she gets older.


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