I have raised 4 sons and one daughter and I’ll have to admit that raising a daughter for me was more difficult than raising the boys. When we are dealing with our daughters we become faced with a whole new set of issues which may include: her emotions, your emotions, her hormones, your hormones, her fear that she won’t be popular, your fear that she’ll be too popular, What is the culture is telling her about her clothes, her hair, her habits and her sexuality. What does Christianity say about her clothes, her hair her habits and her sexuality? She wants to “go out” with a boy when she’s 14. You intend to keep her locked in her room until she’s 30. She thinks the world is a safe place. You think there’s a serial killer or rapist around every corner. You’re thinking “I don’t want her to suffer through the same mistakes that I made”, and she’s thinking “I need to figure this out myself mom and anyway look at you, despite your past you turned out o.k.” (Oh if she only knew how not O.k. I am sometimes).
I think we should dub the years from preteen to the early 20’s “the years of tears and fears.” Your daughter’s drama, moodiness, pouting and rebellion when added to your own fears can add up to a down-right toxic concoction and put the sanest mother over the edge. You may be thinking:
Am I too harsh?
Am I too lenient?
Are all the other parents really allowing this?
Who is that boy?
Who are that boy’s parents?
Are they Christians?
That friend of hers doesn’t make good choices.
Should she go to that party?
Should I let her drive?
Should she have a curfew?
She’s not going out of the house wearing that! (Or should I say, not wearing that).
She can’t possibly be serious about that make up!
No she can’t get her nose pierced or her hiney tattooed-not while she’s living in this house!
She’s grounded until she cleans her room.
Is she just tired or depressed?
Why does her laundry smell like smoke?
How can anyone possibly have 4000 text messages in one month?
Argh! Calgon take me away!
That beautiful little pink bundle of joy that you brought home from the hospital all sugar and spice and everything nice that you couldn’t wait to watch grow up into your little princess suddenly turns into this a pink haired rebel who is begging for her first tattoo and arguing about hardly resembles sugar and spice or anything nice!
I was able to find an excellent resource on the subject of Moms and Daughters and I gathered much of what I will present today from it.
The title is: Here for You-Creating a Mother-daughter Bond That Lasts a Lifetime by Susie Shellenberger and Kathy Gowler. These women are the creator and editor for Brio magazine which is a Focus on the Family production written for teen girls.
So how are we to navigate the possible stormy seas of raising daughters? Let’s look at some important concepts that will help you stay on the right course.
You are your daughters first teacher and you’re also the most influential one she will ever have. She’ll see the world through your eyes first.
- Your words, actions and attitudes will shape her life forever
- You are teaching her every moment of every day whether you realize it or not.
Because of your influence on your daughter you need to take an honest look at the following:
- Your tone: Are you patient and kind? Or are you snappy and sarcastic?
- Your demeanor: Are you calm and in control? Or are you edgy and easily frustrated?
- Your attitude: Are you encouraging and affirming? Or are you critical and controlling?
Your daughter is watching you and she’s observing your consistency and your integrity. In other words does your walk match your talk?
Are the rules just for the children and the parents exempt? Are you pleasant to your neighbor but talk about her behind her back? She’ll learn to respect others from you.
Do you take time to serve and help others and are you generous with your finances? She’ll learn how to care for others from you.
Does she see you apologize and ask for forgiveness when you’ve behaved badly? She’ll learn about humbleness and grace from you.
Does she see you pray with and for her? Does she see you reading and learning God’s word? She’ll learn the importance of spiritual discipline from you.
Mothering is a sobering responsibility. Stop right now and ask yourself: How am I doing as my daughter’s primary teacher and role model?
Some of you may be feeling overwhelmed right now or thinking that you’ve already missed the mark in some of these areas and it’s too late. But I have good news for you. You’re not in this alone!
First of all God has trusted you to be involved with His creative work. His plans for your daughter are far beyond your comprehension. So we must never forget as mothers to go to our knees for wisdom and strength. We need to trust the one that created our daughters. Ask God for His help as you raise her. He’s waiting for you to invite him into the process!
Second don’t be afraid to get help and guidance from those who’ve already walked this path before you and are raising or have already raised well adjusted children of their own.
Now let’s look at some important guidelines on your role as mom throughout her life:
I. Establish who’s the boss– It’s important to understand that being a responsible mother will not win you a popularity contest with your daughter. If any of you are raising toddlers you know it doesn’t take long for that sweet little child to boldly pronounce, “You’re not the boss of me!” Ahh-the battle begins. It’s important to establish early on that you and her father are the parents and she is the child. This means setting up appropriate discipline and following through with it. You and your husband need to show a united front and be consistent, loving and firm.
A. Proverbs 13: 24 reads: If you refuse to discipline your children, it proves you don’t love them; if you love your children, you will be prompt to discipline them.
B. Proverbs 13: 1- A wise child accepts a parent’s discipline; a young mocker refuses to listen.
C. Ephesians 6: 4b Fathers bring up (your children) with the discipline and instruction approved by the Lord.
When my daughter was about nine years old our pastor had put the following story in our program on Mother’s Day. My daughter was just sure it had been written specifically about me.
The Meanest Mother
I had the meanest mother in the whole world. While other kids ate
candy for breakfast, I had to have cereal, eggs or toast. When others
had cokes and candy for lunch, I had to eat a sandwich. As you can
guess, my supper was different than the other kids’ also.
But at least, I wasn’t alone in my sufferings. My sister and two
brothers had the same mean mother as I did.
My mother insisted upon knowing where we were at all times. You’d
think we were on a chain gang. She had to know who our friends were and
where we were going. She insisted if we said we’d be gone an hour, that
we be gone one hour or less–not one hour and one minute. I am nearly
ashamed to admit it, but she actually spanked us. Not once, but each
time we had a mind of our own and did as we pleased Can you
imagine someone actually spanking just because we disobeyed? Now
you can begin to see how mean she really was.
We had to wear clean clothes and take a bath. The other kids always
wore their clothes for days. We reached the height of insults because
she made our clothes herself, just to save money. Why, oh why, did we
have to have a mother who made us feel different from our friends?
The worst is yet to come. We had to be in bed by nine each night
and up at seven the next morning. We couldn’t sleep till noon like our
friends. So while they slept-my mother actually had the nerve to break
the child-labor law. She made us work. We had to wash dishes, make
beds, and learn to cook and all sorts of cruel things. I believe she laid
awake at night thinking up mean things to do to us.
She always insisted upon us telling the truth, the whole truth and
nothing but the truth, even if it killed us- and it nearly did.
By the time we were teen-agers, she was much wiser, and our life
became even more unbearable. None of this tooting the horn of a car for
us to come running. She embarrassed us to no end by making our dates
and friends come to the door to get us. If I spent the night with a
girlfriend, can you imagine she checked on me to see if I were really
there? I never had the chance to elope to Mexico. That is if I’d had a
boyfriend to elope with. I forgot to mention, while my friends were
dating at the mature age of 12 and 13, my old fashioned mother refused
to let me date until the age of 16. Fifteen, if you
dated only to go to a school function. And that was maybe twice a year.
Through the years, things didn’t improve a bit. We could not lie
in bed; “sick” like our friends did, and miss school. If our friends
had a toe ache, a hang nail or serious ailment, they could stay home
from school. Our marks in school had to be up to par. Our friends’
report cards had beautiful colors on them, black for passing, red for
failing. My mother being as different as she was would settle for
nothing less than ugly black marks.
As the years rolled by, first one and then the other of us was put
to shame. We were graduated from high school. With our mother behind
us, talking and demanding respect, none of us was allowed the
pleasure of being a drop-out.
My mother was a complete failure as a mother. Out of four
children, a couple of us attained some higher education. None of us
have ever been arrested, divorced or beaten his mate. Each of my
brothers served his time in the service of this country. And whom do we
have to blame for the terrible way we turned out? You’re right, our
mean mother. Look at the things we missed. We never got to march in a
protest parade, nor to take part in a riot, burn draft cards, and a
million and one other things that our friends did.
She forced us to grow up into God-fearing, educated, honest adults.
Using this as a background, I am trying to raise my three
children. I stand a little taller and I am filled with pride when my
children call me mean.
Because, you see, I thank God, He gave me the meanest mother in
the whole world.
Written by Bobbie Pingaro (1967)
II. Remember-Parent first, friend later: There may come a day when you are you’re daughters friend, but before you can be her friend you need to be her parent. God gave you the assignment of being her parent. Our goal as parents is to raise children that are ready to be responsible, godly adults. This means they need our wisdom and guidance to teach them the behaviors and skills that will need to enter adulthood. If they are taught properly how to make good choices as they grow up in the safety net of your home, they will be prepared to meet the difficulties life throws at them as they step out into their adult lives. A. Proverbs 4:4-7: “My father told me, ‘Take my words to heart. Follow my instructions and you will live. Learn to be wise and develop good judgment. Don’t forget or turn away from my words. Don’t turn your back on wisdom, for she will protect you. Love her and she will guard you. Getting wisdom is the most important thing you can do! And whatever else you do, get good judgment.'”
III. Mom the Boss- Counselor: Releasing your daughter into the world is a process that you work towards. As she enters her teens your relationship should evolve from Mom the boss into Mom the Boss-Counselor. The power to handle some decisions is gradually handed over to your daughter. This means you step aside to support her decisions rather than dictate them. Does she want to go out for cheerleading or debate club? These are the kind of personal choices that you can become more of a coach to her. She still needs your input and guidance as you help her sort through her options. She needs to gain confidence that she can make some choices on her own. She’ll make mistakes, and a good mom will be there when she does to help her evaluate what went wrong. You are not there to say “I told you so”.
IV. Mom the Counselor-Friend: Hopefully by the time your daughter’s graduating from high school and looking toward her future, you have confidence in her ability to make wise decisions. You’ve given her the experience of making decisions for herself for a few years now in preparation for this day. She’s an adult in the eyes of society. You’ve stepped back and allowed her to pursue her dreams, but you’re not out of the picture entirely.
She knows that you trust her ability to think for herself but she also knows that you’re there for her if she needs some advice. Sometimes she just needs a mom-hug or a few encouraging words over the phone. You can pray with her and remind her that God loves her and remind her that she needs to talk to God herself when she’s feeling insecure or overwhelmed. As you become the counselor-friend your daughter needs you, but is not dependent on you.
V. Mom the friend: By the time your daughter finishes college, is planning her wedding or starting her first career job your role can finally change to Mom the Friend. She’s an adult woman who’s taking on the responsibilities of life for herself. You’ve done your work and now you can reap the benefits of a job well done. You can spend time together and enjoy each others company. You’ll always be her mom, but you’ve graduated from caregiver and disciplinarian to a source of companionship and giver of wisdom. Hopefully your young adult daughter is finally discovering how smart you’ve been all these years. Oh glorious day!
VI. Mom the Grandma: One day you may take on another valuable role and that is becoming the grandmother of her children. That may seem like a million years away right now, but believe me it will be here in the blink of an eye. I’m just stepping into this role as my oldest son’s new wife Katie has a 3 year old. Being a grandma is fun and rewarding. I know that my grandmothers had a great amount of positive influence on me and I hope to be able to be a wise and supporting grandmother. (Wow that sounds old). Now that your daughter has her own children she will begin to realize the sacrifices you made for her and appreciate you even more. This is also a time to use wisdom in where to step in and where to keep you lip zipped. A good rule of thumb is not too offer too much advice unless it’s asked for. Continue to pray for your daughter, her marriage, and your grandchildren and for yourself as you seek God guidance in this very important role.
Maybe today you’re sitting here thinking that you’ve missed the boat. Maybe you’re in the thick of battle with a disrespectful and rebellious teen and what I’ve just said sounds like a fairy tale to you. Perhaps you and your daughter don’t even have a relationship or have nothing in common. She doesn’t even talk to you much less listen. Maybe you have an adult daughter and you’ve always had a strained relationship and you can’t get along to this day. You can’t imagine a time when she will ever be your friend. If that’s the case I want you to know that it’s never too late to make a fresh start. It takes courage, but a healthy relationship is possible. To start to repair a broken relationship remember these key points:
- Don’t give up. This rebellious phase will end. Be the one constant in her life that she knows will never change. If our mothers give up on us, what hope is there?
- Pray for your daughter-Remember she is one of His creations. He thought of her in the first place. Partner with Him on her behalf. Relinquish her to His care, believing He will bring her back to you.
- Pray for yourself-Ask God to restore the relationship between the two of you. Sometimes things happen that are out of our control with our kids-the death of a parent or sibling, a nasty divorce, harmful outside influences, an unexpected move or a family tragedy. Ask the Lord to perfect your heart. Psalm 139: 23-24 reads: “Search me, Oh God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” This leads us to the next point.
- Humbly ask for your daughter’s forgiveness-If you look back and see that you’ve made costly mistakes that damaged your relationship then you need to take ownership of your part. Remember you are the mother and you need to set the example and be big enough to make the first move. God will honor your obedience.
- You are always her mother- You are and will be your daughter’s only mother. She depends on you to fight for her although she may never say so. Restoration may require some huge adjustments in your life. To achieve it, you must be willing to do whatever it takes to make things right. You must keep seeking God’s will for the changes that need to be made. Also don’t be afraid to seek Godly counsel for yourself or for you and your daughter together. Your future relationship depends on it. God created you to be your daughter’s mother. He does not make mistakes. He’s not like the stork that drops the baby off and then flies away and says “oops-I dropped that baby off at the wrong house. Oh well-they’ll figure it out.” He’s always there to guide you through even the most difficult situations.
There’s a scripture verse that has helped me trust God to restore the damage caused to my children from the many poor choices I made when they were young including my divorce. It may sound unusual at first , but listen to what God has to say in Joel 2:25 “I will give you back what you lost to the stripping locusts, the cutting locusts, the swarming locusts and the hopping locusts.” God is talking about a time when all the crops were destroyed by locusts because of the Jewish people had turned away from him.
If you know anything about locusts you know that when they come they completely destroy a crop, leaving nothing behind. When this happen back in Old Testament times and even today it would mean that the land was desolate and nothing would grow there. Usually it meant famine for the people and even death. When God says that he will give me back what I lost to the locusts it means he will restore the years of waste and desolation that I suffered because I was not living my life for him. When I turn back to him he gives me back what I lost during those years. Just like the earth can renew and bring forth a healthy crop again our lives and relationships can be restored just as though nothing had ever happened. So even if you believe that the relationship with your daughter has been damaged beyond repair God promises it is possible to experience a time of great harvest and celebration with your daughter.
I want to end today with a challenge to moms that have daughters (and you can do this for your sons also). I would like you to pray about entering into a covenant relationship with your daughter. But first let’s define what a covenant is. A covenant is more than and promise, commitment, pledge or agreement. It’s even more than a contract. A contract always has an ending date. A covenant never expires. A contract usually involves on part of a person- a specific skill, a certain job to be done, an agreed-upon amount of money. But a covenant involves the totality of a person-his or her total being.
Psalm 105:8-11 reads: “He remembers his covenant forever, the word he commanded for a thousand generation, the covenant he made with Abraham, the oath he swore to Isaac. He confirmed it to Jacob as a decree, to Israel as an everlasting covenant: “to you I will give the land of Canaan as the portion you will inherit”
When God thought up the covenant process he was saying “I will bind myself to you and I’ll ask you to bind yourself to me. In doing that everything I have will be yours.” Why does he do this for us? Because he loves us. Even though we are undeserving he made a covenant with us through his son Jesus Christ. He made a covenant with us forever by sending his son to die for us even though we don’t deserve it.
The greatest gift you can give your daughter is to be a genuine Christian who reflects Christ in your relationship with her. By the Holy Spirit in you, He can energize and equip you to keep a holy covenant with your daughter or with your mom.
This is a mom’s five part covenant to her daughter:
- to be a godly role model
- to be there for her, to be her safety net
- to pray for her every day
- to consistently pray with her
- to help her unfold the unique personality and gifts with which she has been blessed.
To make this covenant with your daughter you will first need tell God how desperately you will need his help in living out your part. Acknowledge that you can’t do it on your own, and you need His supernatural help.
Gals-I promise that if you enter into this kind of agreement with God and your daughter you will be blessed beyond your wildest imagination. God will keep his promise to you as he has to other believers over the centuries.
I once heard Dr. James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family Ministries talk about his Great Grandfather. He was a simple man. But everyday he took his lunch hour as a prayer time. In that time he prayed that God would bless each generations for 5 generations to become pastors. Guess what? Every generation after that so far had become pastors or had a leadership role in ministry. God will keep his promises when you are humbly seeking him and striving to live your life for him.
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