by Trish Donohue
Moms, remember your plans for your daughter when you brought that little pink bundle home from the hospital? Here was the girl God had given you to invest in, mentor, love, and train up in the ways of the Lord. You imagined sweet moments, tea parties, bedtime prayers and playground dates; and chances are you’ve enjoyed some of those. But what did you imagine after the little girl years ended and the big kid years began?
Some of us moms find that we wake up one morning and look around in bewilderment. Why are our little girls not as responsive to us as they used to be? Why are they rooting around in our closets? Why do the girls seem to value their friends’ thoughts more than ours? Why is meaningful time together so hard to find? It seems that we’ve blinked and our daughters are different, but the truth is that we’re often in a different place too. We’re busier, we’re doing the mom taxi thing, and we’re balancing plates like a circus performer. When we do have moments of down time, the couch calls our name.
Building deep, meaningful relationships with our daughters as they grow takes more than a puff of inspiration. It requires a conviction that this is a profound task God has called us to, and He will give us grace for the assignment. It requires purposeful investment and loving initiative, even when the investment and initiative don’t feel terribly natural or fruitful.
Deuteronomy 11:19 instructs parents to “teach them [God’s words] to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” Clearly, this is not a “once in a while” kind of assignment, it’s an ongoing and holy responsibility. But surely our daughters are worth the effort. As moms, we get to pursue our daughters with the steadfast love that our Heavenly Father has shown to us.
Here are three of the many ways fostering a close relationship with your daughter can make a lasting impact on her life.
1. It will help her figure out who she is (and Whose she is).
We all know that girls are barraged by messages from the media about how they should look and act and think, but do you know how your daughter struggles? Do you know how she feels about herself, or what she wishes she could be? Do you know where she looks for acceptance?
Does she know that you struggled with similar issues when you were her age, looking to the feeble gods of beauty and popularity to fulfill you? Does she know what you learned in the process? Most important, does she know there is a true God whose love and acceptance means more than all the social media “likes” in the universe? Tell her. Tell her again that you love and accept her and she’s exactly who God wanted her to be. Girls desperately need moms who aren’t afraid to press in during the awkward years, telling them the truth again and again.
When we belong to Christ, our identity is in Him, and we no longer need to please the gods of this world. We are free to be the very selves God created us to be. A mom who comes alongside and whispers this truth through word and example is a means of great grace to her daughter.
“For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.” Romans 14:7-8
2. It will increase her courage and confidence.
Life is scary, especially when you might wake up with a giant pimple on your forehead on any given morning. Growing up is not for the faint of heart! Our daughters face a world they feel is evaluating them every minute. Are they smart enough, nice enough, pretty enough, popular enough, funny enough, cool enough, edgy enough, talented enough? In an atmosphere of such insecurity, it’s difficult to take risks and tackle tasks, yet that is exactly what is required for maturity and progress.
Once again, Mom, you are an invaluable asset. Your faithful love that supports, encourages, accepts, and pursues, is a steady foundation in an unsteady world. The idea of trying something (and maybe failing) is a lot less terrifying when our daughters know they aren’t measured solely by their performance. A mother’s open arms of acceptance take the teeth out of failure. It’s safe to try things when we know our whole life doesn’t depend on the outcome.
Build courage and confidence in your daughter, not by telling her she’s amazing and will never fail, but by showing her what acceptance looks like, both in your home and in the arms of her Heavenly Father. “Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)
3. It will encourage healthy relationships with boys.
Shop any adolescent girls’ store and you’ll be struck with the sexy outfits made to fit the youngest of girls. The sexualization of American girls is a topic frequently written and talked about, but why has this trend spread so easily? One of the reasons is that girls yearn to be noticed, loved, admired, and assigned significance. If that’s most easily found in wearing provocative clothing and sparking relationships with guys, then so be it. It’s certainly marketed as an effective strategy, and our girls know a good thing when they see it.
Moms, we know better. We know where those roads lead. When we are silent on these topics, believing the lie that our opinion is irrelevant, the culture around them will not be silent. It never stops its empty promise-making.
For every lie our culture trumpets, scripture responds with truth. As moms, we get to exemplify and speak these truths to our girls—truths that say romantic intimacy is beautiful and worth waiting for in the context of marriage, true fulfillment comes from being a loved child of God and not from being admired by others, and girls and guys are to treat each other with kindness and respect and not as sexual objects.
Yes, our world calls loudly, but it doesn’t hold the privileged position we mothers do, with such access to the hearts of our daughters. Let’s not let the world quiet us, but rather embolden us to proclaim the freeing truths of the gospel.
“Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” (1 Timothy 4:12)
It gets tiring, moms, I know. It was easier when our little girls were twirling in tutus and tackling us with hugs and giggles. But they need us now more than ever, and you—yes you!—are God’s perfect pick for your daughter. She’s also God’s perfect choice for you. There is no one better to come alongside your daughter in this season than you. Psalm 78:4 proclaims, “We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might, and the wonders that he has done.”
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Trish Donohue is a wife and mom who writes from her kitchen table in West Chester, PA. Donohue currently leads the women’s ministry at Covenant Fellowship Church in Glen Mills, PA, where her husband, Jim, serves as pastor. A desire to disciple her two daughters paired with a love for writing motivated the writing of her first book, Between Us Girls.Visit Trish’s blog at www.reminding-myself.com.