Growing up in the 70′s, it was popular to think boys and girls should be raised the same way. I remember hearing people talk about how the only reason boys and girls are different is because we force it upon them.
God designed us to be different. Boys will take dolls apart and make weapons. Girls will make G.I. Joe marry Barbie.
We give God’s best to our children when we honor His design for the differences between boys and girls. In my post about Mothers and Sons I shared about giving a boy space to become a man. In the same way, I am teaching my girls to become women.
While I do teach my four daughters the womanly arts (cooking, sewing, etc.), this is only the tip of the iceberg of womanhood. To be a godly woman requires understanding submission, being meek, courageous and feminine. Your daughter’s heart is like a garden, you will grow what you plant. But before you can plant anything in your daughter’s heart you must know and understand her heart.
My number one tip for mothering daughters: Listen.
When they talk, listen. If they are quiet, listen harder. If they are chatty, try to hear the depth of their words. Some of my girls are more likely to share their thoughts with me than their sisters. If they do not tend to open up, I just try throughout the day to step close to them and ask how they are doing. It’s a simple, small thing that sends the message, “I care about you.” While they are talking I am constantly praying, “Lord, let me hear what is important.”
Number two: Be open.
By this I mean, don’t present yourself as perfect. When they do talk I share something from my life that shows them I can relate. I try not to talk too much, but I also want to show vulnerability or sensitivity. “Oh yes, I remember being your age and really having a hard time with that. I sure do understand.” The goal is to show them that you won’t reject them for their feelings or thoughts. You want your girls to come to you with their deepest troubles. They must know you will be open to listen and understand.
Number three: Resist the temptation to cross the line from mother to friend.
You are not your daughter’s friend. You are not supposed to be her friend. The mother/daughter relationship is a sacred, beautiful thing. God gave you one person that will fill this role in your life; do not disrespect this amazing gift by treating it as if it were nothing more than friends. As a mother this is your ministry. You can tell your daughter some of your problems, but if you do you should try to always show faith and trust in the Lord through your troubles. Let even your problems minister to her. And for goodness sake…no matter what you do…never complain about your husband to your daughters!
Number four: Be aware that your relationship with your husband is teaching your daughter how to be a wife.
If you disrespect your husband or undermine him, it is likely that your daughter will struggle with the same issues. Even if you are a single mother, you can be generous and selfless in the way you treat and discuss your children’s father. I know he’s not perfect, but that relationship between father and daughter is vital for a girl and needs to be cherished.
Number five: Hold fast to truth.
No matter what the magazines and movies tell us, women are not the same as men. We are not lower….we are different. God gives clear direction in His Word about who women are and we should embrace that. My girls understand that they can have dreams and visions of their own based on the talent God gave them. But they also need to be prepared to merge those dreams with a husband’s dreams someday and learn ways to adapt. Spend time helping your girls learn to serve others and sacrifice their needs without losing hope. It’s an art that we must pass along….being fully yourself while serving a husband and children.
My goal with my girls is to teach them to delight in being a woman. We learn to understand what the Bible says is our role and not what the world tells us. I stress to my girls that they will be different than the people around them and teach them to be confident by being confident myself. We discuss beauty as being more about countenance than looks and I work hard to set aside my own issues and reflect that. We find ways to enjoy housework and cooking. We talk a lot about their future and what they can do now to prepare for that. I am also keenly aware that they will each take a different path and we spend individual time talking about their own goals.
The mother/daughter relationship is so deeply complicated, but it comes down to understanding God’s role for women. Listen to her dreams and build trust by helping her find her path. Show her you understand her deep feelings and help guide her to control them. Honor the Lord by taking your place as mother and wife. And most of all, pray for her. The garden of her heart depends upon it.
When God speaks in Titus 2 of the older women teaching the younger women, that’s YOU! You are the older woman in your daughter’s lives.
Titus 2:3-5 “Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.”
I will share more practical ideas in part 2, “Ten Tips for Mothering Teenage Daughters”.