The list of things our children need from us can sometimes seem never-ending. But really if you dig deep down there are a few things that are absolutely vital, especially when it comes to raising girls. Here are 7 things a daughter truly needs from her mother.
I was away last week to spend a few days with my girlfriends for a much needed time of rest. I got home late and stepped into my girls’ room just to get a good look at them. As I stood there, my heart almost burst at my longing to give those sweet faces anything and everything they could ever need.
I began a long list in my mind of ways to make their lives better, things I still needed to do, get, or be for them. I walked away a bit overwhelmed at my love for my girls and all that I wanted for them.
Being a woman in our culture is not easy. There is so much pressure to look a certain way, perform a certain way, raise a family, have a career, have a perfect home, and the list goes on. I am grateful that I had a mother who was so great at demonstrating with her life what things are truly important and I hope and pray to pass much of this on to my daughters.
As much as we would love to give our daughters everything under the sun, I think what they truly need can be boiled down to a few vital things.
7 Things a Daughter Needs from Her Mother in Today’s Culture
Your Daughter Needs Your Honesty
Our children, first and foremost, need to know truth. The truth about who God is and how their identity can be ultimately found in Him, and not what the world or culture says is true about them. This truth will ground them and give them the stability to deal with everything else that life will throw at them.
As adults, we know that a better understanding of our identity in Christ is what will carry us through the lies the world tells us about ourselves — what makes us beautiful, smart, or desirable; what things truly have value and what things are a waste of our time.
Be honest with your kids. Tell them the truth when they ask hard questions.
We were running errands a couple of weeks ago, and my five-year-old shouts from the back, “How exactly does a baby get out of your body!” My first instinct was to put her off; I wanted to answer the question at the right time with a 5 point presentation prepared, but instead, I simply told her the truth.
It has led to many other questions and so many sweet moments with my girl as she feels free to ask me anything that is on her mind because we have built that trust in our relationship. She trusts me to answer her as simply and as honestly as I can.
She Needs Your Unconditional Acceptance
One of the most basic human needs is to be accepted. I want our girls to know that we accept them, not only because they accomplished something, performed well or did something that made us happy. They need to know that we accept them even when they are completely blowing it or making our lives inconvenient. We are to love them as Christ loves us, which is not conditional to performance.
Tim Keller describes God’s care for our hearts like this, “God sees us as we are, loves us as we are, and accepts us as we are. But by His grace, He does not leave us as we are.” By His grace, we can love our children this same way.
You don’t want your daughters to think that your approval of them is based on how they perform, whether in school, in sports, even in behavior. Rejoice with them in these accomplishments, but make sure your children feel confident in your love with or without doing something special. Make sure you are noticing great things in your children’s character as often as you notice the way they perform. This is important! Make sure they know that to you, an act of kindness is more important than a soccer goal. Being selfless is more important than getting an A on an exam.
Above all, make sure you lavish them with love when they misbehave and need correction or missed the note at the recital. Love our daughters because they are who they are. Nothing else. They have value because they were made by God.
Your daughter needs to know that she is beautiful; that the way God knit her together is just perfect no matter how close or far it is from our current cultural standard of beauty. I have two beautiful biracial daughters, 9 and 5, and I have already heard them, once in a while, wishing they had long straight hair. It's my job to let them know that their wild curls are amazing! Our daughters receive a thousand messages a day from magazines or commercials or peers that there is one best way to look, one body type that is perfect. We need to be combating this ferociously every chance we get.
My two daughters are already built very differently, and I often pray that they will both be able to rejoice in the way that God created their bodies and not waste any time at all wishing they were different than they are. I have struggled with this often in my life, and by God’s grace, I will teach my daughters something different. We talk about exercise and eating healthy in the context of taking care of the bodies God gave us, not to stay thin or adjust how we look.
However, you speak about body image in your home; make sure it is positive. Make sure you are affirming the goodness of how God created your daughters and yourself! Let the voice of their mama be consistently this truth: They are fearfully and wonderfully made by the creator of the whole universe!
She Needs to Challenged
So many of our daughter's problems seem quick and easy for us as Mommas to just jump in and fix. But if we do that time after time, our children will not learn how to solve problems independently. Let your kids work through challenges. Take the time to let them zip the zipper or tie the shoe even if you can do it so much faster. They need this to begin to build the muscles of perseverance and creative thinking. They need to fail and keep trying.
You don’t want to send children out into the world who can’t solve problems or crumble at the first sign of adversity. You want to send your kids into the world with the ability to work hard for themselves and their families and their communities.
Let your daughters learn how to solve problems. When they are having trouble with friends at school. Ask a lot of questions, see if you can help them figure out good solutions to relational problems without just giving them the answer. At each stage in our children’s development, we want to let them stretch their muscles, so to speak. We want to let them try things that are a little beyond their reach so they can grow.
Give them challenges and opportunities to rise to the occasion. Give them responsibility even when it seems hard. This will give you so many sweet opportunities to celebrate with them when they accomplish something new or do the hard thing they were dreading. Challenge is one of the most precious gifts a mother can give to her daughter.
My kids often surprise me at what they can do that I thought they could not. My husband recently ruptured his Achilles, and my kiddos were looking for ways to help around the house since daddy was out of commission. I chose to let the girls take on making breakfast in the mornings. I was initially worried about the mess and allowing them to use the stove, and it would have been more comfortable some days to do it myself, but now they can scramble eggs with the best of them, and they are so proud!
Your Daughter Needs Your Time
I know, momma, you are so busy, but it will be worth it every time. My 9-year-old and I went roller skating a few weeks ago, and I couldn’t believe how much fun it was to see her enjoying something I always enjoyed as a little girl. I remember skating around and around that rink as a little girl and feeling almost like I was flying. I couldn’t stop watching her face and seeing that same joy. It was well worth the couple of hours we took out of the day.
It doesn’t always have to be a planned outing. Most of the time, it’s in everyday activities we find the most opportunity to spend time with our daughters. Every time you put aside laundry to intentionally listen to her heart or invite her in to cook dinner even though it is faster to do it yourself, it gives her the gift of your time. These little moments teach her that she is valuable, and that is a lesson worth repeating over and over again.
She Needs to See Humility
Our kids need to see the rhythm of humility in our lives. We, as parents, are not perfect. This takes the pressure off of us and off of them. In our family, we talk often about being quick to take responsibility when we are wrong and being quick to restore relationships, but this cannot be only lip service. Daughters have got to watch moms fail and take responsibility and apologize quickly; to them, to their spouse, to their friends. They need to know that it is ok not to be right all the time. Your daughter needs to hear you say you don’t know and be given a chance to see you work through problems and challenges.
Your daughter needs to know that she is her own person. I must be careful that I am not looking to create a mini-me. My daughters need to know I support them in being fully themselves! My nine year old loves crafts. I mean, she loves crafts. I don’t have a crafty bone in my body, but now we do crafts! Crafts are everywhere! I want her to know she does not have to like the same things I like, she doesn't have to be just like me. She is her own unique, precious individual, and I support that one hundred percent.
She Needs Your Touch
Our kids need to be touched! Our little ones, of course, but our big kids need to be touched too. They need the regular reassurance of our presence in a very tangible way. I love the snuggles and kisses of early childhood, but I think equally important are the hugs and shoulder bumps of our teenagers. My nine year old loves nothing better than to lay her head in my lap and have me rub her hair. My five-year-old claims she hates kisses right now but is the first one to climb all over me as soon as I sit on the floor. Read to your girls, crawl in their bed at night or bump hips while you do the dishes. They might show love or need love in very different ways, but they all definitely need it!
Your Daughter Needs Prayer
I don't think that I can stress this enough. Our kids are our greatest treasures. It's so easy to believe that we can be all they need, but we just can’t. They need more than we can give them. Pray for their minds and their health and their emotions. Pray for rich relationships and future spouses. Be on your knees for them. Pray with your daughter. Teach her early to take her needs to God.
My mother gave me a sweet reminder this week of how important it is to battle in prayer for our daughters and with our daughters. Take him all the discipline issues and the 3000 decisions it feels like you have to make each day in how to parent. The Lord knows what your daughter needs better than you ever could. Ask Him for the best and wisest ways you can participate in your daughter’s story.
Trust Him with your daughter's whole story, trust Him with your whole story, and then do your best to give your daughter these 7 things! If you have sons too, head here and read What a Boy Needs from His Mom.
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