what your daughter may want you to know
Several months ago, I asked my favorite daughter to begin thinking and praying about possibly guest blogging for me. I asked her to think about what she felt like a 14 year old would want her mom to know. She and I work hard on our relationship. We don’t get it right all the time, and the times we do, we recognize it’s God’s grace working in and through us. She is a typical 14 year old–she takes selfies, she rolls her eyes when I ask, “what exactly do we turn down for?,” and she runs out of the room saying “grooooss” if she sees me and the mister lovin’ on each other.
But, she has exceeded all my hopes for a daughter.
I didn’t find out the gender when I was pregnant with her. Stefan has an old-fashioned approach when it comes to that…”it’s the last great surprise!” Whatever. I was young, dumb, and tired from convincing him to marry me. Anyway, she was born. “It’s a girl!” And, I cried…because I knew God would give me all boys. I didn’t know what to do with a girl because everyone warned me that mother/daughter relationships could be tricky.
We are 14 1/2 years into our relationship. And, our relationship can be tricky. She is figuring out who she is and I’m figuring out how to parent through the emotions, the questions, the attitude, and the joy of who she is becoming. She is exactly like me and exactly opposite of me. She has seen my best and my worst. I’ve seen her best and her worst. And, I wouldn’t change a day of our relationship because she has challenged me, taught me, loved me, and grown in grace towards me. She and I are FAR from perfect. She’ll tell you that too. But, she is perfectly designed to be my daughter and I am perfectly designed to be her mom (and that’s true for you and your girl!). I am forever grateful to our Great God for knowing that a daughter was best for me, even though I was scared of her (at first).
She and I spent some of the weekend talking about her blog post. I told her that I wanted her to simply, “Write from your heart. Write from your experience. What would you want me to know? What would your friends want their moms to know?”
I’m not here to offer advice, but to give a perspective from a middle school (almost high school) girl. This is my opinion.
1. Be my safe place:
When I open up to you and share a sneak peek into my world, I trust that what I tell you won’t be shared with anyone. I want a place of accountability. Not necessarily a place of pressure, but I need a place to grow and prepare for the real world. The culture is rough. The expectations the world has of us girls is completely unfair and unrealistic. To know that we are valued, loved, and heard is music to our ears. Sometimes we need more than that, it may take the hard conversation of “it is not that important what the world thinks of us.” Remind me, “you will be hated for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” Matthew 10:22
2. Be my partner:
Yeah, yeah, yeah…it’s your job to be the parents. I think there needs to be a good balance between being the authority and being the friend. I struggle with this…walking above people instead of with people. It’s a pride problem. But, one of my favorite things about my mom is that she walks in my shoes. She swoops down to my level when engaged in conversation with me. She doesn’t always pull the Bible verse out right away. She gathers information and listens. Then, she shares what the Jesus thing to do is. Have a balance between my emotion and reality verses Truth and perspective.
3. Have a goal for me:
Communication is key in all relationships. I recently was telling my mom how quickly the next four years is going to pass. How fast I’ll be in college…which means I’ll be in the real world (My mom LOVED that…hello? did you read her last post?). It seems like yesterday I was collecting rolly pollie bugs (I have no idea how to spell that) and watching Hannah Montana. Like I mentioned before, my home is my safe place. Who wants to leave their comfort zone? That’s scary. But, what’s even scarier is going out in to the real world unprepared. The years at home sharpen me for war, refresh me, and aim me to the ultimate goal. What’s your goal for me? How are you preparing me for the real world? What do you want me to be like when I leave home?
4. Invest in me:
No one likes when someone reads your text message and doesn’t respond. Can I get a “Retweet” or an “Amen!” When you invest time, engage in conversation with me, or show up to my events, I feel loved. A girl desires to feel loved. At this age, we often look for it through boys, other girls’ approval, or how many instragram “likes” we get. (I personally wish I could tell girls my age that in the long run, a compliment or like will make you feel good for maybe 2 minutes, but God’s unconditional love for us will make us feel good forever. Maybe today your daughter needs to hear that). Tell me my worth is not in boys or other peoples’ approval. Tell me about God’s unconditional love for me. Show me God’s unconditional love for me. I need to feel loved.
5. Be the person you want me to be:
So cliche. I know. But, if you don’t want me to dress inappropriately, set a modest example. If you don’t want me to find my worth in others’ opinions, then let it roll off your back. Don’t dwell. Be secure and confident. We pick up traits and habits from our parents. If you don’t want me to gossip about people, don’t gossip about other moms. Ultimately, we look up to you, mom. We are watching you and deciding what part of you we want to keep and what part of you we don’t want to be.
Be encouraged, Mamas, the stereotypes for teenage girls don’t have to be true.
A note from V:
I post these pictures because we don’t have pictures of the times we argue, we disagree, or the times I embarrass her. Who takes pictures of those events? But, rest assured, we have those moments. It’s difficult to post a blog like this because there’s a possibility that one of you may think we have it all together. The relationship I have with my daughter is beautiful, but it’s God’s work in us that has made it beautiful. We have confessed, cried, and celebrated the bad and the good. We will take credit for the bad, but please know the good is because we recognize our need for a Savior…and He shows up in our mess. Every time.