A NightLight: on daughters and the hard road


NightLight posts every Friday with encouragement for and questions from younger women. No matter your age, you are older and wiser than some, and you’ve been equipped to share through your story. Please read the guidelines and consider submitting questions or posts of encouragement or advice to nightlightguide@gmail.com.

This following post is so well-written from KeLi at ThoreauBredBaby, and I myself, age 30, with a daughter on the way, am asking the same exact question. Please email this post to your Mama and your Grandma and your lady friends. We seriously need some advice here.

KeLi says,

A few months ago, my husband threw me a surprise birthday party, to celebrate the big 3-0. We’ll ignore the fact that I was caught totally off guard, wearing “not too tight for a date night—wink wink” pants on my less-than-svelte second trimester physique, and move on to an even greater humiliation. Though the party was a grand ol’ time – with people from different parts of my life all coming together to celebrate little ol’ me – one particular event of the night left me crying the next day … and still makes me cringe a bit even now.

My girls. My best girls – who have known me since bad hair and braces — made a list of my “Top 30 Moments of the Past 30 Years.” They pieced together inside jokes, quirky mishaps and … let’s just say other indiscretions. Indiscretions that would make the film version of my life decidedly not PG. The list itself was an homage to their love for me as the “bad girl” (outspoken, risk-taking) member of the group. It was meant to be harmless, but at the same time was not something you’d want put out there in front of God and everybody. And though many of the memories were cloaked in vague language, the back of my neck still burned when I heard some of these remembrances read aloud in front of the guests — including my mother, mother-in-law, and new friends from church.

Now hit fast forward, because the wound to my pride – the bruise left on that part of me that, in spite of everything I know to be true about God’s grace and my own righteousness, still thinks that if I wore pantyhose to church I might get a better seat in heaven – has faded as I’ve shown those skeletons in the closet the piercing light of the Word.

But then: an ultrasound, and three words.

It’s a girl.

And I’m reeling. Sweating. Thinking about that list and this girl – this new version of the same ol’ recycled sin nature. And I need to know, to hear truth from mothers whose footsteps are up ahead: how do I, sin-stained and thorn-scratched from taking the hard road – the rebel’s path – mother a girl?

When I know what she’s headed for, wearing female skin in the world we live in… When I can actually feel a rebellious spirit –mapped out by my own DNA –growing alongside those tiny fingers and toes… How do I protect her from those dark places — even the ones within herself? How transparent were you with your daughters about your own failings? And how did you handle the times when you couldn’t protect her, the times when you watched her careen headlong into those tried and true, estrogen-infused stumbling blocks that the Enemy has staked along the road to womanhood?

amberhaines
About me

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34 Comments

Amber
Reply April 23, 2010

Also a good question to ask here is how did your mother handle you?

Brooke
Reply April 23, 2010

Hi friend. I don't have girls, but I am one :)

I had a life-changing conversation with my mom when I was a child. We had been spending time in Sunday School talking about saving sex for marriage and in an intimate moment, alone with her in the car, I asked her if she was a virgin when she got married. She froze and told me she wasn't going to answer that question.

Of course I knew the answer.

And it has impacted our relationship ever since. That one question blocked laid the foundation for a relationship that still struggles to be real and deep. I knew then that all topics difficult were not going to be addressed with my mom...so I went other places. Not necessarily a good thing.

So while I don't really have an answer to your questions I can tell you from the receiving end that my mother's unwillingness to share her sinful past with me has created a lifetime of difficulty in meaningful, deep, close relationship.

Hope that helps.

    Amber
    Reply April 23, 2010

    Amen, Brooke! Amen and thank you.

    I totally agree with you. I keep thinking about the relationships we have with our children, and while we're not trying to be bff with our babies, our goal is relationship. I hope to speak truth at age appropriate times. I hesitate to say what I know I'll do because I'm not there yet, but I'm learning that "grownups" don't tell there stories many times because they haven't dealt with them yet, haven't worked through the forgiveness, pain, and truth about them. I think that's usually why they don't tell. It's hard to share a story you can't look in the eyes.

    My hope is that we here can be encouraged to turn around and call our stories what they really are and then use them in ministry as a part of the gospel in our own lives.

Misty
Reply April 23, 2010

I don't know but I am crying as I read this and nodding my head. I am really hoping some more experienced moms will chime in. Pretty please?

Amy Andrews
Reply April 23, 2010

I have one daughter (9) and 3 boys (7, 4, 2). My relationship with her has been one of the toughest in my entire life, not because something is wrong, but because I want so badly to help her avoid the pitfalls I encountered and chose.

To let her be where she's at without letting fear reign and therefore use my authority as her parent to step in and demand she do it "right" is one of the hardest parenting challenges I face. I don't want her to feel like I'm a judge holding a gavel over her, nor do I want to be her best friend. What I really want is to be a patient guide who treats her as an apprentice, training her patiently, with compassion and grace -- just like I see the way Christ led his disciples.

I fail on a regular basis (most recently this morning in fact), so my main strategy is to simply pray: "Oh God, give me the grace to parent like You parent me...and then please follow behind and fill in the gigantic gaps I leave along the way.

Regarding your question about transparency, we have a rule around here that anyone is allowed to ask any question; there is absolutely nothing off-limits. A serious question will get an honest, straightforward, age-appropriate response.

Also, I have found one of the most powerful parenting tools I have in my toolbox is to share with her my own personal experiences (age-appropriate of course). Admitting my (many) failures has had a surprisingly edifying effect on our relationship. I see it as simply God's beautiful redemption in action. For that, I am overwhelmingly grateful.

God chose *you* to parent this beautiful little girl, because you are the perfect match. If you're at all like me, get ready to learn your greatest lessons in God. :)

Jessica
Reply April 23, 2010

I am the momma of one girl and 3 boys....and let me tell you ...ovethat one girl....I DO FRET....and fear. I love this topic and all that have contributed. I will hover here for knowledge as I feel I have none to give.

Corinne
Reply April 23, 2010

Oh KeLi...
My second is a girl, and I still don't know how to do it. I don't know how to protect her against the demons that I am still trying to slay. I don't know. Except that trusting God, and giving her a warm home, a safe place to always come to... those things make a difference.
I've written about it a few times, and it's becoming a recurring theme, because my little girl pulls my heart strings in such different ways than my son. In good ways, challenging ways, and learning ways. Because I'm still on that journey, I'm still broken and and in need of a little mending. So we'll be on the journey together...

deb
Reply April 23, 2010

As the mother of one boy (21) , and four girls ( 19 -12) , I have to say that I honestly don't know why this isn't something I've had to deal with.
My husband would say that it's because we keep them so busy with sports but of course that isn't the answer.

I think my girls have self respect, fear, empathy, and security. I don't think they feel the need to "act out" . When I was growing up , one of my best friends was not allowed to do anything. And did everything and more.
I don't think that saying no always works. I think saying go and be in the world and we'll figure this out together might be a better approach.

I was going to delete this, because I do not feel like I am any kind of authority, but honestly, I think girls want to feel strong enough to do their own thing , but have definite boundaries. If you are paying attention, you will know when they are struggling, and you will be there to bounce stuff around with them. That you ask this would suggest that you are .

and I am going to continuing praying that I don't have to backpedal and swallow these words. :)

Emily
Reply April 23, 2010

I felt the same way when I heard those words at my first sonogram ten years ago. Here's what I've learned so far:

1) All you can do is work your hardest to be the kind of person you hope she will become. If I treat people with respect; if I'm the first one to admit it when I've done something wrong or been unkind; if I am firm about holding to a set of values--she will be, too.

2) Do everything you can to encourage a strong bond between your husband and your daughter. They need a bond all their own, one that doesn't even involve you except when necessary to support it. It will do wonders for her future relationships.

3) Write the love story between you and your husband large in your common life as a family. If she sees true devotion, commitment, and love as part of her everyday world, she won't be derailed by indiscretions that might lurk in your past.

4) Always tell her the truth to the fullest extent she can handle. Kids quickly recover from the revelation that their parents are imperfect (since they suspect as much anyway). What they don't bounce back from is deception, and they are unbelievably good at sniffing out lies, half-truths, and wish-they-were-truths.

It really is an amazing journey to mother a daughter. Maybe you've heard it said that if you really want to know how to do something, try to teach it to someone else. In trying to teach my daughter how to become a woman of worth, I feel like I might have figured out how to be one myself.

Tamara
Reply April 23, 2010

God gave me two girls... and this was exactly my fear when I thought about having children. I have decided to be honest with them... I give them the simplest truth (when they ask for it). I also think it is ok for my children to not know every crook and crevice of my life... and I think it's ok to first ask them, 'Why do you want to know?', if they are asking questions I am uncomfortable answering. Boundaries are good. Teaching them to give care and respect to another's soul journey is good. Teaching them the difference between 'secret' and 'sacred'. I have had to release my children to God, and to release myself from being the one in control of their life choices and salvation. This is one of the hard consequences of the sin, but God is God, and He is bigger. God loves them. God will draw them to Himself, just as He drew me. I don't want them to hurt in the process, but I have to love them enough to allow them that, if that is what they need in order to know Him. I try to teach my children to own their choices... I think that is also a huge part of it, because it's something I had to learn. I want to always be a person who models redemption and grace - not someone who holds up and glorifies a standard of perfection. I want my daughters to know that there is abundant grace for all manner of sins... because one way or another, they are going to need to know that.

Linda
Reply April 23, 2010

I am a grandmother, but somehow the older I get the more I realize that I certainly don't know it all.
I have two sons and one daughter. I think that we share with our children as they grow and as circumstances dictate. I think there may be some things we don't want to share in great detail - just to tell them that we have been where they are and haven't always made the best choices. Other times, more details may be just what is needed.
I sometimes lay awake at night rehearsing all the mistakes I made and squirming with guilt and remorse, but the Father reminds me that I have not been in this mothering business alone. In spite of the sometimes horrific mistakes I made, our children have grown into the most amazing young adults. When people ask me what the secret is, I just say grace.

deb
Reply April 23, 2010

emily ~ that was amazing. thank you for saying what I couldn't .

keLi
Reply April 23, 2010

@ Brooke: So good to read your cautionary tale. I had hoped you’d post your thoughts, since your “dancing too close to the line” post echoed so much of the emotional pain (so often overshadowed by concerns about getting physical) that I would love to protect her from.

@ Amy: Thanks for the encouragement – and for the reminder about how, even now, God is “parenting” me. As someone who still struggles with accepting grace as a gift, I guess I just worry that I won’t be a good gift-giver.

@ Emily: Your list smacks of wisdom … the call to “be the kind of person you hope she will become” sounds so simple and so difficult that it must be the truth.

What’s strange is that I hadn’t considered (perhaps being that mama who thinks she keeps it all spinning on its axis) how important a role my husband will play. My own father wasn’t good at showing love or grace, and I hadn’t really thought about how different things will be for this little girl, from a fatherhood perspective.

And, if I could pry, both you and Tamara mention the importance of telling the truth, but I guess I’m still wondering what that looks like in action. I’m not sure I fully understand the distinction you make between “sacred” and “secret.”

Without noseying too far into anyone's personal stories, and assuming that conversations would happen at age-appropriate levels, I’d like to ask what sorts of things you view as “off limits” for discussion, and in what areas do you think we, as moms, need to push into that space of uncomfortable and messy and tell the whole truth?

Kathleen
Reply April 23, 2010

I am not a mother.
But I have one.
When I was a young child, probably 10-or-so, I asked my mom if she was a virgin when she married my dad. She looked away, hung her head, and as the tears began to roll donw her face, she whispered, "Barely." I asked no more.
And now I have grown up a bit more, have meet the man I hope to call "husband" in a few months, and my "youthful lusts" rage an ugly battle.
But you know who I trust? My mom. I can be honest with her, not finding judgement, but understanding, prayer, advice, and love. Despite shame, she was honest with me. And I know that I can be honest with her.
Please...."buy the truth and sell it not..." not only for your own sake, but for your daughter's too.

Joy
Reply April 23, 2010

KeLi...

Thanks for writing this out. You verbalized so well what the struggle is- I was flipping through my daughter's scrapbook for the first year the other day, and I was surprised how much of the journaling was speaking to how I was learning a new dance with her, my first girl. (She's almost four now.)

It felt like a gift to see this pop up in the Reader tonight...funny how God answers our prayers some times.

I had a really strained, awful relationship with my mom, especially when it came to intimate matters. I was the best friend that someone described- prohibited from doing everything, so I got into 'everything' out of rebellion and frustration. There has been a lot of healing since I've been married and become a mama myself, but there are still whole 'rooms in the house' that we don't walk through together.

I think that Daddy has a lot to do with it. My dad was a harsh, absentee father. I always felt the weight of his disdain for me, and I think it fueled a lot of the decisions I made in my teenage years. But as I watch my little girl with my husband, I must admit, I am finding healing in the way he is treating her, if that makes sense? I heard something on the radio the other day, and I've been chewing on it ever since- it was something to the affect of "We all know that our mothers love us, but it is from our fathers that we find our worth and acceptance." I know in my own life that so many of my decisions were defined by my lack of self worth and his little belief in me, so it didn't make any sense to 'do the right thing', make the right decisions, because I didn't matter anyways. I already see more self confidence in my daughter at her young age than I ever was in childhood because my husband is very careful to affirm her and say all those things I always longed to hear my Dad say. "Oh, look how beautiful you are! " One of the most powerful things I see go on between them is actually when James disciplines her- he often says something to the effect of " Lorelei, little princesses and daughters of the King don't act like this. They choose to use kind words (or whatever the opposite of the infraction is)." And every time, I see her eyes light up at that word princess. She listens very seriously to what comes after- her heart is open. It's made me totally rethink how I discipline her myself, how I have some of those tough conversations with her now.

I find such truth in Kathleen's post. I know I will face it, I know I need to tell the truth---as difficult as it is. But I won't hide and wall off like my mom did...that made it all the worse!

I can't imagine what teenage years will look like- but I hope that somewhere in it all will be that balance between affirmation and understanding and the not-so-fun stuff. I have four boys, and they seem so *easy* compared to my sweet girl! The issues we face with girls are on such a deeper level in many ways.

I hope, above all, that L knows just how much I love her.

Emily
Reply April 23, 2010

KeLi, I had a great model for truth-telling in my own mother. She was not always age-appropriate in her revelations, so I've had to figure that out for myself, but I think I know just about every dark secret my mother has--premarital sex, an abortion, extramarital sex, drug use, alcoholism, two divorces, etc. I have struggled to understand the choices she made, but I have never struggled with my love for and acceptance of who she is as a beloved, forgiven child of God and as my mother.

I have learned so much about what not to do in life by watching and listening to my mother. My interest in her experiences was never for entertainment or gossip; it's always been about knowing how to recognize and avoid those traps the Enemy sets. Her honesty deepened my faith and quite possibly saved my marriage a few years ago. I am SO grateful that she is willing to wade into deep water with me and make herself vulnerable in that way.

Though I respect Mom for her openness when it comes to her own stories, I do not appreciate the occasions when she's told me things that impact my relationships with or opinions of other people.

As a result, I will answer any question my daughter has about me, my choices, my life. I will answer questions that are public knowledge about other people. But I will not tell her all the crazy things that her Godmother--my best friend--did in high school or that my husband did in college. Those seem off-limits because they are not my stories to tell.

Tamara
Reply April 23, 2010

At this point, my oldest daughter is 13... we're just starting to get to the 'nitty gritty' stage of these discussions. She has not asked me, yet, whether or not I was a virgin when I married her dad... or if her dad and I had sex before we were married (two different questions)... but I think I've already made it fairly clear that I understand the nature and consequence of unwise choices, and have not given illusions that I'm any paragon of virtue. They know I love love Jesus. I'm not really sure, myself, what I mean by 'secret/sacred'.. except that I know it is important, to me, to know that I don't have to lay my whole life bare to my daughter in order to speak the truth to her. Maybe I should have said 'private' in place of 'secret'.

Perhaps this is an issue for me because a large part of my story is about violation, but I don't think I need to necessarily tell my children 'who', 'where', 'how', you know? I am personally comfortable to tell my daughters, should they ask, that my first time was with a boyfriend, that it was highly disappointing as an experience, that he turned out to be profoundly disappointing as a man, that I regretted it immediately, deeply for many, many reasons. I am more than willing to tell them what it did to my soul, how it changed the course of my life, how and where I know I could have made different choices before I made THAT choice. I would use this as an opportunity to discuss things like the importance of owning your choices, about the good that God made when He made man, and about condoms. I would absolutely only tell these things in the context of being one part of the greater story of what God has done in me, how I broke, how He healed me, how I came to fall in love with Him, how I came to be the person who fell in love with their father, how I learned about grace, about walking humbly, about being washed clean, about being transformed by the renewing of my mind. I don't necessarily think I 'owe' my children all that information, but those are the things that are profoundly precious, sacred, hard won truths, to me, and I would willingly break them open and spill them out for my children.

On the other hand, I do not feel that means that I need to, or even should,'uncover my nakedness' before them. They are my children, not my husband... whatever information I give them is only in service to them, and not because they are owed some kind of 'confession'. They don't need answers to every question simply because they're curious.... to be blunt, I guess, they probably don't need to know things like how many lovers I've had, what kind of specific experiences I've had, etc. There simply are things that are personal, private, none of their business. I think it's healthy to teach them that, and to model for them how to be a woman who respects herself, sets boundaries and expects the people who love her to respect her boundaries. I think the important thing for me is to let my children see me authentically working out my faith in the here and now, good, bad, ugly, and for them to see me extending, asking for and living under Grace. We have really amazing conversations, and having daughters has truly been the most surprising blessing for me.

Tamara
Reply April 23, 2010

I just read Emily's, and I want to change my answer. Lol. I love this blog.

Misty
Reply April 24, 2010

Tamara I am glad you didn't change your answer! You always speak truth so beautifully to me.

These are all such great responses. Thank you.

Like Emily, I also had a very honest mother and was often the person she confessed to. This actually had a negative impact on me in ways that I am realizing more and more, and was more selfish on her part I think. I agree that it also helped me to avoid her pitfalls, but overall it was a real violation. So this is what I fear with my own daughters. I definitely have the committment to honesty, but I just pray that God will guide me as to what is appropriate to share or not share.

I think I will always having nagging fears about raising my girls but I have been so blessed to read all of this, and to be reminded of the way that God has already been at work guiding me and molding me to be the mother that they need.

cassie
Reply April 24, 2010

I feel ridiculous writing here. I am gaining so much from this that I wonder how what I have to add is really "adding" anything. I tread so lightly because it is not my story but one thing I would like to say in response to Misty..... maybe the reason for the negative impact your mother's confession had on you is just that, that she was confessing to you. If it were that she had confessed and dealt with it before speaking to you do you think that it would have felt like an entirely different conversation? I also love what Tamara shared on what to share and how it impacted her.

I would also like to ask if anyone can add to my own story. My daughter is only 2 but this is something I have also thought about since before she was born. I have definitely made decisions that I am not proud of, that were not pleasing, that have had an impact on my marriage and who I am today but if I were to share those I think most people would say, "no big deal." As I said my daughter is only two but her personality already seems completely opposite of mine. She is much more like my husband in temperament. She seems to be one that will have to fall hard before she will learn.

When she asks me and if she feels that I have no story to share where will she go and will it make her feel inadequate if she has already stepped over the line? In typing this out I think I have answered my own question. She will go to her father, my husband, who will hopefully share his own story that has had it's own consequences on both of us. I pray she will also see God's way of making beauty from ashes.
I so deeply in the core of me just want her to know that God has provided for us one "best" plan, because of His great love, to protect us, but when we choose to step away from that road the great thing is that there are so so so many roads that He provides to turn back to Him.
I look forward to Fridays now even more than before.

Emily
Reply April 24, 2010

Cassie, I think you hit the nail on the head about how the damage happens when truth-telling takes the form of confession between mother and daughter. When I come to my mother with a question that's eating me up and she answers, that is a blessing. When she feels the need to spill her guts to me unbidden, it twists things around so that I felt like she expects me to grant her forgiveness for things that I can hardly wrap my head around; I feel such weight and sadness when something is revealed that way. One is grace, the other is selfishness.

But I do forgive her, over and over again, not just for the things she did but also for putting me in that position. And God ends up teaching me a few things through that process, too.

Becca
Reply April 24, 2010

KeLi,
You already have taken the first step in not only realizing your fears but being proactive in how to deal with them. I am probably a better case study in how NOT to do it- but that helps too, I think! I was raised in a VERY secretive home and we just knew not to ask our mother any questions. When I left home, I became very rebellious but continued the secrecy- living one life in front of family and another 'night life.' I married and got pregnant with - you guessed it, a girl. We were blessed with another girl 4 yrs later and oh, how I wish I had raised them differently. I raised them entirely out of fear that they would reproduce me in their lives, which led to either being too strict or too lenient. God is gracious however---and I had to realize He is the one that gave me girls!! My firstborn didn't struggle much and found her identity in Christ early. My second however, felt all the mistakes we made, plus the self inflicted burden of being in her sister's shadow. She went to college and made some very poor choices. But again, God is so good. And this is where I thinkI learned to let them go and just be there for them. She came home, told us everything, and said she didn't want to live that life. We made some major changes- I changed my work schedule to be home more; and she and I went immediately into counseling. One of the biggest things that come out of that was that she felt like I took credit for every poor choice she made! So I wonder, did she make choices while gone that I didn't have anything to do with and couldn't take blame for?? So, I HAD to let go and realize she may make more but all I can do is love her through it. We have learned how to communicate and how to agree to disagree. We do a Beth Moore Bible Study together. Someone earlier posted that it is difficult to share those areas in which there was not yet healing and I have found that to be true.I believe that is why I accepted blame for her mistakes. I am now in personal counseling to deal with all the secrecy and learn how to be vulnerable. She has learned she has the choice of who to tell, but if people know, it's ok because it's forgiven. That is God's gift to me and my husband-though it was through hurtful choices, she found God's grace and is breaking the cycle in our family! The end result is that God has given you His girl to raise, not as extension of you, but as a child who will have the wisdom of a mom (and dad) to lead her in the ways of the Lord- and there may be some bumps along the way. And those bumps may just be what she ( and you) need to help her see that she truly is a princess.

Tamara
Reply April 24, 2010

I can absolutely relate to having a very 'honest' mother. She told me EVERYthing. Too. Much. Information. She did not give me the wisdom of her experience.... she confided in me her secrets. That is a HUGE difference. I feel too much of what she shared was about her seeking reassurance, wanting to give me her side before I found out some other way, trying to justify to me why she was not the mother she had wanted to be, or simply desperately wanting her sad story to have some kind of greater meaning. It had very little to do with me, and it was often very traumatic. I very early on made the personal decision not to blame my mother, or anyone else, for my choices. I also accepted that my children do not need or want to get all their wisdom from me and my life. They are in no way condemned to repeat family history simply because of who their parents are. They can choose to be born again, of Spirit. I tell them always that I know and believe that they will make good, Godly choices for their lives. I think knowledge of my faith in them is of more value to them than knowledge of my failures.

joann
Reply April 24, 2010

i just realized, reading all of this, that I'm petrified of being asked by my sons, and I'm secretly relieved that I don't have daughters because then I truly would turn into a pillar of salt. Looking at my past, I just don't know, I just can't handle it yet. How do you get over that? I'm forgiven by God, but I just don't want to TELL anyone, especially my children, about my sins. Can't I just put my kids in a little bubble where they don't even THINK to ask me questions like that? Can I just stay at the "Why is it raining today?" level? How do you get over fear? Or is it shame? Or is it pride? How do you deal with it?

LL
Reply April 24, 2010

As I have read this post and thought about it today there is one thought that keeps coming back to me. God gives us the grace as we need it. So often I want to store up grace so that it will be there for me when I think I will need an extra dose of it. That can't be done. Rather, God gives us the grace we need, to the measure we need it, when we need it. At those given moments when we need to grace and discernment to know what to say or when to say it God will be there for us as we walk with Him. Just as a child grows so we too can keep growing, healing and learning as we go. Grateful for all of God's grace moments.

joann
Reply April 24, 2010

thank you LL, I have decided not to freak out. Not until my children can go potty by themselves at least.

Amber
Reply April 25, 2010

I'm gobbling this stuff up. My life is spinning so fast that I can't see straight and part of it is my deep concern about my incapacity to handle all the things I know are coming in my direction.

LL, thank you so much for that comment about grace in the moment. I need to root myself deeper in Him and trust His grace to come as it's needed.

I appreciate you ladies so much - coming here to minister. I don't have much to say, but I'm encouraged so much by the word of your testimony.

V. Higgins
Reply April 25, 2010

Another one who is not a momma but has felt the impact of my Momma's life in my own. God has been doing so much to show me the importance of our stories lately. My now husband and I definitely crossed major lines before we were married, when we came to visit my family near our engagement I had to 'come clean' to my mom. It wasn't until then that she told me her story, briefly and painfully. Though I doubt it would have completely changed the choices I made... having that knowledge of the path she walked and knowing I could come to her and have her understand what I was dealing with... I can't help but wonder how that would have changed things. Ultimately it was my choice and my mistake, but having her guidance and honesty on the journey would have been a huge blessing.
Age appropriateness is a huge issue but I rarely believe that withholding our stories of God's forgiveness, redemption and grace can help anything. Prayer covering is huge and I already pray for how my husband and I can be an encouragement and a warning to his little brother as he enters the world of 'adult relationships'. But we do not doubt that God has called us to share our story to help others avoid the pain we brought on ourselves.

bekah
Reply April 26, 2010

ahhh! I am always days late on adding my two cents here! I blame it on my African internet....

A few thoughts. Though, really, there has been so much truth and wisdom shared already I could scare add on. But, I'm me, so I will! :0

Captivating has a chapter on this. Its been a bit since I read that but I remember points the book made being applicable here.

Amber, was it you who said a mother can't handle her daughter till she has faced her own heart? Or something to that affect?? I can't remember who said that now, but I LOVE that. Not just as it pertains to daughters, but to anyone we hope to minister too. Jesus offers healing and life and freedom and deep joy to us, that we can pour out into others.

@Emily-YES! I love your comment. Seeing my parents and the way my dad valued my mom was a great gift they gave me. And all the special things my dad did for me and my sisters growing up are jewels in a girls heart. I'm in my mid-20s now and I still melt when my dad buys me a dress or gets me jewelry.

@Cassie, I just wanted to write because I'm your daughter! I am SO different from my mother and the exact personality of my father. I look like my momma physically but I have my daddy's heart and mind thru and thru. (I know I am veering off talking about my dad here but its all I have to relate to as my mom was, in her words, squeaky clean")

And about my dad. He only got saved in college. I don't really know any details about his life prior to Christ. I know he would sneak into inappropriate drive-in movies, and that he had many girlfriends, but thats it. I'm older now and could wager a guess on other things knowing those things...but I've never felt the need to know.

I think knowing what I did about God, and about my dad made me want God more. I mean, really, my parents lived Jesus. They breathed Him in like air and took in orphans and widows and made our house a safe place for so many, I wanted what they had more than I ever wanted something else. I think that is key. They made Jesus alive and fun and real. We'd pray together as a family every single night growing up and usually the prayers lasted forever because we'd laugh and giggle and tease each other and pray serious and I wanted what they had. I think showing a real faith is the best gift you can give your daughter, KeLi.

I think this has a lot to do with personalities too. What my sister (who is JUST like my mom) wants to know and can handle and cares about are very different things than what I want to know. I think its good to parent your children individually. I love that my parents treated each of us 6 as people in our own right. I guess you have to be careful because if you tell "this" to so and so then another sibling could feel like you love them less, but I believe it is so much in the way things are shared. We always had private dates with our parents one-on-one growing up and then also just me and dad, and just me and mom. Even overnight trips to a local hotel. I cherished those times with my mom....
I'm rambling....

I guess what I think you can do for your daughter, is fall in love with Jesus. Be real but be appropriate in your honesty. Jesus will give you grace. He will give you answers and wisdom in the moments your heart freezes in panic and He will shower you with joy.
I believe in you, KeLi...

deidra
Reply April 26, 2010

My daughter will be 19 this year. I didn't always do it right. And I haven't read what the others have said, so this may be a repeat. But one day my mom told me that when children ask us questions...questions that hinge on eternity...we should answer them with the truth. My mom told me this when I was already an adult with young ones running between my legs and swinging from my Jordache jeans while I tried to wash the dishes. She told me after I was grown and had asked her questions that she had chosen not to answer.

She told me when we answer with the truth, we need only answer exactly what they ask, and then wait to see if they still need to know more. They'll let you know. So when my daughter started to ask me if I'd had sex before marriage, if I'd ever smoked a joint, if I'd ever been drunk - I told the truth. At first, just one-word answers that satisfied her curiosity. But as the years went on, there were more questions that required explanation and so I told the truth. Lightning did not strike me down. My daughter didn't run from me or disown me or stare in horror at my answers.

And I think that my telling the truth to her made grace a concept that was easier for her to grasp than it had been for me when I thought that I had been raised by a woman who never sinned and I knew that I was a sinner. A big one. My daughter knows that I don't have it all together. But I do have experiences to share and mistakes that she doesn't have to make. And although my mom learned about telling your children the truth long after her own had grown up, my daughter and I have her to thank for a lesson well- taught and well-learned.

Melissa
Reply April 26, 2010

Oh how excited am I to see this question? I've had the very same fears about mothering my daughter. I've no advice only more questions...Some of my fear is all wrapped up in complications with my momma, some fears are all about walking through life in the skin of a girl and knowing what she will face. Some are more cultural...like what is it about us gals that hates to be associated with other gals? How so many of us hate womens ministries and pretend like we are so much different than 'those women' who go to 'those retreats'? I am one of those. I've never gone. I try and be 'one of the boys' because I think that is somehow better. I try to be different than the rest of the wives/women...less cliche. Is that woman hating at its finest? Yes. It is this fear that I have. The 'I don't get women' fear. I'm finding this not uncommon. Especially in this blogosphere. Here where we who pretend not to need relationships find them? I don't know. These last 4 years have changed everything as I have recklessly pursued female relationships and been so richly blessed. I'm still awkward at it. I think it is because my mom and I don't know how to talk to each other. But I've found women who get it..get me. And it is good.
All I hope for with my daughter is that we 'get' each other. And that we can navigate the road to Holy together at different points on the path.
Thanks for this sweet space Amber.
And you post today is much the place I'm at...broken clay.
Praying for you...

kathy
Reply April 26, 2010

Soaking the wisdom up.

I can relate on so many levels
- An over sharing/ needy mom - lack of relationship with my mom - out of control rebellious years - 3 boys - now 1 daughter- fearful like no other - scared of what our relationship will be -

Thank you for sharing ladies. No words to articulate. Praying that God will fill in the gaps.

Southern Gal
Reply May 7, 2010

It is the hardest job there is - being a mom to a daughter. I don't have a list of dos and don'ts to list for you. I do know I serve a great God who takes all my feeble attempts and makes them good. Love her. Pray for her. That's all I know to tell you. Dig into His Word and pray. And realize when she gets old enough to make choices, they are HER choices. They are not a reflection on you or your parenting abilities. They are her choices made by a girl who has a sin nature just as we all do. God will work those choices out to His good.

My oldest, my one and only daughter, is about to become a mother herself in June...to a daughter. I pray she will be the mother God called her to be. To give her all to that little life. And to extend grace when things may not go as she planned.

Congratulations to you.

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