My daughter is eight years old and going on 16. Since birth she has amazed me with her beauty, charm, and her strong independent spirit. She’s the kind of person who loves to delight and be delighted in. The kind of person you always want in your company because she has such charisma and genuine love for people. There is much to admire in my daughter. So why do I have such a hard time getting along with her?
The battle starts every morning. My daughter knows that she needs to eat breakfast, get dressed, have her hair done, make sure everything is ready for school, and then put her shoes on when it’s time to go. Every morning is the same simple routine, but she treats the instructions as if every item is up for debate. Pretty quickly I find myself falling into the same frustrating arguments that always end in tears and threats. In the flesh, I am quick to yell and become harsh. But the Holy Spirit gently reminds me that the words I speak to my daughter are crucial. My tone of voice is everything in how my daughter will perceive our relationship. That still, small voice asks me, “Does she still know that you love her?” The question stings my heart but it is rightfully posed. I fear that I am failing as a mother.
The mother-daughter relationship is unique and tremendously powerful. “A daughter is a mother’s gender partner, her closest ally in the family confederacy, an extension of her self. And mothers are their daughters’ role model, their biological and emotional road map, the arbiter of all their relationships” (Victoria Secunda). I recognize the imprint my own mother made in shaping me as a person and it makes me realize how crucial it is to have a strong bond with my daughter.
My daughter is always watching. She is watching how I navigate through the world as a believer, as a woman, as a wife, and as a mother. Ralph Waldo Emerson is believed to have said, “What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.” Little eyes are always watching and they are picking up much more by our example than by our teaching.
When my daughter becomes an adult, what do I want her to remember about her relationship with me? What do I want her to remember about me? If I keep these two questions at the forefront of my mind throughout the day, it keeps things in perspective. The answer is always: Jesus.
As her mother, I have the power to lift her spirits with a kind word or embrace, or I can cut her down with a few harshly spoken words. Colossians 3:21 tells us not to provoke our children, lest they become discouraged. All too often I slip into the mind frame that “because I said so” should suffice and halt all further argument. Over the years I have learned that this does not work with a strong-willed child. I must proceed carefully. So we are constantly engaged in a delicate dance between discipline and love, between grace and rebuking. It is my duty to strike the right balance so that she will grow up with a deep sense of being loved even when we disagree. She must know there will be times in her life that are not fair. Living in the world will often teach her the reality that she is not in control. She will often not have things go her way. I would be falling short as a mother if I did not adequately prepare her for the real world. At the same time, I want the message I convey to always be covered in love and abounding in grace.
In order for my daughter to feel the love of Jesus I have to make a conscious effort to understand how the Lord formed her personality. I must study the inner-workings of her heart. It helps to remember how God intentionally and specifically formed my daughter. He gave her this strong will so that she can stand firm in her convictions and her faith. He gave her the fiery spirit for a purpose. My job is to guide her without crushing the spirit God gave her. My greatest desire is to know that I am pointing my children towards Jesus. 1 Corinthians 13:13 says “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (NKJV). God wants me to show my daughter love above all else. He entrusts me with this task and considers me worthy, which is something I do not take lightly. Lord, help me raise this beautiful child of yours!
By: Jessica Mitchell