By Meg Bucher, Crosswalk.com
Raising daughters is not for the faint of heart. Raising kids isn’t for the faint of heart, yet many of us find ourselves in the thick of parenthood. Each season of parenting has taught me something new about myself and how much I need God daily. The two girls God put in my care have stretched me further than I thought I could bend, and I’ve embraced so many things as I have been on this journey with them. These ten bubbled up from my heart, but I’m only partway through the journey. Right now, they are 15 and 13, with so much more living to do ... and I'm trailing alongside for the ride, growing closer to God each step of the way as I lean on Him to help raise these beautiful daughters.
1. The Joy of Waiting
“Wait patiently for the LORD. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the LORD.” Psalm 27:14 NLT
This verse has become my anthem for motherhood, especially as my daughters traverse their teenage years. Trailing alongside them, I often have to face the true definition of patience. It’s the opposite of control and criticism. Motherhood tends towards controlling choices, as we want our kids to avoid making painful decisions. The reality of Christ-centered parenting is allowing our children to choose and loving them the same whether they heed our wisdom or not. It takes patience to wait and see what they will choose! It’s painful! Yes, patience is painful at times. Yet, when we trust the Lord, it can also be joyful to wait on what the Lord is doing in their young lives. To trust Him with them isn’t easy. It goes against all our natural responses, even though we know God has good plans for us …and our children. Bravery and courage aren’t words we usually associate with patience, but perhaps we should! Letting go of the control we really want as parents is brave, and unconditional love takes courage.
Top photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/CalypsoArt
2. How to Say ‘No.’
“Let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’” Matthew 5:37 NKJV
Raising daughters has taught me the reality of Matthew 5:37! If they have room to wiggle in a maybe, my daughters will relentlessly pursue a yes, like wiggling that first baby tooth loose! Or they will assume a ‘yes,’ which is a dangerous tendency we all have to misinterpret a maybe. Growing up, my daughters and I spent much time together while my husband worked long hours. Over the years, we’ve even dubbed ourselves ‘the three musketeers.’ Our closeness has made telling them ‘No’ all the much more complicated. When they are in danger as toddlers and littles, it’s easy to conjure up a firm ‘no.’ But as they age, the crocodile tears start to stream and cause even the most astute and wise mom to question their own ‘no.’ I’ve learned to stand firm in the ‘no’ moments, even if I am not sure I’m making the right call. “Your job is to listen to me,” I tell them, “If I’m wrong, God will deal with me.”
“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide me Me.” John 15:4 NKJV
The Gospel of John and these words of Jesus, he recorded, have been rocks of wisdom that hold the corners of my life in place. I’ve only raised daughters, so I can only speak from that angle, but it sure seems like girls have a lot of emotions to work out in life. I think, as women, we are constantly reigning in our astute sensitivity and empathy for the world around us and the people we’ve been blessed to keep watch over. In a world full of parenting books, ever-changing methods, and psychiatric philosophies as each generation emerges a little differently, I decided early on to hold the Author of all generations above all else consistently. I read parenting books, listened to podcasts, and sought counsel from Christ-centered sources. In conversations with other moms and wise parents who had gone and were going before me, I took everything back to the Lord to ask Him if it was right. Seeking His opinion was something I chose to make a priority from the start.
4. Good Habits
“Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.” Colossians 3:23 NLT
“It’s a girl.” When I heard those words for the first time, a waterfall of emotion ran down the sides of my face. I felt so much pressure to prevent her from falling into the comparison trap. Right away, I had to face my own insecurities and make a solid plan to avoid passing them down to my daughter … soon-to-be two daughters. Of course, there is no foolproof plan for that. Until recently, now 44 years old and raising two teenage daughters, I hadn’t looked at a scale I happened to be stepping on since my sophomore year in High School. The day the scale tipped over 100, I could see no use in paying attention to that number any longer. I’d witnessed the damage it had done to obsess over that number, and I vowed to my young self not to. Pregnant with my first daughter, I decided to stay healthy without calling attention to it. I promised that sweet unborn girl she would never hear me say anything negative about my physical appearance. We would enjoy dessert and never feel guilty about our jeans fitting a little too snug sometimes. As a distance runner, it was pretty easy to live out those promises when I was a young mom. Middle age has been a little more challenging, but now- as teens – my daughters hold me accountable. “Mom,” they will remind, “you said you never wanted us to worry about this stuff – we don’t talk like that.” The wonderful thing I have learned about raising daughters is the joyful results of good habits.
'Mom and daughter cooking healthy meal in kitchen' photo credit: ©Getty Images/ Thana Prasongsin
5. To Embrace the Present
“Enthusiasm without knowledge is no good; haste makes mistakes.” Proverbs 19:2 NLT
Rushing is a way of life in our country. Each generation seems a little more hurried, making it essential to remember what God says about embracing the present. Every year, on the first day of school, I cry. I cry because I am excited about my daughters growing up. I cry because it’s going so fast. I look back at their first days of kindergarten and miss those little faces and crooked smiles. I cry because I am so proud of the young women they are, and I cry because I am excited to see what they do next. And I have learned to embrace those tears but not sit and swim in them too long. So, after I cry, I call my mom, who annually reminds me to embrace the present. She tells me what a good job I am doing as a mom, and then time marches on.
Being present at the moment is difficult with technology. But I have learned I only get one, maybe two, chances to listen and engage in conversation with my daughters. And in our family … there are often conversations equipped with quips I do not want to miss! The car is often a no-phone zone because it’s sometimes the only time I have to catch up with them throughout the day. I have learned to embrace the present and not to sit and swim in any of the tears, the conversations, the excitement, and the nostalgia for too long, or I’ll miss the next gift.
'Mom and daughter walking on nature path' photo credit: ©GettyImages/AzmanL
6. Not to Worry Forward … or Backward
“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” Matthew 6:34 NLT
Over the years, I have realized worry is a trust issue. Sometimes, it is a very valid trust issue, but a trust issue. When I dropped my oldest off at preschool on the first day, I remember those first-day tears being different from all I now look back on. Those tears were scary. I was handing over complete control for the first time. I walked out of that building without her to live the next three hours of her life without me right there. Those terrified tears almost paralyzed me in a world full of school shootings. If I let my mind wander down that trail, I knew I could not drive out of the parking lot and away from the school without her.
I struggled to relax for weeks while she was in school, worried something bad would happen. When sirens raced past the house, I panicked that they could be on the way to the school. Daily, I began to pray for their safety. And each day, as I prayed, the panic released its grip. I began to learn more about what it meant to trust God. He loves my daughters more than I do and has good plans for their lives.
7. The Need to Pray
“Never stop praying.” 1 Thessalonians 5:17 NLT
I would be remiss as a parent if I did not include the importance of prayer in the cumulative things I have learned raising daughters. And not just because of our house's ever-changing roller coaster of emotion. Prayer is my lifeline. When I don’t know what to do or make a mistake, lose my patience, or model the wrong behavior -when they are not talking to me about what’s going on, and when they are talking to me about what’s going on …prayer – talking to God – has scooped me up and set me back on solid ground. I have learned to pray during conversations, after conversations, and for conversations that will come this day that will undoubtedly catch me off guard. I pray for God to give me perspective, see them as He does, and pass His wisdom and love to them through me. I need to pray—all day. Never stop praying seemed unrealistic until the doctor handed me these baby girls …one at a time …two years apart. And I don’t think I have stopped praying since!
'Little girl praying next to mom with Bible' photo credit: ©GettyImages/Sasiistock
“For, ‘Who can know the LORD’s thoughts? Who knows enough to teach him?’ But we understand these things, for we have the mind of Christ.” - 1 Corinthians 2:16 NLT
The mind of Christ means remembering Him and surrendering to His point of view. The way Christ sees things in this world is not how we are naturally calibrated. It’s why He told us to remain in Him. Thankfully, we are never alone in this life, a perspective I have come to appreciate – especially raising daughters. It can feel lonely and isolating as we let our ‘No’ be ‘No’ and cling to prayer for the patience to wait for our kids to take their next steps. It’s been so important for me to remember what Jesus would do, as the old (which are now the new again) bracelets my friends and high school wore. WWJD, they proudly stated. What would Jesus do? It’s a valid and practical question I have learned to apply as a parent of two teenage daughters! It keeps me from making rash decisions and saying things I will regret when I remember to consult the old popular saying. The mind of Christ is adopting a Christ-centered perspective of life and humbly submitting to His way over my way. Which, as a mom, isn’t always so easy! Especially when my daughters are pressing all my buttons!
“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.” - James 4:10 NLT
Humility can carry such a weak undertone if we allow the way society defines it to guide our opinions. Humbling ourselves before the Lord is the wisest course of action we can take daily. “Well, I messed that up, didn’t I?” is a constant conversation starter in daily prayer with God over my parenting skills. It’s hard. I’ve read a ton of books, gone to a plethora of Bible studies, and listened to all kinds of wise podcasts about parenting …but I still mess it up all the time. I’m starting to think all the resources exist so that we know when we’ve messed things up! God knows we can’t parent on our own. He knows we can’t always do life the right way, even when it’s our intention. We’ve got sin to deal with. And so do our children. My daughters are sinners, too. So, in a house full of sinners, it will get messy sometimes. But when we are all willing to humble ourselves before the Lord and let him take the lead, we come through the calamity without our clothes on fire.
'Mom and daughter chatting on bed' photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/Ivan Pantic
10. Dependence on God
“For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.” Hebrews 4:12 NLT
Anyone who has tried to communicate with their teenage daughter knows the desire to take what is formulating inside our minds and the best places of our hearts and just put it into words that will come out of our mouths laced with the perfect emotional tone attached to them. Everything is mud. Misunderstood, misspoken and misplaced. So often, emotions, ego, and insecurity hijack conversations. Raising daughters had most prominently taught me to depend on God. Long before they were teenagers, I would lock myself in the bathroom for five minutes just to read a Jesus Calling devotional. I remember being amazed at how much wisdom and help God could pack into a simple paragraph and five minutes in the bathroom. He honors our desire to seek Him, and that time for me became in the early morning hours. Consistently, almost every morning (not perfectly), I am sitting at my desk with a small dim light on, dependent on the Word of God to uplift, encourage, teach, and prepare me for the challenge of getting my kids to school in the morning …and beyond. It’s my favorite time of day. I depend on that time with God. Raising daughters has taught me the importance of depending on God.
Raising daughters is something I’ll be doing until the Lord calls me home. No matter how old they get, I’ll always be a little be a little bit older. And though their need for me will change, God is faithful to guide me into the next season of my role raising daughters. He has taught me so much through motherhood, one day at a time. I’m sure the rest of my days will be filled with no less from our great God.
'Mom and daughter hugging' photo credit: ©GettyImages/LSOphoto