Being the boy mom that I am, I don’t often have much to say on the subject of raising or homeschooling girls. Thankfully, I have amazing friends who are willing to share their stories. Genevieve is one such friend.
Being a mom is not for the faint of heart. Being a mom of daughters in life-altering serious relationships is really not for the faint of heart. But if you believe that God gave your child to you, so many years ago, for His glorious purpose and for their good, then you will embrace even the fear you have rumbling around inside you. God will equip you and He will be your guide. He has been to me.
Do I have all the answers? Oh no. I’d never write a book about parenting, and I’m always crazy careful of what I say to others about such things because parenting is so terribly personal. What works 100% for one family doesn’t work well for another, but there are some constants that help me navigate the waters of “parenting older children” that I do try to cling to. There is so much here that I want you to understand – that I want to communicate – but I feel so incredibly inadequate to do so. Please bear with me.
Being a mother has been the great joy of my life.
There is nothing – and I mean absolutely nothing – that can compare with it. If someone offered me anything in the world as a trade, I’d refuse it because I think being a mom is the most exquisitely amazing, awesome, fearsome, terrifying, astonishingly rewarding gift of God there is outside of my personal salvation in Christ.
And just a note to say that I couldn’t parent without Jesus Christ. He is the Solid Rock on which I stand, when all around is sinking sand. When fear and sorrow, worry and uncertainty assail me, it is to Christ I go and His Word. There is power and joy and fear and gratefulness – truth, mercy, justice and peace – in the faith I live – and this faith is poured into my life as a mother.
I have the honor of being a mother to five amazing children. I mean that. When Mother’s Day rolls around, I sometimes think – I should be celebrating the gift of being a mother – and then other times I think, yeah, do celebrate me a little bit because really, this has not been all tea and cookies!
Parenting Teen Daughters
But for real – I want to talk about parenting older daughters. I have two young women living in my home and they are both (at the same time!) navigating the relationship waters. This is profoundly scary and amazing all at the same time. To those of you with little girls, the time will come when you will be both your daughter’s friend, her confidante, and the one that must tell her the hard things. You will be the one she comes to when she is struggling with feelings, fears, or major decisions that will change her life forever. This is a weighty and sometimes frightening gift from God. Don’t leave it to her girlfriends to be her guide because you have wisdom, love, and longing for a life of beauty, truth, and purity for your girl.
I can’t tell you how often I feel inadequate. I can’t tell you how often I go to prayer because I think – how can I do this correctly? God, give me your ability! Give me Your words so that I represent You in a way that glorifies You and makes sense to my beautiful treasures you gave me so many years ago. There are questions that are astonishingly embarrassing and difficult to answer and they are almost always asked at the most inopportune time. But it is SO important that you answer them with wisdom, honesty, and truth.
How open are you to talking about the hard and embarrassing aspects of a relationship (especially one that is proceeding to marriage?) There just are questions that will come up that you want your daughter to be prepared for. How ready are you to have those conversations? How open are you to doing so? If YOU don’t feel comfortable in that place then they will go elsewhere. Who do you want your girls getting their information from? It is so important that you are there to listen, to help, and to give counsel.
Keeping Jesus in the Center
Remind her that Jesus should be her focus. This is something that is easy to forget when the rush of new relationship feelings take over. I remember the excitement and pure adrenaline-fuelled joy that I felt when I knew I had found the ONE I was going to marry. I mean I was, as they say, over the moon!! I remember it. Do you remember? Even if you are now dealing with a difficult marriage, it was not always that way – and it certainly isn’t that way for my girls right now. They are sometimes quite literally over the moon – NOT on planet earth. I don’t like being the one to take them out of orbit and bring them back, but that is sometimes my job. The realities of “living on love” are hard and not much fun at all. I had to remind one of them – you know that when you marry you need to be ready, in nine months, to be a mother to a real live baby, and your husband needs to be ready to support you both. Are you there? This was a hard truth to communicate because it felt like I was taking the wind out of her sails, but I know she isn’t ready yet, and neither is he. Say the hard things in love.
Laughter and Joy are Key
Laughter and joy are important and should be a big part of your home. I think joy is a gift of God. Scripture says that, “The joy of the Lord is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10) I think joy is immensely important. Galatians 5:22-23 tells us, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Can you laugh together? Do you have a genuine friendship with your girls? Do you enjoy being together and spending time building relationships?
Letting Go of Control
I will never stop being a mother, but at some point things changed for us. I cannot really define what that means as it will look differently in every family, but I feel it is terribly important to release your children to their futures and help them make the best choices possible. They are not ours to control. I could demand certain things, and I could impose my will because they would honor it, but I don’t think that’s right. If I can think of my girls in a marriage—as wives and mothers—then don’t you think I should trust them with their lives? At some point their faith has to be theirs. Their choices have to be theirs, and we have to trust them to make their own decisions. I don’t believe that I get to make their most important life choices for them. I don’t believe that they are incapable of doing so. Doesn’t the Holy Spirit work in the lives of all His chosen children? I am not the Holy Spirit and I don’t think I have all the answers, but God does. As a mother, I need to come alongside my children and help them make the best choices for their lives. Are you doing this or are you trying to control them?
You’re Not Raising Children. You’re Raising Women.
Our girls grow up to be women. It doesn’t happen overnight, but it does happen. At some point you no longer have little girls—you have young ladies who in turn, become women. It has been an amazing gift to watch this transformation happen for my two oldest children. It is an honor to help them navigate their new grown-up lives. It is a joy to me that they let me be a part of this life change for them. They know me well enough to know that I will answer them honestly. I won’t always answer them calmly, but I will answer with honesty. Sometimes the questions are hard, but they are real, important, and deserve solid answers. Sometimes I am fearful, but there is Jesus. He is always there, in their lives, in my life, directing us toward the future that He has planned for all of us. It is a great and awesome joy to be a mother trusting in Jesus for the hope, life, and future of my children. Are you?