Ruth Chou Simons, a mom of six man-cubs (as she calls them), says, “Motherhood is sanctifying”—so true.1 Sanctification is an ongoing process. It is the actions and processes required to make something right, acceptable, purified, free from sin, and holy. Sanctification is challenging, and frankly, it is not accomplished by our own power. Instead, God uses motherhood for those who have children to refine, strengthen, and transform us throughout our lives. And God continues to sanctify me as a mom of three daughters.
Mother/daughter relationships can be tricky. I use the word tricky because sometimes mother/daughter relationships are awkward, difficult, or shall I say, sensitive. You discover some of your best and worst qualities when you are a mom. For the different stages of motherhood, one of the best things you can do is keep what I call your “mom card” and never give it up. God called you to be your daughter’s mother. You are the mom. Regardless of her age, she needs a mom. Here are some tips for keeping your “mom card” during the different stages of your daughter’s development.
As a mom, what is your main focus during this time? Keeping your daughter safe, fed, clean, and laying the foundation for her life. No small responsibility! Honestly, these were some of the most difficult years for me. I was so selfish, and God needed to do some sanctifying in me! Remember during this season of motherhood that your daughter needs you for everything for healthy growth. It can be exhausting, but this time of building the foundation of your relationship is so important. Don’t expect your daughter to always do or say the right thing once she is talking. Baby girls need a mother’s gentle and loving teaching and to understand clear boundaries. Your daughter needs to begin understanding that you want the best for her and that anything you do is for her benefit. When your yes is yes and your no is no, she feels safe, and trust is built in your relationship. Recognize that when she says no to you, it is often because she is learning to become her own person or is voicing what she heard from you. However, you need to keep your “mom card” and kindly remind her of your authority. A lot of what you do as a mom during these years seems so repetitious. You may feel like you are correcting and guiding in the same things repeatedly as you nurture your daughter. But being consistently present, reinforcing the same truths, and following through with your yes or no develops trust—and trust is the basis of what you want for your mother/daughter relationship.
During these years, continue with consistency as a mom. Remind your daughter that you want her to grow up to fulfill all the wonderful plans God has for her. One of the challenging things for many moms during these years is to avoid placing your desires upon your daughter. Don’t try to make her love all the things you loved as a young girl, or push her to take part in the activities or hobbies you wished you would have pursued. Enjoy the time you have with your daughter, and allow her interests to develop. Allow your mother/daughter relationship to grow with the everyday rhythms of life. Let her know that you support her and believe in her. Constantly encourage your daughter. Remind her that you love her and want what is best for her in line with God’s plans. As she enters the preteen years, begin to treat her like a young woman. Allow her to mature and grow in God’s age-appropriate timing. Continue to give her responsibility and let her know that you trust her. Trust goes a long way in any relationship but especially with mothers and daughters.
Depending upon whom you talk to, these can be the best or the worst years for both the mother and the daughter. They may not always be smooth. However, continue to treat your daughter as a young woman and remind her that you trust her until she gives you a reason not to trust her. Give her some space to become more independent. Respect her privacy and her friends. Help your daughter learn how to resolve conflict, endure hard situations, and try new things. Don’t step in to solve all her problems or try to be her best friend or the best friend of all her friends. Remember that she still needs a mother who listens and shares wise counsel or guidance when needed. Sometimes you may feel like your daughter is drifting away from you. But it is important that she has not only you but other godly women speaking into her life. Encourage her to develop community and friendships that are separate from you. This will help her become confident and independent as a young woman. And isn’t that what we are striving for? Don’t we want our daughters to become independent young women who can stand up for themselves and are able to support themselves and live on their own?
My daughters have heard me say they will always be my babies, but I don’t treat them like babies. They are grown, young adult women. They need to discover new things and live life independently from me. God created each one for His kingdom plans and purposes. He has good works in store for them to complete during their lifetime. Their unique personalities, strengths, and differences need to shine for God’s glory and impact others with the gospel. At this stage of life, your daughter can become your best friend in so many ways, but still, you will always be the mom. There is something wonderful about a healthy mother/daughter relationship, and God has wired us to want and need a mother. Being a mom is a gift, and you don’t want to give that up. Your daughter doesn’t need you to give up on being her mom simply because she is an adult. At this stage of your mother/daughter relationship, remind your daughter how proud you are of her. She still desires your approval even when she does not act like it. Listen to her and respond with love when she shares her successes or failures. The bond of trust between you and your daughter will strengthen.
Motherhood is sanctifying. God uses motherhood to teach moms more about who He is—faithful, loving, merciful, caring—even when we are not expressing those same things toward our children. As God is teaching you throughout motherhood, teach your daughter about Jesus all along the way. Be consistent with church attendance, introducing your daughter to other believers in Christ. Be involved with your daughter as she makes new friends and help her learn how to care and pray for others. Allow her to see you reading Scripture, doing Bible study, praying, worshiping, and serving others. Your example, your words, your attitudes, and your actions will be the model she follows. When your mother/daughter relationship has Jesus as the foundation, it will continue to grow. He is the firm foundation that holds all relationships together, even mothers and daughters.
We’d love to hear some of your best advice for mother/daughter relationships. What are the characteristics you’ve seen in healthy mother/daughter relationships?
Michelle Hicks is the managing editor for Journey devotional magazine with Lifeway Women. Michelle served as a freelance writer, campus minister, and corporate chaplain before coming to Lifeway. She is a graduate of the University of North Texas and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Michelle has a deep hunger for God’s Word and wants others to discover the abundant life they can have with Jesus as their Lord and Savior.
1. Ruth Chou Simons, Gracelaced, accessed April 1, 2021, https://gracelaced.com/products/motherhood-is-sanctifying-greeting-card.