This was originally published on Lifeway Girls (with a few edits. For example, my boys are no longer 4 and 2 like they were when I originally wrote this!)
Currently, I’m an all boy mom (ages 6 and 4). There are fifteen Hot Wheels in my purse to prove it! There’s a little girl in India growing in my heart, though, as we’re in the process of adopting. I’m thrilled for the bows and monograms, but I know the teen years loom in the future. While my mom would say she didn’t handle my teen years perfectly, I think she did pretty well. We came out on the other end of those rocky years friends, and our relationship was just getting to that “sweet” spot when she passed away. I’m by no means an expert, as I’ve never walked in the shoes of a mom of a teen girl, but my heart beats for mother/daughter relationships, because I know how necessary and special they are. Here are encouragements for moms in the trenches of teen years from things I thought my mom did well:
- Mom put Jesus first in her life and discipled me to do the same. Our children do what we model for them. Mom modeled putting Christ first by faithfully serving our church, reading the Word, and sharing Scripture with me. We’re the main discipler of our children. It’s our responsibility to teach them about Christ and how to put him first. Academics, sports, etc. are great things, but they can’t be before Jesus and the things of him. Teens need parents’ guidance to keep these things from becoming idols and to keep Christ on the throne, as he should be.
- Mom wasn’t my best friend. Mom knew what I needed most was a parent. This means sometimes she said, “No” to hanging out with friends or wearing an outfit because that’s what was best for me. I didn’t like it in the moment, but I appreciate it so much now. My parents’ “no’s” were God’s grace in my life to help me walk in a manner worthy of Christ. Mom and I still developed a great friendship, especially in my college years.
- Mom was involved in my life. I might’ve acted like I didn’t like it when she signed up to go on church trips or showed up at school pep rallies, but I really did. Being involved in my life gave Mom opportunities to get to know my friends, the guy I liked, etc. It was also a way she showed me she cared about me and the things I was interested in.
- Mom listened to me. No one could listen to me like she did. When I came home hurt because I was left out or frustrated over a grade, Mom was my “sounding board”. She allowed me to share my frustrations, hurts, and joys before giving her thoughts. Also, I knew what I told Mom would stay between us. All in all, remember we have two ears & one mouth (I know, it’s easier said than done!).
- Mom was neutral. I experienced girl drama like most teen girls, and Mom was there for me through it all. However, she didn’t instigate it or “stir the pot”. If I was hurt, she hurt with me. If I was in the wrong, though, she let me share my feelings, but then spoke the truth in love to help me reconcile the situation. This is part of discipleship. She taught me how to make amends with friends, how to forgive, and how to ask for forgiveness. (Disclaimer: This doesn’t apply to major problems and bullying. If that’s the case, step in! This is for more typical, petty teenage girl type things.)
- Mom was my #1 fan. She was there for each football game and competition I cheered at, and everything in between. I knew I had her support and encouragement, and that meant the world to me. It’ll mean the world to your daughter too.
- Mom showed me grace. Neither person in the mother/daughter relationship is perfect. Mom loved me like Jesus and disciplined with love and grace.
- Mom spent intentional time with me. We’d go out for ice cream, to lunch, or shopping. When we were having fun together, I was more likely to open up and share the details of my life with her!
Children are a heritage from the Lord, a true gift from him (Psalm 127:3). Right now, your teen girl is in a vulnerable season. She desperately needs your love, guidance, and yes, even discipline. One day, that teenage girl will hopefully become a woman who’s a friend that comes to you for advice when she’s cooking her first dinner or when her baby won’t stop crying. I’m sure these teenage years are tough, but keep persevering. Follow Christ, and and he’ll guide you in raising your daughter. I can tell you from experience, my relationship with Mom grew better with age.
Like I said, I’m no expert. I’m simply a former teenage girl who saw her mom parent her with intentional love through those tough years. Since Mom is with Jesus, I won’t have her to call when my daughter hits these years, but these are the pieces of wisdom she displayed I store in my heart. Moms, you’re doing a good work. Though the days are hard, the drama seems endless, and you’re unsure if you’ll ever have a good relationship, keep pursuing Christ and loving your daughter. Christ is glorified as we raise up the next generation for his glory!