Mothers and Daughters

by Bailey on May 16, 2011 in Grace

I once shocked a girl by saying my mother was my best friend.

That has not always been true. Dark periods have come where the good little Sunday school girl made the metamorphosis into a bitter rebel traveling as far away as she could from everything that formerly defined her. I am not a perfect angel—I am just a girl with an amazing and very special gift: a mother-daughter relationship.

I say relationship intentionally, as it’s not merely a living arrangement until college or a cross to bear or a biological connection. Look around and see how many thriving mother-daughter relationships there are. There aren’t many.

It takes a fighting spirit, a strong spirit, a humble spirit to actively seek and keep a relationship with one’s mother. Not because mothers and daughters have a natural animosity to each other, but because a working mother-daughter relationship is a powerful tool in the shaping of future generations and present families. It’s under attack.

Girls today aren’t taught that concept. Sure, we’re taught the fifth commandment. We’re taught how to react if a parent gives a command (it’s the default subject in children’s church)—but we’re not encouraged to initiate a relationship. We’re okay with the idea of parents being distant authority figures—but kindred spirits? Forget about it. Girls today—we rolls our eyes as if there’s not a bigger fool on earth than our parents and not a person who knows it better than us.

“That’s nice. But it’s way too late to have anything but a strained, pasted-over-with-a-smile acquaintance. We just don’t understand each other.”

I’ve been there—from the happy daughter to the distant rebel and back again. My journey isn’t pretty (and it’s long, which is why I exclude it from today’s post). But this is what the Lord has taught me.

If you’ve got a broken or a mediocre relationship, read and apply as convicted. And if your mother-daughter relationship is sunny—well, none of this will hurt.

1. Spend time together. Seek her out one evening to snuggle up on the couch and talk about nothing in particular. Clean up the kitchen with her. When she’s running a quick errand to Wal-Mart, grab your cute flats and jump in the car with her. Tell her how much you love spending time with her.

2. Ask questions. Lots of questions. “Did you finish that newsletter you were working on last night?” “What did you think of that article in the paper?” “How are you this morning?” “What’d you learn up in Sunday school?” And when you ask questions? Truly listen to the answer.

3. Show kindness. Look over at your mother and tell her, “Mom? I love you.” Repeat often and at random intervals. Give hugs liberally, especially at times of stress. And speaking of stress, be on the lookout for pitching in with whatever’s stressing her out—swing the baby, do the laundry, take away the screaming toddler, grade a few papers—whatever needs to be done. Mothers are humans—humans in a house full of children in need of care. Be the one to care for your mother.

4. Apologize, confess and forgive constantly. If you’ve got a broken relationship, this one will be hardest. Walls don’t go up overnight. There’s a foundational disconnect that needs to be rooted out and replaced with love and grace (mothers need love and grace). Mothers are not perfect. Neither are their daughters. Even if your mother has hurt you and contributed to keeping the relationship cold, your sin is not excused. Forgive quickly the sins she does not apologize for. Quickly go to her when you sin and ask forgiveness. Don’t meditate on your mother’s faults with friends or your own heart—take your struggles to God and leave them there. And if there’s something fundamentally wrong with that relationship—your own pride, unconfessed rebellion or a combination of both—get that out in the open no matter how much it hurts. (It will hurt. But the other side will be amazing. I promise both.)

5. Protect and cherish your mother’s reputation. Dishonorable daughters love to expose their parents and exaggerate misunderstandings. The main thing they have to say about Mama and Daddy is that “they don’t let me [insert object of complaint].” Don’t be that daughter. Brag about your mother—brag about the amazing work God has done in restoring your relationship—rise up and bless her with the very lips that formerly denied her. Let your love be so genuine and infectious that rebels feel embarrassed to talk negatively of their own parents. Build her a reputation among your friends that exposes the very best, covers the worst and shows grace to everything in between.

6. Compromise. Do you and your mama butt heads over every, single, little thing? She thinks that skirt is inappropriate to wear to church—you think she’s nuts—seriously, is a skirt worth driving a wedge in your relationship? Mothers can be wrong without necessarily being diabolical. Treat disagreement as such—disagreement—and not as an attack on your character. Give in. How many times are disagreements huge and life-changing? [crickets chirping] When a daughter is pliable and humble (the mark of maturity and wisdom) during disagreement, her mother is more likely to want to listen and understand. If she’s pigheaded about little things—well, I honestly wouldn’t blame a mother for getting heated over that.

7. Show sensitivity and grace. Your mother is a sinner with a unique personality and many, many hopes and dreams—some of which she sacrificed for you. Find out what those dreams and opinions are. Love her. Fight for your relationship. Be open and honest. Think the best. Ignore the worst.

Give your mother the most precious gift you can—honor.

By Bailey, Big House in the Little Woods

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Art: Mother and Child by Frederick Leighton

Bailey

Bailey is a seventeen-year-old homeschooler in love with anything literary or theological. The second oldest of nine children, she finds joy in romping with her younger siblings, scribbling in her ever-expanding notebook and trying her hand at the home arts.

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{ 16 comments }

Gail May 16, 2011

Bailey,
What a wonderful post and a blessing to your Mother! I hope someday, my daughters will grow up to understand what you have, and that I will be a Mama who is there for them and seeks a relationship with them beyond the “I’m your Mom, that’s why” relationship. You have brought new perspective to me. I think I needed it this very day! Thank you for blessing me today with your post! God knows what we need at just the right time! 🙂

Deanna May 16, 2011

This is an excellent post!

Ashley Schnarr May 16, 2011

I really enjoyed this post! It was very well written. By God’s grace my mother and I are very close but I see how rare that is in this day and age. Thank you for encouraging all of us to begin or continue pursuing a good relationship with our mothers.

Anna May 16, 2011

This is a very good post, Bailey. I feel so sorry for the girls that don’t have strong relationships with their Mothers. A Mother is a gift, not a burden, we daughters need to remember that – and also that WE are supposed to be blessings (we are…but we sometimes forget to act like it.)

Julianne May 16, 2011

Such a great post! Your 7 suggestions you added were wonderful too. I read them from a mother’s point of view, and I know I can apply these ideas into my own relationship with my 8 year old daughter. Thank you so much for your post, I think it’s so great to hear from a daughter’s point of view!

Julianne May 16, 2011

How beautiful! I am so grateful for my mother and our close relationship. It deeply saddens me when I hear girls and women talk negatively about their mothers, or speak of their poor relationships with one another!

Heather May 16, 2011

What a beautiful post! It brought tears to my eyes. My daughter is still pretty young, and for the most part still loves helping and being around her Mama. But, sometimes I see the rebelliousness creeping in, and so we keep talking about it. I pray one day, she will have some of this wisdom for herself. Your words here are a true blessing to your mother – may God continue to bless your relationship with each other. Thank you for blessing us with your example.

deborah May 17, 2011

And if all else fails – just accept that you will never have a mother – daughter – friend etc… relationship. Sometimes we should just surrender, and accept that life doesn’t always give us what we want. Even when you wait 20 adult years with opportunities.

Betty May 17, 2011

Thank you for the beautiful post. Praise God that my daughter and I have an amazing relationship. She just graduated high school over the weekend and we have college looming in the near future, but our relationship just keeps getting stronger! I’ll be keeping your advice in my heart so that we can continue to stay close. We do a lot of these things naturally with each other, but it doesn’t hurt to make sure that we are intentional in our actions as well.

Amanda May 17, 2011

That was beautifully put. I am a mother, but I am also a daughter. I am very fortunate to have a wonderful relationship with my mom, she too, is my best friend. I had rebellious years in my teens, but I always respected my mom and she always kept in touch with me as well. She would ask me about what was going on in my life and listen to the answers and how I felt about all the silly things you think are really important in high school without judgment. She would let me make my own choices without forbidding me to do anything, but if I was leaning to a wrong decision (those little ones, I’m not talking about the life changing ones) she would gently guide me to see the light. I was very thankful that my mom compromised with me and in turn I respected her decisions and insight. I want to be that kind of mom to my daughter. She is only two, so our relationship is more structured right now, but I hope my daughter and I have as good a relationship as I do with my mom. There is a quotation/saying that I have always like for this subject…If you hold a handful of sand really tight in your fist it will slowly flow out of your hand and leave you forever, but if you hold it loosely and move it before it falls you can hold it in your hand forever. I think relationships are a lot like that. If you hold someone too tight, you lose it, but if you give them room to move then they will be with you forever.

Kristiana May 18, 2011

Thank you so much for posting this Bailey! I pray that the Lord will continually give my mum and I a wonderful relationship.

Many blessings,
Kristiana

Abbie May 21, 2011

Halleluja! Thank you Bailey for this post! Praise You God for how great You are, and what wonders You do!

Rachel Lynn May 21, 2011

What a beautiful post! I really would love to build a closer relationship with my Mother, I never put any effort into it when I was younger and now I am almost 16 and I wish we were closer. I really am going to try to work on that in the coming days. 🙂 Thanks for this encouraging post.
-Rachel Lynn

Alexxus May 27, 2011

Another great post from our dear Bailey. 🙂 I laughed when I read the first line of your post; not in a mocking way, but in a “I understand” way. My mom is my BFF, BFFL, and whatever else is used to describe a close bosom friend. And I used to hate my mom too – I bad mouthed her to every single friend I had, and treated her….well, let’s just say other friends did better. But God restored our relationship, and now, we are almost inseperable. 🙂

Patricia marengeur August 10, 2011

My Name is Paricia and i have not spoken with my daughter for one moth anf three days now. It,s killing me! We Had a terrible argument and hurtful words where said in both parts. Im the one who always gives in and calls her cuz she knows me well. This time i haven,t called and it,s slowly killing me (literlally) Yes i,m the mom and shes the daughter off 27 yrs. old I have bin asking God for help… But nothing has come yet. Any advice???? Desperately looking to restore our broken relationship. Patrcia

Sort of accepting November 23, 2011

I agree with Deborah – sometimes you just need to accept when it’s never gonna happen. I’m 34 now, and I’ll admit I’ve said or done some horrible things where my mother’s concerned, things I feel bad about and wish I hadn’t said or done due to the hurt they caused. After some counselling, I learned how to better cope at work and learned how to apply my learnings to our relationship. Things like acknowledging what a horrible teen I was, specifying some of the things I remember doing or saying and saying I’m sorry I put her through all that. Over time it seemed our bond grew again but I never shook the feeling that I /had/ to be the “better person” or else it would just deteriorate again. Eventually she apologized for a lot too… a huge weight off my shoulders which I know took a lot of courage for her to do. I thought for sure we were on the right track, even when things did seem sketchy at times. Recently, however, I overreacted horribly and now she’s on the defensive and won’t look at my hurt as anything but a personal attack on her with nothing founded in truth. I initially hurt because of something she said that was a lot like past things I felt hurt by. Now I hurt because she isn’t listening and refuses to acknowledge any of her own wrongdoing. I’ve already admitted that I overreacted and I’m sorry for that, but that I still desire an apology on her part. She doesn’t feel she should give me any apology at all and that if I don’t stop saying hateful things, we aren’t talking. I’ve agreed because I can’t go on like this… the only way I’ve ever sorted through this before is to apologize for telling her what was bothering me, and this time, I simply can’t; it goes against everything I believe and everything I’ve worked toward to become a better person, one that can cope in the world and get along with people without being completely walked all over. It seems to me that so long as I never, EVER question anything she does, we’re fine. She didn’t teach me that way, though; ironically, one of the greatest things she ever did teach me was to question everything. So I’m finally concluding that maybe it’s just not worth fighting that hard for anymore, especially if she’s willing to just write me off after all the struggles I’ve been through to make it work again. So to anyone else out there who feels hurt all the time by their moms, I’m here to say not all moms are these wonderful angelic beings with simple faults. Some of them have a LOT of faults and yeah, it’s damned near impossible to maintain a relationship. Telling you not to wear something revealing is a mom thing. Telling you you’re evil or laughing when you’re suffering is not a mom thing, it’s the mark of someone who has too much pain to share anything with you but pain, a few sarcastic laughs, and the occasional glimmer of hope that they’re proud of you. It’s taken me years to stop believing everyone when they say I’m the one that needs to try harder because she’s my mom and of course she loves me and how dare I be such a rotten daughter to not feel anything but thanks that she brought me into this world. I have come to think that I could kill myself trying and it still wouldn’t be enough. For those with awesome relationships, I am happy for you, and of course, wistful. I know it’s a struggle to swallow your pride even when things aren’t hideous so kudos to you for being strong enough to do it. Me, I sometimes identify with the Boy Named Sue. One thing I can say for my mom, I survived, and I survived because she instilled one heck of an independent streak in me. At least she knew to do that when she couldn’t be there for me.

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