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
Art: Mother and Child by Frederick Leighton