Being a #girlmom isn’t easy. Being a #boymom obviously has its challenges and surprises, and you have to be super tough to be a boy mom. After all, you are raising boys who turn into men and lead the world, lead their families, and you have to somehow teach them to do it faster than at the pace of a snail.
But to be a girl mom, you have to know every possible emotion for all possible scenarios. You have to be prepared for them all. It’s fun, challenging, dramatic (in every sense of the word), terrifying, amusing, and invaluable. You might not be a girl mom, but you may one day be the girl mom-in-law. Nothing can take the place of a momma’s role in her daughter’s life, but there is a special place for any kind of momma in a girl’s life.
With that being said, here are a few things that I am learning and have learned along the way of being a girl mom:
Plan to spend time with her. Plan little dates just the two of you. Plan to get to know her and what she is up to. I have a friend who says that one of her favorite memories growing up was at bedtime where her mom would lay down with her every night and just talk. Everything was quiet and life had slowed down long enough for her to open up and have her mom’s attention.
Be a wall.
She needs you to be a constant, unchanging, and secure wall right now. She needs you to be strong. She needs you to not break or give in easily. She needs you to surround her with protection. She needs you to be able to take any blow that she might give. She needs you to stop her when the road she is on is leading her somewhere unsafe. She needs you to stand tall against her and her adversaries. She needs to see you there and see you weather any storm or drought and every rise or fall of an ever-changing environment. A tall and firm wall looks intimidating, but the view from the top or on the other side is totally worth the climb.
Earn her trust early. I read an article a few weeks after Audrey was born that changed the way I “mommed” her. The article said that even at a couple of weeks old she was learning to trust me. It sounded so silly to me but every time she cried out and I fed her, changed her diaper, rocked her, or whatever she needed I was actually sending her the message that she could trust me. It’s easy to view some of the stages of parenting as simply “survival of the fittest” but each stage validates a question and each stage is teaching her something about you and about herself. Even now, she looks to me to answer all her questions, meet her needs, and fill holes that if I don’t fill, someone else will. Our daughters will learn how to be relational, reactive, proactive, think, talk, and act from us, their moms. She will learn one way or another if she is worth fighting for, if she is valuable, and if she is beautiful. I want her to learn these things from me rather than any other source.
Be her surfboard.
Sounds funny, but you are going to have to “surf” through the waves of emotions that come with raising a girl. Let her cry. Girls cry. It’s what we do. Guys and dads just don’t get it, but that is why we have mommas. Mommas realize that as soon as you are finished crying, you’ll not even really be able to tell why you were crying in the first place but it was a big deal. Mommas are the only ones who know how good it feels to have a good cry and we can understand the twisty spaghetti noodles of a brain that us girls have and how every thought is connected to some type of emotion. Don’t shame her for needing to cry. It’s how we communicate so many things. Remember how growing up was for you. Remember the patience or lack of patience your mom had with you.
Be her night cap.
Wait up for her. When I was in high school and even into college, I knew my mom would be up and she would even be disappointed if I didn’t come straight in and sit down on the bed to tell her all about my evening. I’m sure much of it was a ploy to keep me coming in at a reasonable hour but it was something I grew to expect and treasure. It was a time where she would listen to a very long recount of the events of the night complete with all the drama and the “Can you believe she said…” or “He did…” lines. Sometimes she would just listen and be entertained and other times it would turn into a teachable moment. It was always in the wee hours of the night that she became a confidant, a sounding board, and provided rest for my sporadic teenage soul.
Be your biggest fan.
Love yourself and how you were made…emotionally and physically. There is no better way to help a young girl fall privy to the insecurities of this world than to send her mixed emotions about her body and her heart. There will be enough people in the world to tell her she is too much, too emotional, too fat, too skinny, too loud, too quiet, too everything that she doesn’t need to see it lived out in front of her every day. If you want her to love her body and love all that her heart and personality has to offer the world, then you must love yours too. Letting her see and hear you shame yourself physically and emotionally will only give way for doubt to rear its ugly head toward her too.
Be her GPS voice.
Begin with the end in mind and prepare her to leave you. Think about what kind of sister, friend, student, co-worker, wife, and mom you want her to be. What you do each day should prepare her for those roles. She is watching and listening to everything you do, good and bad. What you do in moderation, she will most likely do in excess. I hear my little girl talking, teaching, consoling, comforting, and yes even disciplining her baby dolls the exact same way I do all of those things with her. Many times I hear myself through her and I’m flattered, but there are times that cause me to recalculate my instructions. It puts many things in perspective as I teach her what is important in life. If you want your daughter to be a kind wife who loves her children unconditionally then don’t talk bad about your husband or treat her and her siblings like they’re a nuisance today. If you dream of her being successful at her job, teach her what it means to be a leader in the work place and among her peers. Teach her not to be dependent on social media and/or technology. Yes, we live in a tech-driven world, but picking up a good book or hand writing a card and making an actual phone call to her loved ones is a lost art and a gesture that will set her apart from her generation.
Teach her that it’s a wonderful thing to be strong and independent but that it’s ok to be vulnerable and to be rescued by our men too. Teaching this to her early in life lets her not carry the responsibility of the entire world on her shoulders as she gets older. It’s ok to ask for help, in fact, our dads and our husbands thrive when we need them. It’s ok to say no to things. Any tired wife or mom can attest that trying to control every aspect of life is exhausting.
When it’s time, begin to let her fly even when her flight takes twists and turns that you would not want or warned her of. Help her draw a line in the sand. Help her identify and stand firm on her non-negotiables. Teach her to let her yes be yes and her no be no and model this for her. This is a practice that will help her be taken seriously when it matters. Raising teen girls is like having a bunch of awesome puzzle pieces that you are handing to her to piece together. We all hand those pieces over in different ways. Some tell them exactly where to put the pieces. Others let them figure it out. Either way as moms there will come a day when we have to choose to be satisfied that the end result doesn’t rest with us. The end picture rests in her hands. She will have to decide what to do with what she has been handed.
As I wrote this article, I couldn’t help but think about the lines in the movie The Help that the hired help would always tell the daughter of the family she worked for. They would kneel down, get really close to her, and look her in the eyes (after all that’s how we know our girls are really listening) and say, “You is smart. You is kind. You is important.” As a woman there is something so comforting about hearing these things from someone close to you, and you can imagine the impact it would have on a young girl. But it always bothered me that her mom wasn’t the one saying it to her. I believe there are some things that a daughter can only learn from her momma. I want my daughter to get her drive, her confidence, her anticipation to take on all the amazing roles that a woman gets the chance to play from hearing me, her mom, tell her that she simply is enough and she can. I’m thankful for the mom who told me those things and want to play that irreplaceable role in my daughter’s life too.
For more encouragement for the #girlmoms, start here:
Why You Need to Talk to Your Teen Girl About Sex and How to Do It
Teaching Your Daughter How to Stand Out from the Crowd
10 Ways to Help Your Daughters Accept Their Bodies
Why Girls Aren’t Just “Drama” and How to Raise a Strong One
If Your Daughter Is Boy-Crazy, You Need to Read This
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You’ll enjoy this podcast episode from This Grit and Grace Life: How Can You Raise Great Girls? Darlene’s Daughters Tell All – 054!