How to Inspire Your Daughter
- Friday, October 18, 2013
Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Cindi McMenamin's new book, When a Mom Inspires Her Daughter (Harvest House, 2013).
As a mother, you have more God-given potential to inspire your daughter than anyone else has. The task can be quite daunting, though, because of the emotional challenges of a mother-daughter relationship, in which both of you are so alike and yet so different all at once.
Thankfully, with God’s help, you can navigate those challenges well – even if your relationship with your daughter is currently rocky – and experience the joy of drawing closer to your daughter while helping her draw closer to God.
Here’s how you can inspire your daughter:
Start with prayer. Ask God to give you the desire and wisdom to be the best mother you can be for your daughter from this point on. Pray for the Holy Spirit to work in your life and your daughter’s life to help you both grow into the people God wants you to become. Then make it a habit to pray for your daughter often.
Understand yourself, your daughter, and your own mother better. Reflect on what your values are as a mom, and why. Study your daughter to learn more about what’s important to her, and why. Consider how your relationship with your mother while you were growing up has shaped the way you relate to your daughter now. Ask God to help you heal from whatever your mother may have done to disappoint or hurt you, and to help you be at peace with your mother (or her memory, if she has already passed away), so you’ll be free to make a fresh start in your relationship with your daughter.
Figure out what your daughter needs the most from you. Focus on giving your daughter the love and support that’s crucial to her growth by: letting her know that she’s a high priority in your life, helping her feel a sense of acceptance and a strong emotional connection with you, helping her build a solid spiritual foundation, allowing her to fail and make mistakes so she can learn from the experiences, serving as the best possible role model for your daughter by living with integrity and growing in holiness, and pursuing whatever healing you need to be emotionally stable so you won’t burden your daughter with emotional loads God doesn’t intend for her to bear. Most of all, aim to love your daughter the way that God loves you – unconditionally – and ask God to empower you to do so every day.
Use your words well. Keep in mind that the words you communicate (both through speaking and writing) contain great power to influence your daughter either negatively or positively. Ask God to give you the self-control you need to avoid criticizing your daughter unless doing so is absolutely necessary – and then, direct your criticism toward your daughter’s behavior rather than toward your daughter as a person (just as Jesus hates sin but loves sinners). Pray for the help you need to develop a habit of building your daughter up with positive words. Take advantage of the many opportunities you have to use your words to encourage your daughter so she can bloom to her full potential.
Give your daughter the gift of your time. Intentionally make time in your schedule to spend time with your daughter often, because doing so lets her know that she is important to you, which is crucial to your relationship. Be willing to make whatever sacrifices you need to make to be able to spend as much time as you possibly can with your daughter. Look for opportunities to do something special with her (such as going on outings like concerts, lunches, hikes, and shopping, or participating in a Bible study together) and cut out distractions (such as by turning off your cell phone) when you’re with her so you can truly listen to her when she shares her thoughts and feelings with you.
Take an interest in your daughter’s world. Get to know all of the parts of your daughter’s life and what they’re like. Make sure you know her friends, as well as her friends’ parents. Watch the movies and television shows she watches and listen to the music she enjoys. Ask her about school every day, and stay in touch with her teachers. Help her focus only on the extracurricular activities that she does best, and let the rest go so she won’t be too stressed to be in optimal health (emotionally, physically, and spiritually). Ask her often for specific ways you can pray for her, and follow up later to ask how she’d doing in the areas about which you’d prayed. Whenever your daughter decides to talk with you about anything, get rid of distractions so you can listen carefully to her.
Encourage her to dream. Look for activities your daughter is most interested in and is particularly good at doing. Then encourage her to pursue those activities to discover and begin working toward God’s dreams for her life. Pray often that God will align your daughter’s dreams with His plans for her, and make those best dreams come true in her life.
Prepare her for life. As your daughter grows, teach her to be less dependent on you and more dependent on God. Make it your goal to help your daughter become a woman who will seek God’s wisdom for her decisions, financially support herself, and be able to do the practical tasks necessary to manage all aspects of her life well (from completing household chores to maintaining her health). Teach her how to be self-controlled and pure, overcome her fears, deal with difficulties, and love others even in challenging situations. Affirm her uniqueness, femininity, and independence.
Choose your battles well. It’s not worthwhile to argue about everything about which you and your daughter disagree; doing so will cause so much stress that it will significantly damage your relationship with her. Instead, carefully choose which issues are worth battling over by asking these key questions: “Is it illegal?”, “Is it immoral?”, and “Is it sinful?” If so, it’s worth speaking up about the issue, but don’t overreact and remain calm when discussing it with your daughter. If not (as in the case of personal preferences that differ between you), ask God to help you let it go.
Guide her spiritually. Ask God to help you become the kind of woman you want your daughter to grow up to become. Mentor your daughter spiritually be participating in church together, reading and discussing the Bible with her, praying with her, talking with her about how God is working in your life, modeling a life of faith in action for her (one in which you live with integrity and trust God in the midst of struggles), and loving her as God does: unconditionally.
Become her best friend as she grows up. When your daughter enters the teen years, start to make the transition from being her parent to being her best friend (which is the best relationship you can have with her once she reaches adulthood).
Adapted from When a Mom Inspires Her Daughter: Affirming Her Identity and Dreams in Every Stage of Life, copyright 2013 by Cindi McMenamin. Published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, Or., www.harvesthousepublishers.com.
Cindi McMenamin an award-winning writer and national speaker, is the author of When Women Walk Alone (more than 100,000 copies sold) and Letting God Meet Your Emotional Needs. As a pastor's wife, director of women's ministries, and Bible teacher, her passion is to bring women into deeper intimacy with God. Cindi lives in Southern California with her husband, Hugh, and daughter, Dana.
Whitney Hopler, who has served as a Crosswalk.com contributing writer for many years, is author of the new Christian novel Dream Factory, which is set during Hollywood's golden age. Visit her website at: whitneyhopler.naiwe.com.
Publication date: October 18, 2013
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