If your daughter has constructed a moat around her heart — or if you fear she might — you must first make your request to the Heart-Keeper. No moat or barrier is too difficult for Him to overcome. Prayer is a key to accessing your daughter’s heart.

Author J. C. Ryle encouraged parents: "The Lord is far more willing to hear than we to pray; far more ready to give blessings than we to ask them — but He loves to be entreated for them. . . . I suspect the child of many prayers is seldom cast away."2  So let us, with faith and boldness, ask Him to restore or strengthen our mother-daughter relationships.

The Ingredients of a Mother-Daughter Friendship

Now this doesn’t mean we come with our fingers wagging and tell our daughters — you will be my friend whether you like it or not! As I once heard a pastor say, "Friendship is earned, not demanded." And friendship doesn’t mean that we relinquish our God-given authority. Rather, our authority is the foundation on which we are to build our friendship. The goal is to win our daughters’ hearts and affection so we can lead them in the ways of the Lord.

To earn their friendship, we must first earn their trust. We must approach our daughters with humility and ask questions. We can’t assume that we know the reasons they may keep us at arm’s length.

Maybe we have unwittingly offended them, or they are bitter over a decision we have made. Or perhaps their reaction is simply the consequence of a worldly view of mothers. In many cases their hearts may have grown proud. They may also fear what their friends would think about their hanging out with Mom. Or they might be unaware that their attitude and behavior have changed.

When I queried my daughters about their reasons for pushing me away, many of these answers came tumbling out. So we had some long and important conversations about my God-assigned role in their lives. We discussed why rejecting my influence was displeasing to God and would be to their detriment. I told them again and again how much I loved them and that I was eager to be their friend.

We had these conversations repeatedly over a period of time, until by God’s grace my daughters’ hearts began to turn toward me. Communication — constant talking — was indispensable in building a friendship with them. (We’ll look at five characteristics of effective communication next time.)

Nicole and Kristin also admitted that they disliked Afternoon Out because it frequently included correction of some kind. They were right. What I had intended to be a time for making fun mother-daughter memories had become a discipline session. So I needed to make a change. Humbly admitting that I was wrong was an entryway into my daughters’ hearts.

Daughters with Closed Hearts

Let me address a specific group of women for a moment — those who fear that the doors of their daughters’ hearts may have closed forever. Maybe they are grown and gone, or are still at home and yet seemingly their hearts are out of reach. If only I had heard these truths when my daughters were younger, you lament. Maybe things would have turned out differently. But now you fear it is too late.

This couldn’t be further from the truth. There is always hope. We serve a faithful God whose steadfast love never ceases and whose mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning (Lam. 3:22-23). Our Lord’s faithfulness should give you renewed courage and resolve to approach your daughter again.

Go in humility. Invite her to share her grievances. Ask for her forgiveness. Demonstrate God’s love to her in spite of her resistance. Although this may not be easy, you can trust that God will reward your efforts as a mother. He will receive glory from your faith and obedience to Him, and you will be a shining example of biblical womanhood to your daughter.

Make Your Relationship a High Priority

Finally, in order to bridge the moat that our daughters may have built (or to keep them from building one), we must make the mother-daughter relationship one of our highest priorities. After our relationship with God and our husbands, nothing should receive more attention, focus, and time.