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What I've Learned in My Daughter's 21 Years of Life

What I've Learned in My Daughter's 21 Years of Life

My daughter, the only child I have, recently turned 21 years old. Could it really have been that long since I heard her piercing scream and was told “It's a girl!"?

As I look back at how quickly the years have passed and all she has taught me (most of which is in my newest book, When a Mom Inspires Her Daughter,) I found myself reflecting on 21 things I’ve learned in the time God has allowed me to be her mom. (And I imagine many of these things might apply to having a son, too):

1. Children really do grow fast. (Psalm 90:12 reminds us of this when it instructs us to "number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom." How I wish I had numbered the days she was in diapers, needed to be bathed, had to be driven somewhere, and needed to go "school clothes shopping.")

2. There are times when our children would rather have us spend time with them, than do a bunch of things for them. (In other words, take time to play with them while they are still asking, and take time to be with them while they still want you around.)  

3. No manilla file folder is large enough for the pictures a little girl loves to color for her mother. (What I'd do today to get yet another hand-drawn picture of myself!)

4. Dress them in pink throughout their childhood, and they’ll never wear it again once they grow up! (I learned this sad truth the hard way.)

5. Nothing takes the place of a mom’s shoulder when her daughter’s heart is broken.

6. It’s not so difficult to have “that talk” when you start early.

7. A mom starts out as the single most influential person in her daughter’s life. Whether or not we retain that influence (or can reclaim it) is entirely up to us.

8. God cares even more about my daughter’s heart and spiritual condition than I do. So He’s working on it, even when I think I’m the only one that is.

9. There are times when it is wiser to talk to God about my daughter, than to talk to my daughter about God.

10. She will see the kind of wife and mother she wants (or doesn’t want) to be by what she sees  in her mom.

11. She is unique and I can’t expect her to act like me, dress like me, or have similar tastes and preferences.

12. Likewise, I can’t copy what she does, wears, or prefers or it will drive her crazy!

13. Our daughters get to an age where — no matter we say or do…or don't say or do — they will be embarrassed. (We were just like that when we were their age, too.)

14. The teenage years really CAN be easier than the pre-teen years.

15. When your daughter starts becoming a young lady, never say anything to her that you wouldn’t say to a girlfriend (think tone, critical comments, or anything that might embarrass her personally or publicly).

16. It’s natural for us to want to direct them toward OUR dreams for them. But it takes patience, prayer, and perseverance to guide them toward THEIR dreams.

17. There are times that our daughters need our encouragement and understanding MORE than they need our advice.

18. A mom and a daughter really CAN be close friends once she becomes a young woman.

19. Because actions speak louder than words, I must be the woman I want my daughter to become.

20. How well I respect my own mom will in many ways determine how well my daughter respects me.

21. As a follower of Christ, I am called and commanded to disciple others in the faith. But my daughter must be my first priority when it comes to discipleship.

Perhaps you can add to this list. What have your children (sons or daughters) taught YOU in the years you have been given the privilege to parent them?

Cindi McMenamin is a national women's conference and retreat speaker and the author of a dozen books, including When Women Walk Alone (more than 100,000 copies sold), When a Woman Inspires Her Husband, and When a Mom Inspires Her Daughter. For more on her books, ministry, and free resources, see her website: StrengthForTheSoul.com

Photo credit: GettyImages/Kikovic

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