Being Her Mom Instead of Her Friend
- 2011 7 Feb
My daughter is fourteen. Fourteen is a tough year, if you recall. She and I joke that fourteen and forty are difficult emotional ages, so we're riding the feelings roller coaster together.
She's a bright, beautiful, creative, hilarious girl, and she drives me crazy and I love her to death all at the same time. But right now, she's struggling a bit. I can tell that she can tell something's off but she can't put her finger on it, so I stepped in on her behalf. I had this picture in my mind of her sort of free falling, arms flailing. And I felt as if God were telling me to be the one to hold her tight, to give her security and a safe place to land.
As she's getting older, I'm trying to give her more freedom. My job now is to prepare her for living on her own in this big, scary world. But I felt God leading me to put some things in place for her and tell her she had to do them. This is the opposite of what felt comfortable for me to. "Honey, I know you don't necessarily want to do this and this and this, but you're going to do this and this and this…ummm, because I said so." Gulp.
But I prayed for softened words from me and a softened heart for her, and I sat her down, and I asked her a series of questions that I felt God wanted me to ask her, like:
- Do you believe that God loves you and wants the best for you?
- Do you understand that God gave me to you to help guide you through the beginning of your life?
- Do you realize that though you're fourteen and can definitely have more decision-making freedom, that I am still your mom and may need to enforce certain things for your benefit and because I care deeply about you?
- Do you believe that I love you?
- Do you trust me?
She answered yes to these and some others, and then I said, "Okay, then, you will do this and this and this, for the following reasons..." I braced myself. I was prepared for her to be angry with me for about six months. I even told her, "You can be totally mad at me; but you're still doing these things." (Let me add here that the things I told her to do are all things that are truly for her own good, truly healthy, godly things.) She looked at me. She said, "I'm kinda mad at you." Then she said she was going to take her shower, but could we work on some crafts when she was done. I took that as a hugely good sign.
What I saw in the hours and days that followed was relief. I truly believe that she were wishing someone would step in and be her strength in a time of uncertainty. She has even told me this week that I'm the best thing that's ever happened to her. And she told me that though she was upset at first, she totally gets that I want what's best for her, so she's okay with my decisions. I love that girl.
This week, I wasn't my daughter's friend. But I was her advocate. And her protector. And her supporter. In other words, I was her mother. It's easier to be the friend, trust me. But our children need us to be their mothers, even when it's hard.
(c) Elisabeth K. Corcoran, 2011
Elisabeth is the author of He Is Just That Into You: Stories of a Faithful God who Pursues, Engages, and Has No Fear of Commitment (WinePress), In Search of Calm: Renewal for a Mother's Heart (Xulon), and Calm in My Chaos: Encouragement for a Mom's Weary Soul (Kregel). All of her books can be purchased on Amazon or through her website at www.elisabethcorcoran.com.
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