I just finished reading, Mothers Who Can’t Love, by Susan Forward, Ph.D. and Donna Frazier Glynn. Over the course of fourteen chapters, I met moms who were overtly enmeshed in their daughter’s lives; they were narcissists, control freaks, abusive, neglectful, and in need of mothering, themselves; I heard the broken hearts of their daughters and what they desperately wanted from their moms while growing up, yet never received. While each story was disheartening, the author of the book provided great tools for each to find healing and hope. Great read!
As I read this book, I couldn’t help but ask, “What does a daughter need from her mom?” She needs love, yes, but what does love look like when it is lived out?
While a lot of what I’m going to share with you would certainly apply to a son, I want to focus on our daughters. In a little different format than I usually write, I want to show you what daughters need from their mothers through a fictional account I wrote about a mother and her four girls.
With endless energy and boundless courage, five-year-old Ruthie climbs to the top of the slide and says, “Look Mommy! I climbed to the top of the slide. Watch me go down? Catch me!” Mom, bright-eyed and excited to see her daughter conquer the slide of triumph waits at the bottom to catch her little girl in her loving arms, and exclaims, “What a brave girl you are! I’m so proud of you!” Ruthie laughs with great joy.
Watching her sister accomplish her great feat, three-year-old Julie tries to climb to the top of the slide too. Falling and scraping her elbow, she begins to cry as Mom rushes to her side, kisses her elbow, snuggles her closely and assures her that she can still go down the slide. “Let’s go down together,” Mom whispers in Julie’s ear! Mom holds her daughter tightly, and down they go with giggles and squeals of total delight. The boo-boo is all better, and the mishap is forgotten because Mommy came to the rescue! Julie feels safe in Mommy’s arms.
Later that afternoon, Sarah, Ruthie and Julie’s older sister of 14, wants to help mom in the kitchen. She loves to cook with her mom! In her eyes, mom can whip up the most amazing food for dinner, and Sarah wants to be just like her. While time is scarce, and dinner needs preparing quickly, Mom doesn’t give into the urgency of other things, she comes up with a simple meal and teaches Sarah how to cook something savory that will satisfy all the taste buds sitting around the table. At the end of dinner, Mom shares with the whole family that Sarah is such a good cook! Sarah beams with pride!
As the evening winds down, and the younger girls are in bed, 17-year old Samantha, the oldest of all, is trying to study for her Chemistry Exam; frustrated with the last problem, she fears she will fail the test tomorrow. Mom comes to the table carrying Samantha’s favorite cookies and some milk, and asks, “Can I help you?” Samantha doesn’t want help, she is an independent teen and replies, “No, Mom, I want to figure it out myself.” Mom heads to the next room, giving her daughter space. It’s getting late, Samantha, feeling discouraged all the more, finally enters the other room asking, ‘Will you help me with this problem, Mom?” Off Mom goes to work with her daughter until late in the evening. Thankfully, the problem is solved! Mom hugs her daughter and says, “You are going to do great tomorrow! Give it your best and let God do the rest, and remember, I’m praying for you!” Samantha sleeps in confidence.
The story we just read reveals a mom giving her daughters what they need to feel loved and cherished. While not exhaustive, it will provide us with some insight.
Was Involved. She participated in each girl’s interest and provided for their needs.
Was Affirming. With words, she encouraged and applauded her daughters for their accomplishments.
Was Protective. She rescued them, prayed for them, and ensured that she was there for them.
Was A Leader. She taught them, empowered them to succeed for themselves, and she did so with kindness and patience.
Gave Her Girls Space. She gave them space to grow, to learn, to figure things out on their own, yet, all within their age-appropriate abilities.
Was Reassuring. In the face of struggle, she reminded them of their ability and encouraged them in their faith.
Was Selfless. Her daughters came first above her own needs and wants. She sacrificially served them with her attentive presence.
In all she did, she was a model of Jesus for them (Philippians 2) Besides the loving responses that I just described, moms need to be an example for their daughters to follow. Daughters want to be like their moms. A good mom with the vision to mold her daughter into a woman of God will do so with gentleness and sacrificial love; she will serve in such a way that her daughter will learn, by watching not just hearing, how to become that woman.
I read a quote on Pinterest about motherhood, “Giving birth makes you a mother, yes. But it’s what you do with your child after they’re born, throughout their lives, that makes you a mom.” Giving birth is not easy, it takes serious strength and endurance to deliver a baby, yet, it’s only a few hours compared to the love a mom demonstrates to her child for the rest of their life.
A good mom is not perfect but she does emulate very specific qualities, for the wisdom of Proverbs describes: she is “is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future. When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness. She carefully watches everything in her household and suffers nothing from laziness. Her children stand and bless her. Her husband praises her: ‘There are many virtuous and capable women in the world, but you (mom) surpass them all!’ (Proverbs 31:25-29 emphasis added).