The Friday before Mother's day, I gave a talk on my perspective on the mother/daughter relationship, and I thought I'd share it will all my followers here! It's rather long, but I hope you enjoy it!
Mothers and Daughters, Walking Side by Side
By Ruth Einfeld
Given on 5/7/2010
I would like to share with you my heart for mothers and daughters tonight. I am sharing with you what God has taught me over the
years, and is still teaching me today. I have prayed that our time tonight
will bless you in your roles as mothers and daughters and I hope you will be
able to find something to take home with you to enrich your mother/daughter
Before I start, I have a little disclaimer to make...in order to make quotes
more appropriate for our subject, I have taken the liberty to change a few
pronouns to the feminine where appropriate.
I believe a mother/daughter relationship is probably one of the most
critical relationships of any woman, young or old, and I am sure it is one
of the most influential, for good or for bad. It is certainly the first
relationship in life, beginning in the womb. Today, many mothers know they
are carrying a baby girl before she is born, often naming them with their
favorite girl name long before she holds their precious baby girl. For most
women, no matter their age, their mother is still the first person they will
seek out when they have good news to share, and the first person they will
call when a trial comes their way, to find comfort and advice.
As a young girl, all my dolls were girl-babies. "Virginia" and "Elizabeth"
were my favorite names for my baby dolls... I loved dressing up my baby
dolls in frilly dresses and fixing their hair in pretty fashionable
hair-dos. I even remember saying when I was a little girl, that if I didn't
have any baby girls, I would have to adopt at least one! I desired to
someday have a daughter even way back then!
But is motherhood all about dressing your daughter in ribbons and bows,
party dresses and fancy shoes, and teaching her about fashionable hairdos
and stylish make up? Is being a daughter all about learning what it takes to
be admired, keeping up with the latest fashion, and attending the right
social functions? Is the mother/daughter relationship intended to be just a
personal, one on one, charm course? Let's see what Proverbs 31:30 says
about charm and beauty...
"Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain,
But the woman who fears the Lord shall be praised"
I would like to take you ladies on a trip tonight...a fly-over, if you will,
through the stages of a mother/daughter relationship. But this will be no
ordinary view, because we are going to be wearing special "rose color
glasses" that will enable us to look beyond appearances and actions, to look
at the heart of a mother/daughter relationship...the spiritual nurturing of
a daughter, the mentoring of a future wife, mother, and homemaker, and the
developing a loving mother/daughter relationship that will last a lifetime.
These glasses will focus on the finish line, the end result God desires for
all women...a heart for God and an imperishable inner beauty...as Jeannie
Bargen said at the woman's retreat, a "God Loving Woman". A woman capable
of leaving a godly legacy.
So let's put on those 'Rose Colored Glasses' and stand back, looking at the
entire length of a mother/daughter relationship, watching as the daughter
grows and matures...it begins with the conception and birth of a precious
baby girl, followed by infancy, girlhood, young womanhood, and culminating
in womanhood...as we look across the time line, there are no distinct
divisions between the stages, each stage gradually grows out of the previous
one. Picture with me a gentle rolling hillside, the mother and daughter are
walking hand in hand...they can look behind them and remember what they have
experienced together so far in the journey, the lessons that were learned
along the way, and they can look ahead and see some of the terrain ahead,
preparing and equipping for what is coming as much as possible. But the
changes along the way are gradual and at times imperceptible.
Today I would like to break down the stages of the mother/daughter
relationship into 4 basic stages, using our 'rose colored glasses' that
allow us to look at the heart, the inner development of a mother/daughter
relationship that is focused on the end result of producing a friendship to
last a lifetime, a capable home-maker, and a God Loving Woman.
Infancy - A mother and daughter beginning side by side
I love to see old drawings of a young mother holding her infant close to her
heart. What a precious time infancy is. In the quiet of the night, rocking
and singing to your precious baby girl. For simplicity's sake, I'm going to
include a daughters first few years in this stage.
During these formative years, a mother moves from caring for her baby girl
who is completely dependent on her for everything...on through the
development of skills that enable the daughter to do more and more for
herself...feeding, getting dressed, using the bathroom, and other basic
skills. A mother also has to begin the process of instructing her little
girl her place in her family and the world. As most of us know, babies and
toddlers are convinced that they are the center of the universe. In
Shepherding a Child's Heart, Tedd Trip says it well...
"Acquaint your children with authority and submission when they are infants.
This training starts the day you bring them home from the hospital. These
lessons, firmly established in early years, will yield fruit throughout
childhood. Establish these principles and eliminate the need to have
repeated contests over authority."
This is the time that mothers need to begin to plant God's word in their
daughter's heart, to fill her heart and mind with the truths of God and His
love for her. Deuteronomy chapter 6 tells us why we should do this as well
as how to do this:
You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul
and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall
be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall
talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and
when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on
your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write
them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
These early years are critical for teaching our tiny daughters right and
wrong - that her mommy and daddy are her authority figures, and that they
were given that authority by God Himself - using God's word day in and day
out as the foundation for instruction and discipline. This is commanded by
God. We are to teach our young children the truths about God that will be a
foundation to build on as they grow and mature in their understanding..
But we need to do more than correct their behavior, because as Jesus said in
Luke 6:45 "For out of the heart the mouth speaks." So as our little baby
girls grow, what is in their heart will begin to show in their speech and
actions, and it will become quite evident that Solomon knew what he was
talking about when he said in Proverbs 22:15: "Foolishness is bound up in
the heart of a child". Even at this beginning stage of motherhood, we need
to be looking ahead to girlhood and laying a foundation to build on when the
time comes. This goes beyond teaching a little girl to care for herself and
outward obedience though...a mother needs to address the heart of the child.
Mr Trip points out,
"A change in behavior that does not stem from a change of heart is not
commendable; it is condemnable. Is it not the hypocrisy that Jesus condemned
in the pharisees? ...Jesus denounces the Pharisees who honored Him with
their lips while their hearts were far from Him. Jesus censures them as
people who wash the outside of the cup while the inside is still unclean.
Yet this is what we often do in child rearing. We demand changed behavior
and never address the heart that drives the behavior"
This early time in a child's life is the best time to teach them of God, His
great love for them, and show them the foolishness in their
hearts...creating a God-ward focus that is the perfect soil for planting
God's Word in their hearts during the next stage, girlhood.
Girlhood - A mother and daughter talking side by side
Girlhood is such a wonderful time. A time of learning, growing and
preparing. But for mothers, it is a time of training and bonding, as we
shall see through our rose colored glasses.
As daughters pass through the years of girlhood, mothers must take care to
guide, teach and correct them. Take time to teach you daughter some basic
skills... baking, cooking, sewing, child care...skills that she'll need
someday. Maybe even take time to learn a skill with your daughter that you
never learned but wanted to - flower arrangement, crocheting, knitting,
gardening, learn to decorate a room together, take a cake decorating class
together, discover a new hobby you can do together......but I recommend that
the focus be on home making skills. Something that enhances your home and
Time spent together doing something you both enjoy has farther reaching
effects than just a skill learned though - it will also bond their
daughter's heart to theirs. Michael and Debby Pearl explain this best in To
Train Up A Child,
"There is a mystical bond between caring members of a family. ... It is as
if we were joined by many strings of mutual love, respect, honor, and all
the good times that we have had together. The more good experiences we have
together, the more strings that unite.
The strings that unite are often cut by selfishness, indifference, pride,
self-will and the like. Where there is not a constant tying of new strings,
family members soon find themselves separated by suspicion, distrust and
criticism. The gap can grow so wide that the two can become virtual enemies.
When this happens between a parent and child, it is a serious crisis. Unless
new strings are tied, the two will increasingly grow apart....
It is important that ... daughters can trust their parents with personal,
intimate knowledge. If there is a barrier in this area, when the time comes
that the young woman needs counsel, to whom shall she go? The feelings of a
child are just as important and sacred as those of an adult. Always treat
your children with respect. Never ridicule, mock or laugh at your child's
ideas, creation or ambitions. The trust you desire to have when they are
older must be established and maintained when they are young. If you have an
older child with whom you have failed in this area, it is not too late to
apologize and reestablish that trust."
Because we are not perfect, there will be broken strings caused by our
actions, re-actions, or in-actions. We need to purposely keep the hearts of
our children bound to ours. Also be willing to admit when you have sinned
against your daughter in action or in word, and ask for her
forgiveness...they will certainly not think less of you, on the contrary,
you will set the example for her of confessing sins, finding forgiveness and
restoring relationships. This will equip her in her relationships with God,
family and friends throughout her life.
The best way to strengthen your relationship with your daughter is to build
it up day by day, take time to have fun with your daughter...play games,
read together, have mommy/daughter dates, bake together,...anything that you
both enjoy, do it together to strengthen the bond in your relationship to
JC Ryle said, "Kindness, gentleness, long-suffering,forbearance, patience,
sympathy, a willingness to enter into childish troubles, a readiness to take
part in childish joys - these are the cords by which a child may be lead
most easily - these are the clues you must follow if you would find the way
to her heart."
During Girlhood, we, as mothers, have possibly the best opportunity to draw
our daughter's heart to God. If we use the times of correction and
discipline to address the heart issues, we will teach far more than just
appropriate behavior. Remember, as Mr Trip said, "A change in behavior that
does not stem from a change in heart is not commendable, it is condemnable."
But how can we change our daughter's heart? We can't, but God can. What we
can do is show our daughters their need of a Savior through loving
discipline that points to God and His love for them. Physical discipline
alone will not accomplish this, as Proverbs 29:15 says "The rod AND reproof
give wisdom, but a child who gets her own way brings shame to her mother." I
looked up reproof, and it's root word is reprove, which means to gently
correct. So be sure that when correction is needed, you address the heart,
where the sin began, and the need for confession and asking for forgiveness,
so they will recognize disobedience as sin - against man and God - that they
may see their need for a Savior and that their hearts may be drawn to their
I would also like to encourage you mothers to actively disciple your
daughters. This is an area that I have not done very well in, but have
recently begun to do, and I am really enjoying my time with my girls as we
are reading through Beautiful Girlhood together. I have also attended
several Bible Studies with Jessica over the last couple of years, as well as
the Women's Retreats, and we have enjoyed learning together about becoming
women of God. I highly recommend Beautiful Girlhood Raising Maiden's of
Virtue and A Woman After God's Own Heart, as tools for discipling your
daughters. I have put a list of books that I have enjoyed and found helpful
on the back of the outlines you were given!
As we transition from talking about girlhood to talking about Young
Womanhood, let me share with you girls something from Beautiful Girlhood:
"The awakening comes suddenly. Not that you will know the day or the week
when the change comes, nor will you be conscious of the miracle in your
nature, but the things of childhood will slip away. The little girl in you
loses interest in her play-world. You who once played whole days with your
dolls now leave them in their little beds whole weeks at a time. One day you
will say, "Mother, I do not play with these dolls anymore, and I have a mind
to put them away, for they take up so much room." Then Marguerite and
Rosemary and Abigail will be dressed nicely, and with a last loving pat will
be tucked away in a box or old trunk in the attic, left to themselves while
their little mother is hurrying away to the land of "grown-ups." Your mother
looks on with dismay as she sees these changes for she knows that her little
girl is getting away from her and that she must make room in her heart and
life for the young woman developing before her eyes. She would put it off a
little longer, for she will miss her little daughter, her baby girl; but
even mother-love cannot stay the hand of time....
The child will become a woman at last. You slipped into girlhood naturally,
and just as naturally you will lay aside girlish ways and settle into
Young Womanhood - A mother and daughter working side by side
...that wonderful time between the bud of girlhood and the full-bloom of
womanhood. The teenage years, as it is called today. "It was the best of
times, it was the worst of times..." In our world, this is a time dreaded by
all mothers, a time of rebellion...for teenagers it is a time of living for
today, living for yourself...but in God's economy it is not a time to be
wasted on trivial pursuits. Let's take a look at this time in a young
woman's life through our 'rose colored glasses'.
This is a time when a mother begins allowing her daughter to begin to be
more responsible. This is a long process of allowing your daughter to make
some decisions for herself, like how to decorate her room, or how she wants
to spend her free time or money... as her level of maturity warrants, while
advising her along the way. And following up later to talk about the results
of the actions taken, to learn from both the good and bad that resulted. It
is a gradual expanding of the responsibilities that the daughter has,
combined with the ability and privilege to make her own choices, under the
guidance of her mother and father. This is the training ground for a young
women to begin to learn the art of godly submission as well. It's a
balancing act! A balance of doing things she enjoys, ministering to others,
honoring her parents and learning to make godly decisions as opportunities
present themselves. A big mistake I see well meaning parents make is to
continue to control the lives of their children too long, and this breeds
resentment that, when allowed to fester, will usually end in rebellion and
potentially in the destruction of the mother/daughter relationship.
During this stage, mothers should continue to enjoy their daughters - begin
to develop your future friendship with them. Play games, go to events
together, make memories, find activities or hobbies you both enjoy and do
them together. These are the ties that will bond your hearts together for a
life time. Keep short accounts with your daughter, building the heart
strings, and repairing them as needed.
During girlhood, a foundation was built of basic skills that can, during
this time, be developed into mature skills your daughter needs to become a
godly help-meet someday. Cleaning their bedroom and doing their own laundry
can now be developed into all the skills needed to maintain a pleasant and
orderly home: baking cookies and flipping pancakes can be developed into
meal planning and preparing, reading the Bible daily can be developed into
meaningful, personal quiet time, obedience to parents can be developed into
learning to submit to God and her father, and later to her husband, and a
god-ward focus of their hearts develops into a full awareness of their need
Let's take a look at what Beautiful Girlhood says about this time of
transition and how our daughter's spiritual walk develops during this stage,
"When a girl reaches the age of being accountable to God, she has begun to
feel the need of higher help in order always to have strength to do right.
She looks with a new questioning upon the conduct of others, of even her
parents, and sees in the lives of those about her a lack of true conduct or
motive,and finds in herself an inability to do what she knows she should do,
and the only help must come from One who is stronger and better than all.
This change of attitude toward God does not come instantly, but as the trees
bud and leaf in the spring, every day bringing a gradual change until they
stand in full leaf, so the girl week by week develops and gains knowledge
and experience until she stands a woman grown before her God. At first
there are only glimpses of character and purpose to which she wishes to
attain, then she understands fully what her duty is before God.
And as she sees her duty clearer and clearer before God she realizes more
and more her shortcomings. Then comes the natural cry of her heart for God,
the longing of her soul for help from above.
The young heart thus first really awake to its needs finds the simple story
of the cross and the power of Christ to save easily comprehended and
embraced. The mind has not been filled with doubts and questionings that
often hinder those who are older, and the truths of Christianity are quickly
grasped. This is the time when the great portion of those who in later life
become true, earnest Christians begin their service and feel the first touch
of divine forgiveness."
I'm sorry, are we really talking about the teenage years? Reality check...
none of what I have shared with you about young womanhood sounds anything
like the world's view of being a teenager, does it? But remember, we are
wearing our special 'rose colored glasses' today - Looking at
mother/daughter relationships in the light of the inner woman...Let me read
to you Romans 12:1,2
"Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your
bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your
spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be
transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the
will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect."
That doesn't sound anything like a typical American teenage girl either!
This critical time in a young girl's life is a time to help our daughters to
see our world through the corrective lens of the Word of God. To help them
see that the world is telling them to find fulfillment, have their needs
met, and that they deserve to "have it all." Mothers need to show their
daughters that these are lies straight from the devil, designed to trap them
in a life focused on self and having all needs met...but in God's economy,
our life purpose is to glorify Him and serve others...to meet the needs of
others...in Phi 2:3 & 4, Paul says,
"Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind
regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out
for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. "
God's Word tells us the He will meet all our needs, our job is to put Him
first in all we say and do, and leave the rest up to Him...In Matt 6, Jesus
is telling his followers not to worry about food or clothing or anything,He
said, "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these
things will be added to you." Mothers, strive to live out your life as an
example of a transformed life, a life of complete trust in God for
everything, because the young women in your home will be far more influenced
by your actions and lifestyle than your words...and whenever possible, use
God's Word as your ultimate authority to lead and guide your daughter into
Womanhood - A mother and daughter living side by side.
So, at last, we have come to the last stage of mother/daughter
relationships, womanhood... There will come a time that the relationship of
a mother and daughter will slowly slip into more and more of a friendship,
especially if the mother has taken care in the preceding years to keep the
heart of her daughter closely bonded to her own.
The mother/daughter relationship at this stage will involve doing lots of
things together, side by side...during young womanhood, the mother helped
the daughter to learn, now the daughter can be the mother's helper in the
home - helping with her younger siblings with school, taking over
responsibility for portions of the work around the home, possibly starting a
home business with her mother, running errands, taking siblings to
activities...and things like that.
This is also the time of fruition of the gradual change in the relationship
that started in infancy...the growth from complete dependence of a daughter
on her mother for all her needs, to the mother as her authority and teacher,
to the mother slowly coming down from the authority position to that of one
coming alongside her daughter. This is a gradual process, yet a necessary
process, and best done slowly over the course of years.
The time when a young woman has reached maturity, yet remains at home is a
precious time. One of deepening friendship blended with mentoring and
discipling. Titus 2: 1 - 5 gives us a great description of what mentoring
is...let's apply this to the mother/daughter relationship -
"You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine. Teach the older men
to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in
love and in endurance. Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the
way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach
what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands
and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be
kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the
word of God."
Mentoring is when an older woman comes alongside a younger woman, teaching
her to be godly woman, glorifying God in her home and relationships.
Hopefully, at this point, many of the skills have already been learned, and
this is a time of "filling in the blanks" and working to refine the skills
already learned. A time of
spiritual growth, serving God unreservedly. This is a time of purposeful
singleness, as the young woman prepares and waits on God's timing and choice
for her future.
A wonderful opportunity open to a young single woman during this time is
that of outreach and ministry. There are many opportunities to minister in
the body of Christ as well as in your community. Woman who are married and
have children have many pulls on their time and energy, but a single young
woman may have more free time and energy to serve others. Many of the young
women in our church are doing just that - volunteering at the pregnancy
center, helping mothers in the church who have many young ones, teaching
young children at church...you just need to look around. When you see a need
that you have the skills to do, or want to learn, and feel God's leading in
that direction, you should meet that need!
A woman still living in her parents home can also begin to gather the things
she wants to have in her home someday...how many girls here have a hope
chest? How many would like to have one? As you find things you like, you can
tuck them away, you could even request things for your birthdays and at
Christmas...you can put all kinds of things in there - kitchen gadgets,
special wall hangings, rugs, special things from your childhood that you
want to pass on to your own daughter someday...
And then someday, in God's perfect will and timing, the right young man (or
not so young...) may come along and your daughter may begin her own journey
into being a wife and mother...and the mother/daughter relationship will one
more time, become something more - that of shared experiences. The daughter
learns firsthand to care for her husband and home, and, when the blessings
arrive, her children as well. The mother now becomes a helper to her
daughter once again, coming along side the daughter helping her with her new
home and family and bonding even further as they live side by side. The
friendship that began many years ago is now fully developed to last a
In closing, let's look back at the life cycle of a mother/daughter
relationship as we've seen it today, through our special 'rose colored
Infancy, mother and daughter beginning side by side - that special bonding
time as well as critical time of creating a ground work of understanding
that her parent's authority comes from God.
Girlhood, mother and daughter talking side by side - a wonderful time of
teaching and learning, growing inside and out, a time for a mother to build
a the foundation on the groundwork placed in infancy, a foundation of
god-ward focus, learning skills, and the bonding of hearts.
Young Womanhood, mother and daughter working side by side - a time of
developing the foundations laid into fully matured skills and knowledge that
will equip her to be a godly woman, wife, and mother, and finding friendship
as a mother and daughter.
Womanhood - mother and daughter living side by side - the fruition of years
of preparation, godly women living together in the bond of friendship to
last a lifetime.
I believe that our daughter's years at home should be purposeful years.
Years of building skills and wisdom in order to prepare for godly womanhood.
Did I learn this when I was growing up? No, but I wish this was something
taught back then. I was ill prepared to take on the roll of wife and
homemaker. I was selfish and self-centered - expecting my husband to meet
all my needs and expectations - and I was basically clueless as to running a
household, I could cook a few dishes, but I'd never washed dishes or ran a
dishwasher, I'd had the responsibility to keep the bathroom tidy, but never
did a good job of that even!...I was a Christian, but I had no idea how to
be a godly wife and helpmeet. Let me ask you - How many of you mothers were
well equipped to become godly wives and mothers? Raise you hands... How
many of you were not, and wish your mother had known to prepare and disciple
Think of all that our daughters can accomplish in their lives with a
foundation like what I've shared with you today...Daughters, you can make
such a difference in your sphere of influence if you use your young
womanhood years to purposefully prepare to be a God Loving Woman. God can
and will use you!
Remember what Proverbs 31:30 told us? that "Charm is deceitful and beauty is
vain, But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised." And now let's
look at I Peter 3: 3, 4 - "Your adornment must not be merely external -
braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses, but let
it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a
gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God."
Young ladies, does that sound like what our culture values? Mothers, is
your mothering focusing on preparing your young women to be godly women? I
believe one of the greatest battlegrounds today is the spiritual battle for
the hearts of our young women, for they are the ones who will nurture the
next generation. As the old poem states. "The hand that rocks the cradle
rules the world"
We as mothers should invest ourselves in both training and equipping our
girls and young women to become godly women. Remember what I read in Romans
12 - " a living sacrifice"? That to me is a perfect definition of
motherhood. Equipping and training our young women requires purposeful
mothering...using our time and energy and leading by example...it is not
easy, but it is so worth the effort.
But, you may ask, "how can I do this if I was not trained in this way?"
Learn...read books, read God's word, find a godly woman to learn from, learn
with your girls. That's how I have and am learning and am trying...and by
God's grace I will succeed, for with God nothing is impossible. I have given
you a list of excellent resources, I highly recommend you read as many of
those books as possible...and encourage your daughters to read those that
are appropriate for their age.
Let me leave you with this thought today. As Moses of old stood before
Israel before they entered the promised land, filled with pagan cultures
much like ours today, he reminded them of God's laws and the blessings of
obeying God, as well as what could happen to them if they failed to obey God
and become like the pagans they were to remove from their land. And he
concluded with this statement in Deuteronomy 30:19 and 20 - "I call heaven
and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and
death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may
live, you and your descendants, by loving the Lord your God, by obeying His
voice, and holding fast to Him."
Ladies, young women and girls, we live in the midst of an evil and perverse
culture and we must choose to fulfill our calling to become women of God.
This means setting ourselves apart from our culture in the choices we make
and in how we raise our sons and daughters. We need to serve God
unreservedly, willing to step away from the norms of our society, use God's
principles and precepts, and raise up the next generation of God Loving