Whether your daughter is hanging on your heels right now or begging for some space, there are certain things she needs from you that she might not be verbally expressing – or admitting.
I learned about most of these needs a daughter has as I was raising my own daughter, Dana, who is now 24. But the rest I had confirmed to me repeatedly as I researched and wrote my book, When a Mom Inspires Her Daughter. As I surveyed nearly 100 daughters, ages 12-32, I found that regardless of their age, economic status or cultural background, they all needed (and continue to need) the same five things:
- She Needs Your Time
The one thing we claim to have the least of is what our daughters seem to need the most: Our time. I learned this when my daughter was in second grade and I read her spelling homework. Each of her sentences was about me. But get this…each sentence was about how busy I was! Even as a stay-at-home mom, I was failing to let her know she was a priority to me. After seeing in her sentences how much she was missing me, I prayed for wisdom, a more discerning heart toward her needs, and the ability to say “no” to more things so I wouldn’t miss her childhood. It was then that God impressed upon my heart Psalm 90:12, which became a life motto:
Teach us to number our days carefully so that we may develop wisdom in our hearts (HCSB).
To number our days is to recognize we have limited time on this earth to make a difference. So we must make every moment count – with our daughters, too.
Because we tend to live such fast-paced, over-scheduled lives, it can be challenging to let our daughters know they are more important to us than the job or the tasks at hand. So, consider scheduling a weekly or monthly date with your daughter where the two of you can connect, one on one.
- She Needs Your Acceptance
You’d be surprised how many daughters I surveyed who said they never felt accepted by their moms. And the most surprising discovery for me was that those same moms whose daughters felt unaccepted, had no idea their daughters saw them as critical and unsupportive.
A young woman needs to know she is accepted by her mom, even if her personality, opinions, and preferences are different than her mom’s. She needs to feel accepted as she is recognizing her uniqueness, in the ways she feels “odd” or out of place in a crowd, and on the days she feels she didn’t measure up to you or others around her. Tell your daughter often what you appreciate about her – especially in the ways she is different from you.
- She Needs to Feel a Connection with You
You may have a daughter who tends to keep to herself and doesn’t communicate openly. Or you might have a daughter who prefers to talk a lot more than you do. Regardless of your personality or hers, be the one who initiates an emotional connection with your daughter. You can do this by asking her every afternoon or evening how it’s going in her world. Even if she’s acting like she doesn’t want to talk, she will see that you are reaching out to her. And when she’s ready to connect, she’ll know you’re there.
- She Needs a Spiritual Foundation
A college-aged girl who was raised in a committed Christian home told me that, although she might not have appreciated it at the time, her mother’s insistence that she attend church every Sunday and learn strong biblical values is one of the best things her mother could’ve done for her. It is something she intends to imitate with her own children someday.
The key, though, was the emphasis in her home on a relationship with God, not the rules or routine of “being religious.”
Our daughters need us to have a strong dependence on the Lord so they can imitate that walk and develop a dependence on the Lord, as well. Our goal as parents is to gradually, through the years, make our children less dependent on us and more dependent on God. We know we’ve done our job when they can tell us “I’m ok. I’ve already gone to the Lord about it.”
- She Needs to be Allowed to Fail
You and I often want to step in and rescue our children, rather than risk having to watch them fail. But it is crucial that we teach our daughters how to pick themselves up and move on after they fail. Your daughter needs to know it’s perfectly normal – and human – to make mistakes. She needs to know it isn’t the end of the world if she fails to do something correctly. And she needs to know that coming in second or third or not placing at all, is often a part of life.
Guiding your daughter through disappointment and failure is just as important as guiding her through victory and success. Let her make mistakes. Let her feel badly and learn from them. Let her live out what it’s like to be imperfect and love her through it. Could anything show her more of the way God loves us?
Which one of these needs of your daughter’s will you focus on this week?