By Lora Bordon
“She will be taller than you are,” the doctor said as he put my red, wrinkly, newborn daughter into my arms. “How do you know that?” I asked. He pointed to her long slender toes, “Definitely taller.” We were welcoming our second of three daughters into our lives. It had been a long pregnancy; I had to be hospitalized for three weeks in my 24th week, for pre-term labor. I found myself confined to bed for the next three months, lying on my right side, willing the baby to stay put till full term. My one and a half year old daughter was tearing through the house like a bull in a china shop, driving all of us nuts. We were at my in-laws place. The baby arrived two weeks early and we were ecstatic at the absolutely perfect little girl that entered our lives.
There is nothing in life to prepare us for the wild and wonderful world of daughters. I remember shortly after my youngest was born, I felt in need of a lift, so I splurged at the beauty shop. I came home that evening with every hair perfectly in place. My five year old daughter commented on how nice my hair looked, (daughters always notice!) The next morning, I woke up late, rushed down to the kitchen to get breakfast ready and everyone out the door. My daughter looked at me with disappointment and said, “Wow Mom, that haircut sure didn’t last long.”
Ribbons and curls all too quickly give way to the uncharted water of jeans and make-up. Their bodies begin changing and almost overnight we have young ladies sitting at our tables. One minute they are poised and beautiful and the next moment they have dissolved into tears. Does anyone know what just happened? One day I had a disagreement with my twelve year old. I suggested that we talk about the issue later after we had both taken some time to cool down. She tearfully shouted at me that she was not angry, and did not need time to cool down. Our beloved dachshund, Tasha, (also a girl), picked a bad time to walk across the room. Poor Tasha got an unexpected kick in the ribs, “And no one asked you anyway,” she yelled at the dog. I waited a moment and asked the obvious, “So, you are sure that you are not angry?” We both realized how ridiculous the situation was and ended up laughing as she picked up the dog.
I love having daughters. My youngest is now 16 and the years have flown by. As they grow our relationship changes. I can no longer command them to obey me as I did when they were young. If I can maintain our relationship, hopefully I can still influence their decisions. I may think that my advice is good but it is like offering them a sweet; they may take it or they may say thanks but no thanks, Mom. My daughters have become my close friends and I have been blessed indeed. For the record, the doctor was right; I am the shortest one in my family.
We owe it to our daughters to:
- Keep communication open as they move into their teen years. If you forget everything else remember this. There will be unexpected teachable moments. Ask questions and listen before saying anything. Seek to understand. In my experience the opportunity to impart something generally presents itself when I am the busiest and the last thing I want to do is stop what I am doing and talk. Yet that is the precise moment that they are open. As a parent ask God for discernment to recognize those golden moments.
- Have close relationships with their fathers. We cannot overestimate the influence that a strong, loving father has on his daughter. A woman’s relationship with men in general is defined by her relationship with her own father. Going out with Dad on the scooter for ice cream, or just sitting on the veranda and talking will build secure daughters that are loved and accepted. They will not need to look elsewhere for that love.
- Instill Godly values that can sustain them in an ungodly world. As our girls grow, they will face increasing temptation from a seductive world to conform. They face peer pressure; MTV, and Bollywood idols, and advertising that promotes sexual promiscuity and rebellion. They will be assaulted by immorality, gender issues, eating disorders, drugs and cutting (self harm) to name a few. We must instill in our children the godly virtues necessary to stand strong in God against tide that would swallow them.
- Speak openly and honestly about sex. If they do not hear it from you, they will from their friends. Our daughters should understand how a woman’s body functions, menstruation and that we are fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God. There are materials available if you feel shy to talk about these things. When they start asking questions they are probably old enough to be given information that is appropriate to that age.
- Teach them to be assertive and how to say NO, especially to the advances of young men. Instill strong moral standards. Our daughters need to understand that promiscuity will destroy their own body. Help them to develop a passion for purity. Also I have made it a policy that if anyone older ever tells one of my kids not to tell their parents something that has happened that they are to come directly home and tell me. That person is almost assuredly doing the wrong thing. The world that they are entering is not a safe place. Our girls need to trust us, knowing deep in their hearts that we are on their side.
- Believe in our daughters and allow them to develop to be the woman of God they were designed to be. Every girl is unique, beautiful in her own way. She may be petite and feminine, sporty, or free-spirited and creative. Give her the freedom to develop into the woman that God has created her to be. Let her know that you are certain that she can do anything that she sets her mind to.