I received this beautiful letter from our friend, Sharon; it's written by her friend Jana Taft. I pray God will use her writing to bless you in your motherhood.
of Little Girls
Now that I have raised two of my four girls into adulthood, I would like to share some things that I have learned over the years. Many of them are things I have wished someone would've told me years ago, but since I didn't have that information, I learned things through trial and error, pain and prayer.
I think we as women, tend to take things much more personally with our children than our husbands do and especially with our girls. I learned sometimes, the hard way, how important it is not to react to many of the things my girls said and did as they were growing up. As a general rule, it really wasn't about me at all, although it sure felt like it at the time. In fact as a general rule, since kids are ruled by self, it really is all about them, even when they say and do things to make us think it's all about us. With girls, especially when they are in the pre-teen and teen years, one of their biggest tools is often the guilt trip of "you're ruining my life, MOM!" I suggest that you remove that little ploy from their tool box before they even figure out it's there. Never let it get you in its grip because it is a deceptive little tool and it cannot be effective if you don't allow them to use it. I want to share a few tools that the Lord has added to my Mommy's tool box over the years. Each tool has its place of importance.
These are tools that we can pull out to help win the war on terror, for as we all know, these selfish little darlings are just little terrorists in the making if we allow them to develop without proper training and loving guidance. Fortunately, contrary to the popular belief of our messed up society, we do have control over how we raise our children and we are not destined to a life with little terrorists. God is faithful and even though my girls didn't grow up in the perfect situation and even though they have gone through some tumultuous years, God has been faithful and they are each a blessing to me today. So, I venture to share with you a few things about the blessing of little girls and a few tips to aid in their upbringing.
Prayer is the number one, most important tool in the box. Pray for your children every day. Pray for wisdom and guidance as you train them. Pray for their future and the lives of their future spouses. Pray for their relationships with family members and friends. Pray about everything. Let God be your very best friend and your strongest advocate in the raising of your children. After all, He is their Creator. He has the blueprint for their lives. We are just the nannies. The reality is that they are His, not ours. He has a plan for them and if we don't get in the way, but let Him guide us in their training, we will be a blessed part of that plan.
The second tool in the box is the Bible.
Look to His Word consistently for His wisdom and guidance. Read it to your girls. Teach them to read it by themselves and help them to draw out the truths of it through discussion and practical application.
The Third Tool is Relationship
Nurture this through special times set aside to talk, listen to them, encourage them, and validate them. Be willing to sit up at night and listen to them since that seems to be the time they will really share the deep and important things in their hearts. This takes sacrifice of sleep, sometimes. However, it is well worth it to take that time to listen to them and let them confide in you. It's a very precious time that you only have ONE opportunity to nurture while you have them at home. I enjoyed these times with Heidi and Brandi and did not regret that time with them. God always provided me with extra rest. As a result, even now that they are adults, we still enjoy a late night "girls talk" once in a while and those are very treasured times to me.
The next tool balance.
Girls tend to be more emotional than boys. This is a balancing act. Teach them to balance their emotions with facts. Teach them to separate fact from feeling and not to be ruled by their emotions. For example: "You feel like nobody likes you and you don't have any friends at all." That is a feeling. The fact is that lots of people like you and you have quite a few friends. Name their friends. Take the opportunity to disciple them and teach them how to be a friend and to view friendship from an unselfish, Christ like, perspective.
Next comes the tool of protection.
If your daughter is an only girl, she may be even more emotional since she is surrounded by all boys. I felt left out a LOT being the only girl with three brothers. It is especially important in this situation to help her learn how to deal with boys and to teach them how to treat her appropriately. She should be protected and loved and cherished by them. Parents have to teach this behavior, though. It rarely comes naturally. Even if she is not an only girl, if she has brothers, she should feel safe, loved and cherished by them.
Dating your daughter is another important and effective tool.
Girls desire depth of relationship. This takes time and effort. My girls love tea parties, coffee with mom, special dates out just us girls, giggling in bed at the end of the day, watching a "chick flick" together, garage saling, secrets, hugs, hearing me tell them I love them, kisses on their cheeks unexpectedly, sharing loving words through sign language, making up secret languages that only "we" understand and especially knowing that their Dad and I are their strongest support system.
The tools of edification and encouragement are two more very useful tools when working with children, but with girls especially.
Girls tend to thrive on words of affirmation. It is so important that we give them verbal kudos throughout the day. Make sure they are sincere and make sure they are meaningful. If you don't, they're very smart and they'll know you are just pacifying them. Things like: "Wow, honey! I have been noticing that I haven't had to tell you to do your chores today. You are staying on track all by yourself. You are really growing up. Thank you for being so obedient. It is such a blessing to see you maturing into a young lady." OR: "I really like the way you cleaned the kitchen exactly the way I taught you. You are really beginning to catch all of the details without any reminders. Great job!
Boundaries are a must have in your Mommy's tool box.
Many Moms feel guilty setting boundaries with their children, but boundaries are a very important tool in the art of motherhood. God has called us to be the authority in our homes and He set the example many times throughout the scripture, of setting boundaries when He needed to. It is okay and it is necessary to set boundaries. Girls, especially the oldest girl, can tend to "take over" the wife role with their dad. (running to the door and blasting through in order to be the first to hug him and to tell him all of the information of the day before mom can even wipe the flour off her face and get there.) This can be exasperating if you allow it to be. Remember, she is watching you and learning from you. She is a little wife and mother in the making. Set your boundaries in a loving way and encourage her that she will be a wonderful wife someday, but there are certain things that are not yet for her to do. Give her special things she can do to nurture her daddy and to show him love and show her approval when she follows through on them.
important boundary comes with children's tendency to interrupt
Manners and the ability to honor other people and their boundaries are very important character qualities.
Don't let guilt keep you from setting necessary boundaries. Girls have a tendency to become mouthy and to "take a tone" a little more than boys do. This begins at a young age and as a general rule they are not even aware, initially, of how they sound or come across. It is so important that you do not react to it negatively. Simply correct them in a gentle but firm tone. Teach them how to say the same thing in an appropriate and respectful way with the right tone of voice. Don't take it personally. Once they have been enlightened to their tendency to be mouthy and with inappropriate voice tones, follow through with discipline consistently each time they do it with a reminder once again, of what is appropriate. If you over react to it, it can be a big deterrent to a good relationship, so don't fall into this trap, but also don't allow them to ever, even for a minute, gain the upper hand with you. Be sure that you don't give in to them when they take display a bad attitude towards you. Be sure that the result is negative. Remember, you don't have to react to them. You are, by God's design, the mother of your home and therefore their authority. Do not fear them. If you don't react negatively and you handle it with firmness you will show strength and self control and this will help to keep their respect for you in tact. This is a time of testing. They want and need to know the boundaries are there. They long for security and they will test you time and again, to make sure you are worthy of their respect and that you will keep them safe with strong, consistent, firm and loving boundaries.
Another tool the Lord has placed in my box is the tool of approval.
Girls really want to be like mom and need mom's input and approval. They look up to us, admire us and want to be just like us. My kids love to put on my apron and work in the kitchen just like me. What a blessing! Embrace it. Give them lots of hugs and have fun playing and teasing with them. These things help them to know you have accepted and approved of them as your children.
Gift giving and words of affirmation
Little girls tend to be gift givers. All of my girls have been big on gift giving but when my older girls were little I don't think I was wise enough to see their sweet little treasures for the gifts they really were and I have regretted that. I have learned since then that each little dandelion and weed bouquet is a gift to be cherished. Each little beat up and dirty toy wrapped with love, is a gift. They are saying to you: "Mommy, I love you and I want you to have this treasure. I'm thinking of you. I'm showing you how much I need you and love you." Be sure to accept these gifts with grace! I have made mistakes many times in this area and have regretted it. I now have a little glass vase that sits very prominently in my kitchen window. It is almost always filled with a beautiful dandelion or weed bouquet of some kind and I love it! I look at it often as I'm cleaning the kitchen, cooking or washing dishes and the message I receive from it is: "my children love me!" This blesses me. These days are short and soon my babies will be grown and gone. I won't have dandelion bouquets and beat up plastic gifts in my cupboards any more. Remember that these gifts come from their hearts. They are valuable and you are teaching them that giving is an important part of their character. If you nurture it, they will be givers for the rest of their lives and they will bless many people that God brings across their paths.
Words of affirmation: Girls don't deal well with criticism.
Give them kind explanations, word pictures, along with examples and show patience. If one of my girls is struggling to learn or understand something I am trying to teach her, I know that I have to be very careful not to show impatience or frustration. I know that if she isn't "getting it" that we need to stop, pray and possibly come back later to figure it out.
The tool of confrontation
In those moments when you know your child has done wrong and you have to confront the situation, God's Word directs us to do it with love. Always reassure and be careful that you don't accuse unless you have facts to back up the accusation and even then, pray before you confront and be sure you are led by the Lord as you talk to them. Our goal is always to train, to disciple and to encourage. When the Lord confronts us on our sin, He does it gently, lovingly and firmly. The Bible tells us that "It's His kindness that leads us to repentance."
The Tool of Tough Love
Girls can be manipulative. Nip that in the bud early on, for it is a life long character issue if you don't. Be strong. Tell them what you see. When they deny it, stand firm. Be loving. Be consistent. Be sure that their manipulation never reaps positive rewards, but also be sure they are not condemned as you train them. Manipulation is essentially the same as lying for it is a passive way of dishonesty in order to gain a desire. Girls will, as all kids do, experiment with the truth. See it for what it is, even early on….and nail it early and consistently. Never reward them for it.
Now we come to the tool of Nurture
Girls are nurturing by nature. It is so important to allow them to nurture us while they are still young. They are learning this from watching us and they need to be able to express it and practice it. When Heidi was little, if I got sick, she loved to set up a little TV tray next to the blanket filled bed she made for me on the couch. She would bring me a bell and tell me to ring it if I needed anything. I would rest there with a cup of steaming tea she had made for me and enjoy that nice comfy bed and her loving and nurturing ways. What a blessing! She is still very nurturing in those situations today. Brandi loved to cuddle and rub my back. She loved to talk and nurture through comforting words. She too, is like that today. She is an excellent listener, very reassuring and comforting. My younger girls have their little ways of nurturing too. Natalie and Chrissie keep me in full supply of dandelion bouquets and little wrapped gifts.
One year we woke up on Valentine's Day and upon entering the kitchen we found two little girls in aprons working away making breakfast. The table was beautifully set and decorated for Valentines Day and they excitedly and lovingly pulled out our chairs for us and waited on us during that very special and beautiful breakfast of toast, raisins, walnuts and milk. Their baby dolls are real children to them. Go with it. Nurture it. They are little mommas in the making. Theirs is a world of dress up, mothering, learning about and discovering what it is to become a woman through imaginative play and modeling after you I love it when Chrissie wants to take her baby shopping with us. She carefully buckles her into her car seat with her blanket and whatever else little Momma Chrissie decides her baby might need to have on a little outing. I shared at our last ladies night out about the time a few years ago when a very young Chrissie and Natalie were tucked away for the night. I went in to kiss them one last time before I headed off to bed, and as I leaned my very pregnant belly over their beds in preparation to kiss them, I discovered that these two precious little girls were both great with child. I tip-toed out of their room, suppressing a giggle all the way to our room to get their Daddy so he could make this discovery himself. We will never forget that precious time as they both imagined what it would be like to be pregnant just like their mommy.
I am so honored that my girls are watching me and that in spite of my imperfections and mistakes, they love me. They admire me. They learn from me and they aspire to be very much like me. This is a huge responsibility and it is a blessing. With this blessing comes a caution as well: Be careful not to push your daughters away. They can at times, be overwhelming and sometimes their emotional needs seem to be more than I can deal with. But, God is faithful and He will give us the strength, courage and ability to handle these precious souls for His glory if we don't react on emotion and according to how we feel at the time. It is okay to take a step back, redirect them for a time and deal with whatever issue they are encumbered by later on when you have had time to pray and receive clear direction.
Your Personality Strengths are God's tool in your children's lives
It's very important that you go to God and your husband for wisdom in your mothering and that you be who you were created to be. I have made the mistake, in the past, of comparing myself to other women who were tougher or more factual than me or just different in a way I thought I should be more like. I tried to implement the way they did things with their kids, thinking it would be more effective in certain problem areas I was experiencing when my girls were teens and it absolutely backfired on me 100 %. The kids knew it was not ME…..that I was trying to be like someone else and they could pinpoint exactly who that someone else was. I learned through that experience that God gave them ME as their mother and not someone else. I can glean some great wisdom from other godly women, but I need to incorporate it in accordance with my personality and the leading and guidance of my husband who has a vested interest in our children.
If you nurture the relationship carefully, they will be your best friend for life and you will love and enjoy this very precious gift of womanhood in your daughter. Little girls are precious gifts, that like a flower will grow and blossom into a beautiful young woman if they are nurtured and lovingly cared for. I am still enjoying my two little girls and I am blessed now to have two grown daughters that I no longer have to parent but now get to enjoy as two of my most cherished friends.