Raising a Daughter… Without Going Crazy

The Fundamental Home

When I found out I was having a girl, I cried.

It wasn’t a beautiful cry.  It was a “my life is over” cry.

The tears only got worse when it hit me that my due date was my birthday.  I knew that what my mother had wished for me was true.  I was going to have a girl who was just like me.  The thought was terrifying.

I was not exactly an easy child.  (Frankly, I am not an easy adult, but that’s another story.)  My mother and I… we had our issues.  When I looked at that monitor showing my sweet, unborn infant, I saw my teen-aged self coming back to haunt me.  Needless to say, it was that moment when I knew parenting was not going to be easy anymore.  I knew what was coming in just a few short years.  I committed myself to pursuing something different with my daughter.

(Of course, I should have thought twice before I named her Briana.  Her name means strength.  It’s like I was setting myself up for a battle of wills.  On a positive note, Briana also means wisdom and virtue.  I figured, in the long run, that’s all a girl needs.  I still think that.)

The first few years were blissful.  I should have known at that point I was in for a bumpy ride.  Have you ever heard the stories that firefighters tell?  They say that the longer a new recruit goes before they see their first major fire, the bigger the fire is.  That’s kind of how it was with my girl.  The early, easy years were just a long wait for the big fire to come.  Briana slept through the night early- in her crib- with no unnecessary tears.  She was always on schedule.  Her toddler years were quiet.  She was an adorable, chubby cheeked angel who enjoyed tea parties with Daddy.

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Then, she turned 4.

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By this time, we were homeschooling.  Briana is a good student.  She is quick to learn, and when working on something she loves, she is eager to do her best.  It was while homeschooling, we discovered that Briana was a force to be reckoned with when she was asked to do something she did not feel comfortable doing.

(I know what I said earlier about how I was difficult child, but I blame her father for this one 😉 )

Honestly.  There were days I cried and she cried.  Like, everyday… for months.

The boys were not always easy either, but their will was nothing compared to that of my one daughter.  She would not give up.  At some point, I felt that I may as well put her in school.  I just knew that I would not be able to handle homeschooling her.  Rick was coming home to both of us crying all the time.  He wasn’t happy, I wasn’t happy, the boys weren’t happy, and Briana wasn’t happy.

I sought the Lord in much prayer over this one.  What else could I do?  I was at my wits end.  It felt like a constant battle.  It’s reached the boiling point one day, and I began to think that the struggle between my daughter and I was not a struggle between two individuals.  Instead, it was a spiritual battle.  I said aloud, “I am going to homeschool her until she graduates, even if we cry everyday!”  There was power in that statement.  Really, the power was in the commitment behind that statement.  I meant it.  By God’s grace, I would train this child.  I can’t explain it, but after that moment, I have felt at peace.  Sure, there have been times of continued struggle.  There is still much prayer.  The difference is that the struggle isn’t whether or not I can raise her properly.  The struggle is simply figuring out how to handle raising her.

Once we got over that hurdle, there have been two keys to raising a daughter without going crazy.

Build a Relationship With Her

When Briana was about 7, I noticed that she seemed sad.  We talked about her feelings, and I found that she already was feeling a bit insecure.  All of the fussing troubled her.  I could not stop correcting her inappropriate behavior, but I knew I could do more to let her know she was loved.  It was at this time that I decided that my daughter would be my best friend.  This was not to take away from my role as a parent.  I still held that firmly.  I just added to the parenting role a more complete element of friendship.

We did everything together.  Every errand I ran, she ran.  Every meal I made, she made.  Every chore I did, she did.  The best part was that my tasks felt less like drudgery with my little friend in tow.  Every night, we read a chapter of book together.   I am not really a television watcher, but if we watched a show or movie, she watched with me (no worries about little eyes because I try to choose good programming).

As Briana got older, she began to do some things more independently.  I allowed it to an extent.  She needed to gain a little footing on her own, but she is only 12.  She’s not too independent yet.  We still do a lot together.  I cultivate our relationship.  As we glide into the teen years, I want it to be strong.

Parents of girls my daughter’s age often complain about their daughter’s “attitude.”  If you are encountering this, let me encourage you to draw close.  She may be as prickly as a cactus, but she is eager for love, affection, and reassurance.  Make sure she finds it in your home.  The teen years will be ugly, indeed, if she goes looking for those things elsewhere.

Set a Good Example 

If your daughter is going to be your best friend, you need to be the kind of friend who is going to encourage her to do well.  The biggest complaint I hear about teen and pre-teen girls is their “attitude” and their “mouth.”  However, the biggest mistake I see if sharp, critical, unkind mothers.  They get frustrated with their girls and, because of their frustration, do not respond with gentleness.

Ezekiel 16:44  … As is the mother, so is her daughter. 

You will not have a sweet, kind, gentle, young lady if you are not a sweet, kind, gentle woman.  Set the example of the kind of woman she should be, and you will soon find her following suit.

Be Her Defense

I have worked in jail ministries a lot.  For a time, I worked in an incarceration unit dedicated to teen girls.  One thing I saw was that mothers did not often support these girls.  They gave up on them.  They said to the courts, “I can’t do anything with her.  Just take her.”  When it was their sons facing jail time, mothers would beg the judge for mercy.  They would claim all of the boys’ ills were the fault of their poor parenting.  Mothers would cry and plead for sons.  It was heartbreaking to see the contrast.

Girls need their mother’s support.

Just as women are quick to drop their support for their own daughters, they are also quick to be critical of the daughters of others.  Don’t allow yourself to do that.  Remember, you were a girl once.  You may not have been the same kind of girl, but you know what it feels like to be in those shoes.

If you have a girl, stand beside her.  She needs your support as much as she needs your love.

No, I am not done raising this girl.  She is still willful.  To be honest, I admire her strength (when I am not up against it).  My girl is brave and hard-working.  She is also soft and sweet, willing to do whatever she can for those she loves.  She will be an outstanding wife and mother one day.  We are making it through one day at a time.

It takes work to raise a daughter without going crazy.  You have to work on your relationship, you have to work on yourself, and you have to work to protect.  I know that, in the end, it will be worth all the effort.

By the way, the only reason I cry about having a daughter these days is because our time together is growing shorter and shorter.  Having a daughter is a wonderful blessing!

Want to see me and Briana in action?  She made a Youtube “Mom Tag” video last Mother’s Day. You can check it out here.

Do you have any advice about raising daughters without going crazy?  Be sure to share it in the comments below.  I know I would be interested in hearing words of wisdom and so would my readers!

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2 thoughts on “Raising a Daughter… Without Going Crazy

  • October 30, 2015 at 12:53 pm

    Oh how funny, I feel like I could have wrote this article. My Kaitlyn is a very independent, and somewhat strong willed. As a baby, she wanted fed, but fussed if I rocked her back to sleep. As a toddler, she could accomplish anything she put her mind to, nothing stood in her way. I’ve said many times over that it’s like watching a little me grow up. It seemed scary at times, I know me very well, and I still fear these next few years of her teenage life. She’s always been very confident, but I see that quality diminishing as she gets older. She experiences roadblocks that seem to stop her, and I had to learn to encourage her even more to build that confidence back up. She has been my best friend for many years, I always tell her that I’m her mother first, the queen, but she’s my best friend secondly, my princess. My husband preaches on the family occasionally, and he says that husbands and wives should be best friends in life. Kaitlyn always looks up at me and whispers that her and I are best friends, but I make sure to tell her that she’s my favorite girlfriend, and that her daddy is my favorite boyfriend.

    • October 30, 2015 at 6:52 pm

      So true! My husband is my very best friend, but Briana is my best girl friend. It’s wonderful how the Lord puts the best people for you right in your own family. You just have to appreciate them 🙂 Thanks for sharing your experience!


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