Christian mothers are rightly concerned regarding the growth and development of their daughters.  This is very true as regards their physical needs.  From infancy on we see to it that they are properly fed and receive good nourishment, we look after their clothing, we try to maintain a clean and happy home for them, when necessary we take them to the doctor and dentist, and the list could go on and on.  As they develop, we instruct them in taking care of themselves and letting them assume some responsibility for their own needs.  All this activity requires much time and energy of a mother.

Interwoven with all the busyness of day-to-day living is the high calling of the Christian mother to help her daughter develop as a godly young person.  This training must be done with consistency, with a knowledge of and love for the Word of God and with a life of prayer.  This is a difficult task and a truly God-fearing mother will take her calling seriously.

The training of our children begins at a very early age as we read in Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”  We teach them about God, we teach them to pray, to recite Bible verses and to sing.  We are training them constantly by word and example regarding the walk of sanctification, that they may gradually become more and more Christ-like.  The training of our children takes place in the home, church and school.  The home is the foundation.  If there are strong homes, it will be very evident in the life of the church and school.  Parents bring their children to church and talk about the sermon with them afterwards; parents teach their children the catechism lessons.  Parents send their children to the Christian school where there are Christian teachers who instruct them in the various subjects according to the Word of God.  Parents also assist the teachers by following up on the schoolwork at home.

The real test of a good mother-daughter relationship is when our daughters are of high school age.  Suddenly the outside influences and peer pressures seem to take over.  The little girl that at one time believed everything we said and did everything we asked begins to have her own ideas about things.  As mothers, we can easily identify with this development in their lives, because we went through the same things ourselves.  There is no need for panic; we view it as a new opportunity to grow in our relationship together.

We realize however, that we cannot expect a good mother-daughter relationship at this time unless we have prepared for it.  Two things are of top priority.  By this time we must have developed good communication skills.  Our teen-aged daughter will not be open with us unless she has grown accustomed to talk things over from childhood on.  Even though she will turn more to her friends and see less need for Mom, she will still need a shoulder to cry on and some help in dealing with frustrating situations in her life.  It also is of utmost importance that we can trust each other.  As mothers, we know our daughter’s strengths and weaknesses.  We know how easily they can be influenced by others in a bad way or how independent they can be.  At the same time we know their child-like faith is being tested.  All this can be fractured when we learn that our daughters are not honest and open with us.  Our daughters must learn that our relationship is as meaningful as they are trustworthy.  On our part as mothers, we must not talk to others about the things they talk about with us.  No teenaged daughter wants her mother to gossip about her problems with others.  She has a right to expect her mother to keep it confidential.  When this trust is established, groundwork is laid for a meaningful relationship.

Take, for example, the tension that can easily develop over the time our daughters spend in the bathroom.  We smile to ourselves as they go through that stage of life when their appearance is so important.  Perhaps they need a particular kind of shampoo, conditioner, hair spray, make-up, etc.  At the same time we want to impress upon them the truth of I Peter 3:3, 4, “Whose adorning, let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God a great price.”  The greatest influence we have upon them during this time is our example.  If we as mothers make that so important by spending so much time and money on appearance, we’re telling our daughters that it is not a passing phase of their life, but that is what they will continue to do.  Rather, we should show them by example that we can be neat and clean in our appearance without allowing ourselves to be influenced by all the advertisements of the cosmetic industry.

We must teach our daughters certain values in regard to entertainment and Christian liberty.  Many times this can be an area of conflict in the home.  Teen-agers often feel that parents are too strict and will not allow them to do anything.  It is true, however, that rules help to control their lives and most of them appreciate this loving concern of their parents, if not now, then later.  In homes where there are no restrictions, they feel their parents do not care and they lose respect for them.  Encourage your daughter to say “No” to temptations right from the start rather than to experience the hard way of sin and the burden of guilt.  Sometimes it is necessary for them to learn this way and then we must show them the error of their way and lead them to repentance and forgiveness.  The Christian life is a daily crucifying of the old nature and a striving to walk in a new and holy life – not only for older people, but for young people also.  If we keep in mind that Christ is our companion and guide, it will not be difficult for us to know what acceptable behavior is.

Guidance must be given so they are careful in choosing their friends and boyfriends.  It is best to limit dating only to those who would be considered a good mate.  “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers:  for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness?  and what communion hath light with darkness?”  II Corinthians 6:14.  In “Christian Child-Rearing and Personality Development”, Paul Meier writes, “I don’t think Christian teenagers should be allowed to date until they have reviewed the Scriptures and written out a personal list of dating rules that are in agreement with Scripture.  They should then determine in their hearts that they will never violate these rules for any reason, even if it means losing some dates.  What a teenager does or doesn’t do during his dating years can significantly influence his future husband-wife relationship.”  When we seek to honor and glorify God in all we do, and in all our relationships, this can be a truly happy time in the life of our daughters.

What place will our daughters take in the church?  Scripture gives many examples of godly women – women who were faithful in the instruction of their children in the ways of the Lord, women who were given to hospitality and gave liberally of their belongings.  At this time when the role of women in the church is called into question by many, it is good for us to consider just what place the woman does have.  We are all familiar with Proverbs 31:10-31 which shows us many of the virtues and activities of the godly woman.  Although the woman’s place in the church is different from the man’s, it is by no means an inferior position.  Men and women are “heirs together of the grace of life;” I Peter 4:7.  In this article, we will not refute arguments which are used to defend deaconesses, or women in the office of elder or minister.  For a good explanation of that subject, I would suggest the reading of the pamphlet entitled “Phebe: An Example for the Christian Woman” which you should be able to find in your church’s pamphlet racks.  Have the things pertaining to the kingdom of God been top priority in our lives?  Have our daughters seen us faithfully attending church and society?  Are we remembering members of the church who are in need with a visit, a word of encouragement, or a meal for their family?  By this time our daughters have learned a lot from the example we are to them.  Some of our daughters will marry and have families of their own and will instruct their children in the ways of the Lord.  Other girls will remain single and can use their gifts and talents in another way.

Writing this article for our Young People’s magazine, I would also encourage our young girls to listen to the instruction of their mothers (and fathers).  Sometimes we tend to become very impatient, feel we’ve listened to everything they have to say so often already, why must we hear it again?  Do remember that when your parents caution you regarding behavior, friends, etc., they do this because they know that our only happiness is when we walk according to God’s Word and in love for you they do not want you to have to learn by making mistakes and hurting yourself.  Parents have “no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth,” III John 4.  This is absolutely the most important and we rejoice in that God is faithful in establishing His covenant in continued generations.  Trust your parents.  As you become older and more mature, you will understand this more completely.  When I was young, I felt my parents were very strict; but it struck me when I had my family that the values I wanted to teach my children were very much what my parents had taught me.  Now I have the joy of seeing my daughters instructing their children.  Parents will admit that we are by no means perfect, we are very much aware of our weaknesses and shortcomings, but we pray that God will use our weak and feeble efforts to His Glory and the strengthening of His people.  Thank God for loving, Christian parents! And may God bless all our precious young daughters.

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