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I never thought that I was missing out when I coined myself a #boymom.
I figured that we would only ever be blessed with a troop of young men and that was ok by me. I get guys. I always considered myself one of the guys. Girls were foreign to me growing up, and so, I figured God had it right just entrusting me with l a tiny army of little dudes.
I was so certain that this was our lot that, when we welcomed our fourth man cub into the world I posted his birth announcement with the hashtag #boymomforever.
At that point we figured we ere done expanding and so we settled into this idea that we were not going to be having a little lady join the ranks. Frankly, that was cool beans with me.
Remember, I was raised by my single father with a single brother. I could navigate my way around a game of road hockey better than I could the isles of Clair’s.
But God is funny, I find. More so when you think you have it all planned and figured out. There is a curveball waiting around that smug corner.
Sitting pretty a full year into this boy mom journey we were introduced to the sweetest, most owl-eyed little lady who *I’m confident* is the sole reason we found ourselves pregnant for the fifth time.
To say that we were surprised that we would again be excepting a child is an understatement.
We were “done”. We had purged all the baby stuff with the move pending and we were finding a rhythm doing life with four young men.
The story goes that we found out we were expecting a little lady … say what? No one thought my husband carried those swimmers, but alas. A half shot round after cuddling the most adorable newborn and BAM baby time.
^^ it happens very easily for my husband and I, so much so that I think we both have pregnancy PTSD which impedes the “fun” postpartum. But that is for another story.
So now, 9 months or so later … we have our baby girl and I am flooded with all the insecurities of my own youth.
The fear of fitting in, or not fitting in. The reminder that, though I tried to tell myself I CHOOSE to hang out with the guys more than the girls, it wasn’t always my choosing. I was self-conscious and awkward. I didn’t have designer clothing and I rarely did the girly stuff like paint my nails or braid my hair. I stuck out like a sore thumb and had NO IDEA how to navigate all the feels that come along with girl relationships.
Those fears, insecurities, feelings that I just didn’t fit into the mold of lady friend life still fill my mind and taint my relationships. I have ridiculous fear of missing out, so much so that I try not to let anyone “into” my circle of friends for fear that there is some maximum capacity and I will be the first odd duck tossed overboard.
** I wish that was a joke, but when I had my hydra pack I literally went home and cried when a new mom was brought in by “my best friend”. **
The thought that my daughter would be racked with those same fears and insecurities breaks my heart.
So I started thinking about it. The way that moms do.
How would I solve this problem before it happened?
How could I help to ensure that my daughter had happy and healthy friendships?
How could I help her to navigate and avoid the insecurities and the many, MANY feelings?
How could I do all this when my own childhood was riddled with insecurities and sticking out?
And so I reached out to my friends who had potential friends for my daughter. I considered the women who were raising the tribe that my daughter would call her own. I sent out a group message like some awkward turtle, and I aired my fears and insecurities.
I offered up a plan of action for all of us. Our mutual weirdness binding us now as women. Our desire for better for our children compelling us to learn, grow, and do things differently.
I suggested that there were a few things we needed to be doing now, even when they are still young, to help build a foundation for their future friendships.
My three TIPS for raising daughters:
Yes ^^ in my already INFINITE wisdom of being a mother with a daughter, I have three MUST DO’S for raising women to have healthy GIRL relationships.
Judge all you want,,, stop reading this article if you think it’s ridiculous that I would offer up tips without having tested them as tried and true. OR walk the trenches with me. Realize that the world changes so rapidly these days that if I waited to tell you what “worked” for our family, it would probably be obsolete advice anyway.
So here it is, my Top 3 Tips For Raising a Daughter … to have healthy friendships.
Provide the opportunity for healthy friendships to grow.
This means being a place that welcomes other moms and their daughters with open arms. Recognizing that feelings and emotions and getting hurt are all a part of learning to navigate relationships, what our children need is not to avoid the awkward of this, but to build the skills to heal and repair when needed.
I literally suggested to my girlfriends that we have “regular” dates for the girls, for growing up together, doing fun things together, learning what it means to be feminine with one another.
I offered up in-home manis and pedis … which I thought was fun (again, there are ways in which I am so obviously a new girl mom). I was reminded that those activities involve a lot of wait time as the paint dries … and girls are still children so staying still is …. well, not the greatest suggestion.
I ALSO suggested tea and cookies, I could provide the tea but would leave the delicate crumpets and cookies to my Pin-Perfect Pam moms. << That was a better suggestion apparently.
We, as mothers, need to model what it means to have a healthy female relationship.
YIKES! That is a tall order (caution: it’s not the TALLEST on my list). We need to know, ourselves, what it means to have a good girlfriend. How to flourish in friendship, and how to bounce back when feelings might be hurt or offenses may have been laid.
As grown women, we need to be confident in this area so that our daughters know what it looks like in a practical sense.
I honestly KNOW you are shuddering right now. Thinking of all the ladies in your life that are “friends”, but not REALLY. Like, you have the select group you do fun things with, you have the ones you chat about “life” with, but you can’t really *honestly* say which ones you do life with.
As I mention modeling healthy friendships as mothers, you are recounting all the ladies you walks (or ran) away from because their friendship became “work”. The ones who hurt you or the ones you hurt. You’re thinking of the ladies who make you feel amazing, and the ones who make you feel invisible. And you’re wondering how WE model friendship.
GIRL >> we have to GROW in this capacity. We have to recognize all the baggage and hurt we carry from lifetime of craptastical friendships and failure and we have to start unpacking and off-loading. Letting go of the past and growing into the future. Remembering that we are all broken with shattered dreams of besties for life. Meeting our mom friends in the carnage and collateral damage of past relationships and getting along.
“Why can’t we all just get along?”
As moms, we need to master the mom friend game so that our daughters can see the blessing of community modeled in OUR lives and trickled into their own as they learn the ropes.
We need to have a deep and meaningful relationship with our daughter.
Told you it gets harder with every suggestion.
We need to start this whole “healthy female relationships” at home. With our daughter.
And I am not trying to say that you have to be your little lady’s best friend. I don’t actually think it is possible because you must always, FIRST, be mom. But you need to do life with your daughter in a way that creates a bond for eternity.
This is the hardest step for most because MOSTo f use have a LOT of wreckage here. We didn’t have these relationships with OUR mothers, how are we to foster it in our homes?
This is where the real growth and God moments come in. In learning to foster our own relationships, to build security in our on homes.
For many of us, this is like hacking through the thick underbrush of the Amazon forest. Unchartered territory. It’s scary and we KNOW it’s going to be a lot of work.
But work is not a bad thing, growth is not something to be feared but to be embraced as we work to know better and do better.
This is, for me, one of the most intimidating steps (not that any of the first two suggestions didn’t make me want to run and hide). But it is also the most encouraging.
I find encouragement in the reminder that my own motherly relations, whether with my birth mother or my step mother, need not impede my relationship with my own daughter. That no matter how broken the past examples my be, I have a perfect father in our Lord. His example of training us up in grace and truth is perfect. So, while we may have had subpar examples (and don’t we all, because *let’s be honest* no one can live up to His perfect standard) we have a flawless example.
Not only that, but we are given abounding grace and forgiveness on this journey, and so – as much as we may mess up (and we will) – we can ask for forgiveness and look to continued growth.
The fact of the matter is, having a daughter (as with having sons) is a tremendous responsibility. We need to be made uncomfortable on this journey so that we can be aware of the ways we need to grow.
All in all, my daughter, in the short time she has been here so far, has reminded me that there is beauty in friendship and a desperate need for women to “perfect” the art of friendship so that our shortcomings and self-conscious fears do not become as deep a part of their reality as it is ours.
I say it often, whenever I talk about how we eat, how often we move, how we speak etc. our burden is to release our children of these weights so that they can confidently run toward God’s kingdom this side of heaven. To release them of petty fears so that they are free to flourish in new and exciting ways.
We can choose to change the script an remind them of God’s had and blessings in healthy relationships. In friends who do more than coffee together but who traverse life together. Willing to ask for prayer. Desperate to bend a knee and petition for one another. And strong enough to hold each other accountable to a life lived for God.
These relationships, built on and in faith, are the ones without the noise of insecurities. The friendships forged in the furnace of truth AND grace, fostered at home and modeled daily in the lives of us, the mothers. The women desperate to release the chains of doubt and fear.
So, while muddy jeans and wrestling matches may have been what I felt comfortable in, God does not call us INTO our comfort zones but pushes us so far from that security that they only option we have is to run straight into His loving arms. For wisdom, strength and grace for the journey.