I’ve found myself taking note lately of what I do say, and want to say, to my girls. Part of it is because I’m trying to be more intentional about the words I choose, part of it is because I want to do my best to help build up our relationships and create a lasting, strong bond to keep us going through the tweens and teens and young adult years. Also, as I think about it, each of these things I am sharing are things that build us up as confident women in a world that still seems to drag us down and tell us we aren’t good enough. This is about loving our girls, building them up, letting them know of their worth.
I love you.
Say it, mean it, say it even when she scowls. She will sometimes, but you love her anyway. Make sure she knows! Tell her often, and show her in your actions.
I am sorry.
Mamas, how often have we fallen short? I have more times than I want to admit, but when my wrongs hurt my girls, apologizing and admitting my mistake shows our girls courage, humility, and how to be contrite. Asking their forgiveness teaches them to forgive. Be this kind of example, and see how it might transform your relationship.
Do your best, in everything.
In doing so, we give glory to God. Also, show in your actions that you do as you say. Mamas, do your best in everything, stop making excuses, and show your girls how to push harder than their limitations and fears and be their best. Teach them that “best” is not the same as “perfect”, and the only “best” they should be striving for is their own. Striving to be our best selves, as women and girls made in God’s image, is the best to work towards, in all things. So stop grumbling over dishes and laundry and spilled milk (not kidding…I have 5 kids. The messes never end), and do your best at the little and big things.
God loves you, so much.
He has a beautiful plan for you, dear daughter. When hardships, tween and teen drama, and struggles threaten to bring our girls down, they need to remember that God has bigger, better, and more beautiful plans for them than what the world offers. Their friends may turn on them, they may struggle with grades, they will face unknown troubles…and having faith in God and His plan will help so much to overcome the hard days.
You can change the world with your love.
My daughter commented recently that she could work for peace in the world when she grows up. I told her she can work for peace now. Bl. Teresa of Calcutta said the best way to promote world peace is to love your family. Start that! Our girls need to feel empowered to love, and to know how important it is to love courageously. It might help to share stories of other young girls and women who did great things, inspired by their love for family and neighbor and God.
Take hard things one step at a time.
Sometimes, things in life will seem so hard they feel impossible. But, most things can be tackled one step at a time. Math problems, essays, riding a bike, learning to ski, navigating friendships…whatever the “hard thing” is, take it one step at a time. Then take the next step. Repeat. It’s much simpler to do that, than to try to see the whole picture and solution from the start.
Sometimes life is going to be hard. Really hard. And it won’t be easy to do the right thing…but we need to encourage our girls *now* to be brave, face the challenges, and try their hardest. I am sharing saint stories, as well as stories of amazing women in history, to help illustrate what bravery can look like, even in young girls! These are the sorts of examples our girls need; not the “role models” of the media.
Be kinder than necessary.
How often do our girls face situations in which it would be so easy to shoot back a snarky remark and dirty looks? How often do they see us do that? It might make us as women feel better at the moment, like we have gained the upper hand, but choosing kindness even when it seems impossible is never a bad choice. Be kind to the girl who gives no reason to be friendly to her. Speak with grace to others, even when we have to set boundaries. Go the extra step to reach out to a new child at school or in the neighborhood. Smile often. As Bl. Teresa of Calcutta said, “Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness…”
You are wonderfully and beautifully made.
These words, Moms, these words are so important. In our culture saturated with touched-up images, plastic faces, enhanced breasts, tucked tummies, and make-overs, it is crucial that our girls have a strong sense of worth and inner beauty, because they are wonderfully and beautifully made by their loving Creator. We can tell them and show them that beauty comes from within, and even physical beauty is God-given to each of us. Our girls are beautiful, unique, and wonderfully made. Let them know it!
I enjoy doing things and being with you.
No matter which stage you are in, be it stories and dolls, or lunch dates and shopping for well-fitting tween clothes, or rare girl nights with teens, or even rarer ladies’ nights with a grown daughter, let your sweet girl know that you enjoy being with her, and doing things together. She might not like your favorite thing to do, and you may not like hers…but enjoy each other’s company, and let her know it. It’s like telling her that you love her, only now you’re also telling her that you like to be with her.
**images created using the Rhonna Designs app available for smart phones**