So, who made it through the move in weekend? Kudos. I’m sure you are physically and emotionally exhausted, like we are. It’s such a bittersweet time, isn’t it? I know I have only been in my stepchildren’s life for about 8 years, but I feel like they are my own kids. I am so proud of them, would do anything for them and love them with everything I’ve got. It’s an honor to walk beside them through this season of young adulthood. Even though it’s a crazy time, it’s a beautiful time to watch them grow into who God created them to be.
The reason I wanted to write this is because I feel a call to mothers and daughters, especially the ones trying to navigate college life and beyond. I understand this season of life from the child perspective because I’ve walked through it myself (and struggled). I am walking my stepchildren through it, and I’ve walked my coaching clients through it. I know the relationship between mom and daughter at this time can be strained so I wanted to say a few things to help you should you be in that spot.
There is a book called, “Captivating” by Stasi Eldredge. If you haven’t read it, you must. In it, she touches on the Mother/Daughter relationship,
“The relationship between a mother and daughter is a holy, tender, fierce thing fraught with land mines and umbilical cords that stretch and sometimes strangle. The desire in a daughter to please her mother is matched only by her desire to be separate from her. Most mother/daughter relationships go through a stormy season during the girl’s adolescence…The way a mother weathers this stormy season of her daughter’s transition from girlhood to womanhood can affect their relationship for the rest of their lives.”
It’s not just the daughters who struggle with the transition, but the moms. So this letter is for you…
To the moms,
Congratulations on getting your kid to the college season of life.
You probably feel a little off, maybe like you lost an appendage. But you will get through this. You have to let her go to grow, so you can grow too. Let her leave the nest, spread her wings and fall on a few branches so she can learn the valuable lessons she can only learn by experiencing them herself. So give her space.
Let her make the choices about who she wants to be. Remember it’s her life, not yours. This will be difficult, but she will respect you more if you let her grow into herself rather than trying to be her best self for you. You don’t want to have your daughter put on a happy face trying to keep you happy, when she’s feeling awful on the inside. You want her to be real as she can be with herself, and you.
The best way you can teach her to be real, is to be real yourself. Find your wings. Find that passion you put on the back burner raising her. Find that part of you that needs some healing, and get the help you need to move forward. Don’t go it alone. Taking care of you means taking care of you on all fronts. Not just a workout or a pedicure, but an overhaul. Lead by example. Drop the “Everything’s fine” attitude, because it doesn’t work for this generation and just get real. The more real you are with yourself, the more you’ll teach her to do the same. The more fake and surface you are, the less she’ll see how to be real. Don’t pretend to have it all together, and don’t try to be the coolest mom in the bunch either. Be you. Show her that scars are beautiful.
Support her. Be FOR her. Be conscious of your inner critic that busts out with her, because she’s trying to figure out who she is right now and is sensitive. If she struggles, don’t try to fix it with a band-aid or make it all about what you did, because then it’s more about you than her. Just let her find her way and if she asks for help, tell her you will help her navigate through it. Whatever you do, don’t act like you can fix it. You are too close to the fire as the mom. You can’t do it alone.
If she’s never saying a thing and always acting like “everything’s fine”, be aware that she might be putting up a good front to please you. Encourage her to be herself, not to do it for you. Love her through her ups and downs. Never be the one who reinforces that Unhealthy Voice she has that makes her think she’s only good enough if she’s got the best grades, the hottest boyfriend, the best career track, or worse – the best body. Love your daughter for who she is no matter what, because you may have raised her, but God created her. It may be hard to believe, but God’s got her and he actually loves her (and you) more than you. He’s got both of you. He’s in control (if you trust him). And if you don’t believe me, get to know him a little bit more. He’s not just in the walls of a church on Sunday. He’s right there wanting a relationship with you and loving you right where you are at. So if you are at your wits end and feel completely overwhelmed by this season of your life, reach out for help. If you cry out to God, he will lay the path out for you as you go and give you a better life than you could have imagined. But you’ve got to trust Him.
If you want to learn more about this, I’ll be doing a weekly Facebook Live video this fall on my author page at Meredith Terpeluk. Make sure to go follow me and be part of the discussion when I post what it will be each week! Also know that I posted the daughters blog on http://www.findyourhealthyvoice.com/the-healthy-voice-blog/ if you’d like to see it! And one more thing – if you have a daughter who really struggles, or you do – do not hesitate to reach out. I’m not a therapist or a counselor, but I am someone who can walk beside her/you and guide her/you through this time of transition.)
Good Luck and Godspeed to you and your daughter in the coming school year!!