CULTIVATING A HEALTHY MOTHER-DAUGHTER RELATIONSHIP

Editor’s Note: This month on the Redeemed Girl blog we invited some incredible women to share wisdom and advice on motherhood! We believe motherhood is a sacred calling and we are never too young or too old to learn about this vital role. We are so thrilled about the women who will share their wisdom with you this month. This week’s contributor is no exception. Cheryl Scruggs has a powerful story of redemption and restoration by God’s grace and is now an author, speaker, and biblical counselor with her husband, Jeff. Together they founded Hope Matters Marriage Ministries. We asked if she would share a few tidbits about her relationship with her two daughters, Brittany and Lauren. We hope you glean some incredible wisdom from Cheryl! –Blake

I’m sitting here. It’s the month of May. Mother’s Day month. Tears trickle down my cheeks.

It’s supposed to be a day where my daughters honor me as their mom, but my heart skips a beat, and it fills with intense joy because I find myself wanting to celebrate them instead! I am so grateful that God has been so gracious to me by choosing to use them to mold and shape me.

Moms and daughters. How do we navigate such a dynamic duo?

I have two radiant, captivating daughters, Brittany and Lauren. They are now almost 27 years old, both married; both brilliant; both very different!

And what a history we have.

After giving birth, one thing I had to grasp very quickly was the huge role I had in leading, guiding and influencing them through life.

Life…..wow.

I had to take a deep breath. Being nervous about this responsibility was an understatement. Without having a close intimate relationship with my own mom, tackling this endeavor was a bit foreign to me! I dived right in. I had to. I was committed. More than committed. I was ready for the joyous ride, and my desire was to love them with the deepest love I could muster up.

By the time the girls were two, I had made some horrible mistakes. I had an affair. I left their dad. We divorced when they were four. Ugh. I knew what I had done was wrong. I wanted to stop the avalanche, but felt incapable. What was wrong with me?

I was broken. Sad. Confused.

Then Jesus swooped me up into His arms and said He loved me. That’s what changed it all.

I finally put two and two together. Because of the love Jesus gifted to me, now I was able to love my daughters fully and unconditionally with God’s help.

And to top it off, by God’s redeeming grace, their dad and I remarried each other after 7 years of divorce. My new understanding of Love is what catapulted me to a new level of being a mom.

My thoughts on what makes a healthy mother/daughter relationship deepened when the girls were four. Being open, transparent and vulnerable with each other are key ingredients. Working together to understand each other, offering each other grace, and being willing to deeply know each other is paramount.

I had to lead in that. I was the mom, and it was my responsibility. I had to tell them my story at age appropriate times. The real story. The good. The bad. The in-between. Not some made up, fake, “hope this sounds good”, perfected story that many moms think they need to have. Helping them see that God had a narrative planned for them as well helped deepen our conversations. And He is still creating that story: the race; the walk through life each of us is presented with!

It hit me that by sharing the depth of who I was, what struggles plagued my soul, and divulging my past created a healthy, safe environment for my daughters at an early age. This gave them the freedom to share anything with me. I wanted them to know I was not perfect, and more importantly they didn’t have to be. Instinctively my goal was to create depth, and more than anything……..trust. Creating an aura where a daughter can breathe her true authentic self and can fully disclose her heart, emotions and faults with her mom is divine.

We have all heard the phrase “love unconditionally.” Daughters need to know everyday, and most importantly, hear it said, that they are loved and accepted. And moms need to know the same thing. Life has the ability of throwing us many curveballs, and we are all navigating through it. We don’t have the ability to run the race set before us perfectly. We need each other. The bond developed and nurtured between a mom and daughter can be one of the greatest gifts on earth to help us do that.

What are some pitfalls to avoid?

One thing I often notice between moms and daughters when the going gets a little shaky (and it normally does at some point) is they back away from each other. They stop pursuing each other. It is in those moments that the mom needs to step up and be the mature one. Don’t pull away; press in! Relationships take work, and no one said it would be easy. As a mom, a continual path of offering yourself to your daughter is what wins her heart.

Get in the habit of having a listening ear. Understand and hear what they are trying to say. One of my weaknesses is jumping in too soon, trying to give advice or guidance before they finish sharing. Most of the time, what they want is for me to listen! Daughters often shut down because their mom acts like the expert on everything, so they just come away feeling misunderstood.

The cool thing is that moms and daughters can be terrific friends, but that time and place is when the daughter is a grown adult. There are aspects of the relationship along the way that mimic friendship, but for a season, a mom needs to be a mom! A deep friendship can develop when the daughter transitions into adulthood and is leading her own life. Some moms try to be friends too early in a young girl’s life when a daughter needs the guidance of a mother! Hang tight because the friendship will come, and it’s a blast!

Moms often miss out on so much of life because their whole identity is in their daughter. Moms lose focus of who they are and what they are talented at. This puts much pressure on a daughter to make sure mom is happy or content. Freedom comes from allowing our daughters to spread their wings, to live and be who God wants them to be. In order for them to do that, we as moms need to do the same.

How in the world do we transition to independence?

When a mom and daughter are so close, I think the hard struggle can be transitioning into the many different phases of life; junior high to high school; high school to college; college to adulthood, and for sure transitioning into marriage! As a daughter, it’s important to learn to go to your husband first. As a mom, you have to take a back seat to the husband, and that is a shift! The mom and daughter both have to create healthy boundaries while remembering there is plenty of room for both relationships! Most recently, one of my girls came to me for advice about an argument she and her husband were having, and I had to bite my tongue! My first instinct was to protect my daughter and offer my wisdom, but I was able to withhold advice and ask her if she had talked to her husband first. That was tough because I wanted to jump right in! She later told me that the way I handled that situation was so eye opening and created more healthiness within her.

To conclude, it’s definitely important to transition into independence, but it’s still so fun and enriching to continue deepening the mother/daughter relationship. As my girls and I have gotten older, it’s so amazing to see how the relationship shifts. Yes, I’m still their mom, but we are great friends. It’s truly the biggest gift!

Cheryl Scruggs
Hope for Marriages
@cherylscruggs + @hopeformarriages

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