Life with a Tween Girl

Walking into her room told the tale of our tween age / middle age angst.

I’m in a season of letting go. I want spare, clean . . . space.

She seems to thrive on clutter.

I’ve developed a reverence for time that makes it sacred.

And she, well she’s barely aware of it.

Time is for wasting and there are never enough hours for sleep. She, of the Taylor Swift generation, could sleep all day. She of the rolling eyes and slumped shoulder attitude. It’s hard to know how to reach her. She’s sensitive and fragile and everything in my natural mind says stay far away. My spirit however says something different.


I want her to cling to the Christ she sees in me.


No matter how far she tries to push me away. My spirit says keep close.

Leggings and jackets and books, a lone glove, and a Snickers wrapper strewn across her bed tell the story of her carefree life and the mess of it all; the direct rebellion to any semblance of order I try to maintain tells our story. We’re oil and water, the last minute glimpse of a setting sun and the mysterious rise of a full moon. Bless her heart, she’s got a pre-menopausal mama. The cocktail of hormones that make mothers and daughters a little too much alike have begun to eclipse her in alien-like fashion. The princess wants to be queen. I’m not having it.

Too often my words hit her the wrong way. I’m too harsh, too honest . . . I don’t have enough time.

It’s funny how the older they get the more they need you.

I imagined these years differently. I imagined solo travel and an easy connection with someone I somewhat understood. We have all that, but it’s rare. It happens in the odd pockets of space where I haven’t offended her. And I manage to do that . . . all the time. More often than not my words have hijacked our precious attempts at mother/daughter bonding. And then . . . silence. Sometimes it’s easier to shut myself off. Let us both slither off to lick our wounds in the privacy of a virtual world. Facebook for me, Get Ready with Me videos on YouTube for her.

With us it’s all about attitude and action. Her attitude and my action. Or lack of it. I clam up.

In rare moments of stillness we have tea. Chai or green, raspberry . . . it doesn’t matter. It’s a peaceful ritual to help me connect with my girl. A warm bag of herbs mingling in a huge ceramic mug is the perfect first step on a road I hope leads to her heart. A little honey might do the trick.

She’s changing. This is the tricky spot where I can bond with her forever or encourage a deep wedge – a chasm of misunderstanding and hurt feelings. I could lose her. I’m changing. This is the tricky spot where I too often get lost in the wanderings of my midlife heart.

In biblical times she’d be of marriageable age. Perhaps promised from birth to wed a family friend. The bible doesn’t tell me what to do with a tween age girl beyond loving Jesus and preparation for marriage. When I think about a model for a relationship between mother and daughter I turn to the story of Naomi and Ruth.

But Ruth replied, “Don’t make me leave you, for I want to go wherever you go and to live wherever you live; your people shall be my people, and your God shall be my God . . .

Ruth 1:16 (The Living Bible)

I want my daughter to love me like Ruth loved Naomi.

I want her to choose me. I want that kind of connection. That kind of respect. That kind of devotion.

I want her to trust me enough to consider my opinion when it’s time for her to marry. To have that, I’ll have to hold her heart gently. I’ll have to make sure what she sees lines up with what I’m saying. I’ll have to model what it’s like to be a godly woman – a guide and example of what love looks like.

I can be a true north, a constant amongst all the things that change.

Ruth could only model trust and devotion because she first saw it in Naomi. Ruth could only model the delicate balance of what to say and when, how to wield words with wisdom, how to apply action to faith  – because of Naomi. And Ruth learned sacrifice – the ultimate surrender and beauty of putting another before yourself. Naomi taught Ruth how to love. And Ruth responded.

Ruth learned to love by being loved.

Friends have shared with me the intense frustration they feel toward their tween and teen aged daughters. It hurts to hear. It hurts more to feel pangs of kinship as I struggle through a relationship with my own girl. So I have to get this right.

I’ve got to push for the more excellent way.

I want to push past my feelings to mother her anyway. I have to.

She deserves it. She deserves a Naomi.

[Tweet “I want her to cling to the Christ she sees in me.”]

With Him we’ll get through this. In Jesus name.

Will you tell me your stories of life with your tween age girl?



10 thoughts on “Life with a Tween Girl”

  1. Pingback: More To Be : Loving a Tween Girl

  2. Michelle Serna

    Thank you for the encouragement. It does seem like it would be easier to just “check out”, but I know in my heart that is not what we need or really want. And it seems it is lasting tooooo long and may never end. But I keep standing, I keep praying, I keep surrounding her with faith and love. I keep binding the Word and Truth, Love, Kindness and Mercy around her neck and heart. I keep praying she will not depart from these but write them on the tablets of her heart. I keep forgiving her and forgiving myself.

    1. I think it’s a familiar feeling, this frustration over our relationships with tween girls. You’re right on point with forgiving her and yourself. We have to. I joke with my husband that I feel like I’m in an abusive relationship with her because I just can’t predict her moods. But I’m leaning in anyway…I know how much she needs me and as I’ve been encouraged I do believe this will pass. And in the meantime – there’s grace. Pray for me I have a 7 year old girl as well. Lol. Thanks for reading Michelle! have a great day!

      1. Michelle Serna

        This scripture often helps me “And let us not lose heart and grow weary and faint in acting nobly and doing right, for in due time and at the appointed season we shall reap, if we do not loosen and relax our courage and faint.” Gal. 6:9 AMP 🙂

        AND Hope – May the God of your hope so fill you with all joy and peace in believing [through the experience of your faith] that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound and be overflowing (bubbling over) with hope.” Rom 15:13 AMP

        And my prayer for you (and me and all moms) “[We pray] that you may be invigorated and strengthened with all power according to the might of His glory, [to exercise] every kind of endurance and patience (perseverance and forbearance) with joy,giving thanks to the Father, Who has qualified and made us fit to share the portion which is the inheritance of the saints (God’s holy people) in the Light.” Col. 1:11-12 AMP

  3. Lisha,
    I smile as I read this, because so many of the words you wrote are words and feelings I whispered to myself when my 18 yr-old was a tween. I can appreciate where you are. I also appreciate God’s Presence in our friendship, because you are open to receive lessons I hard to learn the hard way. You are wise to acknowledge that “It’s funny how the older they get the more they need you.” There is nothing more true. Embrace also that for every lesson you teach her, there are at least as many that she offers to you. Let her know that you are learning together. Thank her for every battle and every agreement. You are raising a warrior woman. She will be forever grateful for all you’ve poured into her. Maybe not today, probably not tomorrow, but someday.
    Carry on, mama, carry on.
    With love and pride,

  4. Your wisdom encourages me Chelle. I do look to women who’ve gone before me because this isn’t anything new…it’s just my turn. I’m pressing in when Spirit leads and giving space when it’s time for that. I love that girl so much. And your right about this giving and taking in relationship as mother and daughter. I’m definitely keeping my eyes and heart open for lessons from her.

  5. Thank you so much for writing such honest words. I have THREE girls, 8,6, 3 and I see the changes starting to happen with my 8 year old. Thank you for the reminder that she needs me MORE not less. But I am SO exhausted all the time! I pray that God will give me endurance to do what I’m called to do!

    Netty in Cali

    1. Key word there Netty – exhaustion. It is tiring and like you I have another girl down the pipe line. She’s 7 now. I noticed the changes around age 10. Slowly at first and now its full on hormonal festivities around here. Today I focused on just saying encouraging things. No matter how I felt, no matter what she threw at me. We had a good day. Thanks for reading and blessings and strength as you mother your girls. Gods called us to it, He’ll get us through it.

  6. My children are grown, but I can remember the hard times we went through. We did come out the other end and all is well now. Even with a teenager having a baby as a senior in high school. Hard, but she took on the responsibility at 18 and has done well. Has a 17 year old now.

  7. I remember my relationship with my mother and the rough patch we went through. And I clearly remember feeling like we’d a=made a big step when I left for college. Something changed about our relationship and she was no longer my advesary. She was my mother and I recognized her as being my best friend. She’d been there all along. I think it just takes us a while to see it. I’ll keep that in mind while mothering my girls – the bigger picture, the other side. Happy to meet you here. Thanks for reading Tessa!

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