On Raising Girls

Oct 10, 2012 | Faith

My one and only daughter is coming home tomorrow.

She’s twenty-one. Not a child.

Every mother knows in her heart,

that adult child is still a toddler with fingers curled around hers.

As my Firstborn comes home, well seasoned to college life, my heart weeps with joy and regret over our path.

Thankful for time invested and for time redeemed.

The following list is one I posted two years ago when she left for college.

Two years later,  fruit of time and faith sown into a child is evident.  Seeds God grew at just the right time.

Things I Would Do Again

  • be home full-time to watch her grow
  • have tea parties
  • play dress ups
  • read her books
  • take her to parks
  • sing to her
  • have play dates
  • lay beside her bed and pray for her when she’s sleeping
  • take her to museums
  • take her on a road trip
  • be honest about my life when she asked hard questions
  • have her dad intervene when she wouldn’t listen to me
  • have her dad date her when other girls had boyfriends
  • tell her dad what girls need to hear
  • write her notes when she didn’t want to listen to me
  • make time for her even when exhausted
  • talk to her about sex at age-appropriate levels
  • stand firmly even when it hurts
  • hold her loosely
  • stay up late when she wanted to talk

Things I Would Have Done Differently

  • trusted God earlier and more often
  • bit my tongue more
  • walked away more
  • let her and her brothers work out fights more on their own
  • given her space more often
  • realized some things are just that way, and it’s okay
  • realized earlier she’s not me
  • listened more
  • lectured less
  • prayed more
  • been more patient
  • told her I was proud of her
  • appreciated her more
  • encouraged her more
  • given more grace
  • hugged her more
  • held her just one more time

Somewhere between Barney and the mountains of Virginia, God took these seeds and watered them well.  He yanked  out weeds choking growth when shoots were tender.

When she was five, I realized for the first time she was not a product of me.

As an adult, I realize she’s absorbed things I didn’t think she was paying attention to.

That’s the mystery of parenting.

The things you think you’re responsible for, you’re not

The things you doubt they absorb, they do.

The other mystery of parenting?

Somewhere between Barney and Virginia,

they grow up

So neither he who plants or he who waters is anything, but only God makes things grow.  I Co 3:7


Daughters are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from Him.  Psalm 127:3



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  1. Tracy

    Hi Brenda, I have 2 daughters and one is 19. Also pretty much grown up, she thinks, lol. This is also a great post for me to read and trust that God has her heart and life in His hands.
    God bless

    • brendayoder

      Tracy, your daughter is beautiful! I loved seeing her pictures. I’m sure as our girls grow up they will always be grown up in their eyes and be our baby girls in ours. I’m so thankful He does have them in His hands.

  2. Lidia

    Brenda, I imagine we’re face to face on a quiet afternoon by the sea… sipping coffee… and we’re talking about our daughters. I also have just one and I love her very much. I know like you I have my share of regrets… but also, like you, a lot of joys at realizing that somewhere along the way, I have done a lot of right things. My daughter is 27 now, and I am amazed at how beautifully she has blossomed. Yes, it is all by the grace of God. I rejoice with you, as you see the fruit of your many prayers offered for your only daughter. May you have a meaningful time together.


  3. Inkspots

    Your heartfelt transparency is inspiring — whether we’re raising boys or girls! Thanks, Brenda, for sharing.

    • brendayoder

      Thank you Ingrid, for your kind words and for hearing more of the story at lunch today and sharing it with me. You are a great mom of boys.

  4. Janette's Sage

    I couldn’t have said it any better…then again my only daughter is 21 among five brothers…but she isn’t my first, she is my fourth. Bite my tongue more..yes, believe God more…yes, and realized that although I never wanted her to skin her knee, God knew what she needed to bring her to him and trust Him with her whole heart. My daughter’s journey has had more than I would have ever wanted for her…but then she turns and says, “mom it is my testimony!” She got the most important part…everything else…well it is fluff

    • brendayoder

      Oh, Janette. It sounds like our daughter’s journeys are similar. I’m learning I’d rather have a daughter who knows the Lord because of adversity than to have one who only knows fluff. Very well said, friend!

  5. Jen @ Richfaithrising

    Burdened over one of my little girls today, this post struck me with truth. Found you from Tracy’s at My Daily Walk. Will be visiting more often. ~ jen

    • brendayoder


      Thank you so much for sharing. A mother’s heart is burdened for her children over and over again. I pray God’s word will speak truth to you over and over again as you minister to your daughters.

  6. Amelia

    Oh how fast the years fly by. Thank you for sharing these important reminders for those of us who are still in the thick of these young elementary years!

    • brendayoder

      Yes, those elementary years go fast though on certain days they seem really long!

  7. Denise

    What wonderful words of love for your daughter Brenda. I have two grown daughters too, and I share many of the same praises and things I would have done differently on your list.
    Enjoy time and be blessed with your daughter’s return home!

    • brendayoder

      Thank you Denise! It’s good to know the good things and redo’s are common experiences in parenting. It’s nice to walk these roads together!

  8. Kim Mishler

    Definitely needed to see your list Brenda! Both of them! I’m learning how different girls are from boys and sometimes wonder if I’m dealing with all of it the way God wants me to. This was so helpful! Thanks

      • brendayoder

        Thank you Tanya!

    • brendayoder

      Thanks, Kim. Oh, how different girls are from boys. You are a woman who is close to God along the walk, and when focused on Him, He gets us there! You’re doing good mama!

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