I inhaled slowly as my forehead rested on the table. Just moments earlier, my oldest child rolled her eyes and stomped off yet again. My patience was wearing thin.
I have recently moved into a new season: parenting a preteen.
My little girl is turning into a young lady. It’s evident in many ways. Her interests are evolving. She is more conscious of how she presents herself, especially in front of boys. She engages in conversation with a hunger for detail and understanding.
Her moodiness has also increased.
I walked into the kitchen to prepare dinner. My husband and I exchanged dialogue about our daughter’s behavior. Consequences work temporarily. Yet, the same behaviors return a short time later. What could we do differently?
We would stay consistent with our expectations and discipline methods. Yet, we both knew a transformation needed to take place in her heart. But how? I quickly stirred the pan of veggies as they released a loud sizzle.
Now alone in the kitchen, I continued the conversation with God. Lord, show me what to do. Give me wisdom on how to parent this child.
God promises to give us wisdom when we ask. He is faithful in keeping His promises. In the next moment, the Holy Spirit spoke clearly to me.
You must disciple her heart.
My daughter’s heart needs pruning as she grows into her adolescent years. Our mother-daughter connection is strong. Now is the time to strengthen our bond and prohibit a wedge from growing between us. As she experiences changes within, she is entering into a crucial time in her life.
I must disciple her heart through this emotional-up-and-down season.
How To Disciple Our Daughters Through Preadolescence
Are you experiencing a similar season with your daughter? Are you quickly approaching the adolescent years? As moms, we have a unique opportunity to disciple our daughters as they grow into young ladies.
So, what does the discipleship process look like? According to GotQuestions.org:
Christian discipleship is the process by which disciples grow in the Lord Jesus Christ and are equipped by the Holy Spirit, who resides in our hearts, to overcome the pressures and trials of this present life and become more and more Christlike.
We are the primary spiritual influences of our children’s lives. As parents, we have the privilege of teaching our kids how to have a relationship with Christ. We get to train them on how to follow the Holy Spirit’s promptings rather than giving in to every whim and outburst. What an honor!
Our daughters need us more than ever during this chaotic season of hormones and bodily changes. God is calling us to play an active role in the work He wants to do in their hearts.
Here are four key components to shaping your daughter’s heart:
1. Pray for God to Give You the Right Opportunities and for Her Heart to Respond
When tempers are flaring and the moment is heated, we can all agree it’s not the right time to shape her heart. We will fall flat on our faces because her heart is unopened to change in that moment.
So, here’s what we can do. Address the behavior with appropriate consequences. Pray with her when she calms down. Then, find a different time to come back and have more meaningful conversation around her behavior.
Pray over those conversations before they even happen. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you the right words to speak. Ask Him to soften her heart so she can be receptive to His work.
After the Holy Spirit whispered to me ‘disciple her heart’, I began to pray specifically in this way.
God answered my prayer one morning when my daughter and I had the house to ourselves (which is a rarity). Before we headed out for a fun day of shopping, I asked her to grab my Bible and sit at the table with me.
In a natural, unforced way, we opened the Bible and focused on a specific passage about living for God. She listened intently and asked questions. She shared in the discussion. God answered my prayers by giving me this opportunity and preparing her heart for it.
2. Turn to God’s Word to Shape Her Heart
In the Bible, 2 Timothy 3:16 (NLT) states:
All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.
God’s Word is powerful and life-changing. When we turn to God’s Word as the authority in our lives, lasting change will occur. Allow Scripture to transform your daughter’s heart. Take time together to read passages and talk about how God wants us to respond.
Studying God’s Word together is a key component in the discipleship process.
Here are practical ways you can turn to the Bible as you disciple her:
• When you and your daughter have free time, invite her to spend one-on-one time with you. Take a few moments to read from the Bible. Make it fun as you show her how to spend time with God.
• When your daughter is struggling with certain behaviors or challenges, dive into the Word together. Have her read and memorize verses specific to her situation. Teach her how to take key verses and turn them into prayers that she prays out loud.
• When she asks questions or needs direction, take her to God’s Word to find the answers. Show her how to use the topical index of her Bible so she can discover the answers.
God will speak to her through the pages of the Bible. He understands your daughter’s heart better than you do. He knows exactly what she needs. Trust Him as you open the Bible together. Lean into Him. The Holy Spirit will give you inspiration for your time together.
When my daughter and I spent time in God’s Word, I felt inspired to grab index cards and pens. We read and discussed a particular passage that I’ve been wanting to share with her. Then, we grabbed a handful of index cards. We recorded four ways the Holy Spirit was leading us to change. I watched as she worked diligently on creating her note cards.
My daughter felt inspired as well. She asked if we could choose one card per week to put into action. She even asked for accountability throughout the week. God-ideas are the best!
The Bible is God’s Word to us. Scripture has the power to transform our hearts. Let’s make it a priority to turn to His Word as we disciple our daughters.
3. Cultivate a Relationship of Trust with Her
As your daughter grows, allow your relationship to grow with her. Be attentive to her needs. Give her space when she needs it. Build trust by listening intently and valuing what she has to say. Make sure she knows she can come to you for anything.
When she comes to you, refrain from overreacting to the big things and avoid brushing off the small things. Every bit of her world is a big deal to her. She needs to know it matters to you as well.
Be the voice of reassurance as she looks to you for guidance. Speak life-giving words to her. Communicate the truth in love as you lead her into God’s ways. Allow the Holy Spirit to guide you in these delicate moments with your daughter. Always, always pray over her.
4. Keep Her Close
I can’t emphasize this point enought: Keep her close through these years. Sometimes you may feel like it’s easier to throw your hands up in the air and walk away. Maybe you find it pointless to even try with her. Don’t give up!
Nurture your relationship with her. Take her out on special outings where you can create fun memories. Maintain a close bond. Laugh together often. Be intentional about having fun together.
As you cherish this precious relationship, she will more likely respond to your efforts as you pour into her. These years may come with rough patches but you can enjoy them as you help her navigate the many changes and emotions she’s experiencing.
Let’s Keep At It!
As a parent, there is no greater joy than to see our kids walking closely with Christ. God wants to use you, Mom, as He transforms her heart. You have a special role to play in her life.
Pray over her, teach her God’s Word, show her how to have a relationship with Jesus, maintain a trustful bond, and keep her close.
Yes, some days are exhausting. Maybe you’re not seeing change take place quite yet. But one day you will look back. Memories of late-night prayers will resurface. You will recall hours of conversations you shared on the same topics. You may even conjure up feelings of frustrations you experienced in those desperate moments.
But all of that will pale in comparison to who your daughter has become. It will be well worth it.
Let’s remember, God gives wisdom freely to us whenever we ask Him for it. Take a moment right now and ask God to give you wisdom today as you raise your daughter.