Make Her Coming-of-Age Sacred
by Robin Jones Gunn
All the signs are there, aren’t they? Your daughter is changing. Her body, her emotions and even her expressions are shifting.
As her mom, you try to remember how you felt at that age. The memories might be filled with unpleasant reminders of the awkwardness and embarrassment that accompanied your journey into puberty. You might feel ill-equipped to create a positive experience for your daughter, let alone initiate something sacred with her.
Let me help you.
My pre-adolescent passage into womanhood was not good. When our daughter turned nine, I saw all the signs and knew that I wanted her experience to be different than mine. I wanted to create a positive and affirming moment for her. The last thing I wanted was for her to carry on the tradition of silence and shame that had followed the women in my family for generations. But how could I do that?
Here is where I started. These three steps were essential for me to prepare myself before my daughter entered adolescence.
- Put on Your Oxygen Mask First. We hear the instructions every time we get on a plane. You adjust your flow of life-giving oxygen first and then assist your child. This is your first step as her mom. We are experiencing a cultural “loss of cabin pressure” when it comes to common morals and values. You need to reach for the life-giving assistance to fill you up before you try to help her. Fortunately, the resources are plentiful through books, podcasts, blogs, radio and social media. Make sure you are connected to sources that stream the kind of content into your heart that draws you closer to God and His truth.
- Make Peace with Your Past. It’s time for you, dear Mama, to move into the future with an uncluttered heart. If you need to talk with a qualified Christian counselor, please do so. If you need to forgive someone or ask for forgiveness, don’t hesitate. Making that phone call, sending that email or writing that heartfelt letter might be the most courageous thing you have ever done. The result can lead you into a brand new, fresh place in your life where you feel free at last to fully become the woman God created you to be. He can heal you. You can be at peace. This will make all the difference as your daughter heads into her teen years.
- Plan. Set aside a time and place when you will look your pre-adolescent daughter in the eye and with much love tell her the mysteries of how God made her body. Practice the words you will use to tell her about the changes that will soon happen as she enters womanhood. When you plan your together time, think of what she likes. Make the moment special and fun so that she knows you are intentionally celebrating her and elevating the wonder of her femineity. Give her everything she needs to be prepared for when she has her first period.
My daughter loved tea parties, music and dance. So, as soon as I got my heart uncluttered from my bumpy past, I planned a party for just the two of us. I put an invitation on her pillow the night before and got a special mini cake from the bakery. I had a gift bag ready for her and everything set up in the living room.
I planned my words and read to her from Psalm 139, telling her how she was “fearfully and wonderfully made.” I told her that a woman’s body nurtures and bears new life. For our bodies to do that, God designed menstruation.
The conversation rolled along naturally and comfortably. She asked a lot of questions. I was clear but sparing with my answers. She loved the gift bag items of the lotion, lip balm, body spray and panty liners. She loved the decorated sugar cubes and stirred them into the hot tea in her special china teacup.
It was lovely. All of it. My time with my daughter was the exact opposite of what my experience had been. We were not having “the talk.” We were starting the conversation.
Our private, mother-daughter moment became even more sacred when we prayed together. I did not expect the words of her innocent prayer to undo me the way they did. She thanked God for making her a woman. She thanked Him that one day soon she would start her period.
I had never thanked God for that. But that day, I did.
As I prayed with her, I thanked God that He made my body in such a way that I had been given the gift of carrying inside me and birthing this beautiful human soul who was my daughter. We said, “Amen,” cried a little and hugged. Then we got up and danced, because twirling and laughing together has always been our favorite thing.
My daughter is now married and has two children of her own. We still twirl and laugh together a lot. Both of us look back on that sacred little tea party and realize that was the day we became something more than just mom and daughter. We launched into our next season as “kindred spirits” with lots of room to talk and grow as she rolled into her teen years and beyond.
Do you see why this is such a valuable gift? You have within your power the ability to create a sacred, memorable coming-of-age celebration for the tween girl in your life. Tea party, hike in the woods, night at a hotel—it doesn’t matter what you do together. Make it something she values, and she will never forget your time together.
It also doesn’t matter how you came to be the “mom” figure she looks to; whether by birth, adoption, marriage, mentoring or other happy circumstance. It falls on you to be the one who welcomes her into womanhood. A barrage of voices continually competes for her attention. She needs you to be the truth-teller in her young and impressionable life.
Be intentional. Be free. Be grateful and go make a sacred fuss over her.
Robin Jones Gunn is the bestselling author of Preparing Your Daughter for Womanhood – A Guide for Moms, the Christy Miller series and award-winning Father Christmas novels that inspired three Hallmark movies.
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