A Note from Mary Margaret West: We’re talking all about teen girl moms this week! Today’s post is to those of you who aren’t moms of teen girls, but they’re in your life and you’re looking for ways to intentionally minister to them. I hope this gives you some foundational ideas and tools to love and encourage them well.
To know me well is to often hear me use the phrase “mom friends.” For example, I ran into one of my favorite “mom friends” this morning and caught up on life. I talked with another this week whose father passed away. When I dreamed about girls ministry and the ways it would take shape in my life, I never imagined just how much I would love not only connecting with these girls but knowing their mamas, calling them friends, and learning so much from each of them. These women have not only been the moms of my girls to me, but friends who have been in my corner on hard days and celebrated me through the exciting ones.
While these relationships can be so very fruitful and sweet, they can also be intimidating depending on the relationship I have with their daughter, the daughter has with her mom, or both. Here are a few steps I have learned along the way to loving girls well and having great mom friends.
1. Know them.
This can come more naturally than you think. At first I wondered how I would come to know the moms who dropped their girls off and picked them up after. But I came to look forward to catching up with the moms of my girls on the bleachers of tennis matches and pews of honors inductions, as much as I did connecting with the girls. Knowing their name, their other kids names, and recognizing if they have changed their hair or commenting on a recent trip their family took can go along way.
And I have found these moms want to know me. As a voice speaking into their daughters’ lives they want to follow me on Instagram, know about my story, and grab lunch with me after church.
2. Pray for them.
Prayer can seem like such a small thing but I am a true believer that it moves mountains. As front row observers into the life of our girls, often we know some of the key prayer needs in the life of the moms of the girls we minister to. Sometimes I pray for their marriage when girls share some difficult things with me and other times I pray for their sanity. Sometimes I pray for them to see some changes in their girl that she is afraid to voice and sometimes I pray for the example a mom is setting of an unhealthy body image will change. My job may not always be to speak into each of these situations as I respect the incredible role a mama has in her daughter’s life, but it is always the Spirit’s job. So I submit to the Spirit’s conviction, leading, and guiding, laying my overthinking concerns at the feet of Jesus.
3. Come alongside them.
It is so very sweet when I am in a scenario where both mom and I are for their girl. For her to be her most whole self running hard after Jesus and all He is calling her to do. In this setting, we can come alongside one another in incredible ways. I have had many weepy breakfasts and phone calls with moms that my girls never knew about as their moms shared things with me about their family or girl that broke their heart. And we can set each other up for wins. I have had moms text me before small group to be prepared that a cat passed away and their girl is sad or that 5 of the 6 girls coming tonight made a certain team and the others didn’t. Similarly, a mom stopped me in the church parking lot last week and said, “Have dinner with my daughter this week.” Because of what she knew was going on in her life. When the goal is a girl living her fullest most devoted life to Jesus, we can be such a united front.
Sometimes, our girls just need us to say what their mom has already been saying but they need to hear it from another voice. One sweet girl of mine got stuck with a really bad boy. Her mom and I had many run ins as her mom struggled to keep her eyelashes on telling me how much it broke her heart and the conversations she had with her girl. As we sat across the table at Chick-fil-A, I found myself telling her daughter many of the exact same things her mom had been sharing with her, just as a voice who loved her but wasn’t her mama. (Moms, I know this one is annoying and I’m sorry.)
4. Love their kids.
There were moms I connected with right away and others who took longer. Most of the others became friends as I proved that I was in their girls’ life to stay. Nothing has meant more to me than when moms have cried telling me how thankful they were for my role in their daughter’s life, something they were worried about they wanted us to work together on, or texted me about a way to pray for their girl. I love sharing with moms ways I see their girls shining. They deal with the everyday and I get to tell them how their girl is taking initiative to be such a good includer to younger girls, a sweet thing their girl may have said about them, or ways I see their girl growing in her faith. And we cry together in the stands of tennis matches, thankful we get to have their special girl in each of our lives.
5. Have a pulse on their family.
I have found when I know the family of the girl I am ministering to, I know how to enter into her life and story so much better. If a girl is telling a story all about “Ralph” and I assume that’s an uncle rather than a dog things can get dicey. Befriending moms helps offer such a realistic picture of this girls’ home life, the messages she is receiving, and how to best love and pray for her family. Showing you know and care what is going on in a family’s life is further proving to moms that you love their kids and are there to stay.
6. Include them.
Mothering a teenage girl is hard. At times you feel like a mental health clinician, taxi driver, chef, teacher, guidance counselor, party planner, maid, and so many roles in between. I love showing my girls that their moms have something to say and something to teach. Often when I am teaching a lesson, I will share a story or lesson one of their own moms taught me. But I have also found these moms are often more willing and ready to help me when they know how much I love their girls. Moms are professional problem solvers that often feel disconnected from their girls once they start driving. Including moms to serve whether it’s through providing a meal, opening their home, or driving an extra car not only provides an opportunity for us to connect, but a way for her to know the life of her girl as she feels valued and included.
At the end of the day, if we are working with a healthy and believing family system, we are all on the same team. These relationships, if intentionally pursued can greatly deepen the impact we get to have on the life of our girls and the families they represent.
Emily Katherine Dalton grew up in Spartanburg, SC and now lives in Rome, GA where she graduated from Berry College, studying Psychology and Spanish. She now serves as an assistant coordinator with the WinShape College Program as she is pursuing a Master of Divinity in Christian Education from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Emily Katherine loves volunteering with middle school and high school girls in her church’s student ministry and working in college ministry. She is a coffee lover, book reader, blogger, and a big fan of a paper planner.