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Mom, She Won't Be 16 Forever

In the mother-teen daughter relationship, my experience is only with the “daughter” side. I’m a mom, but my issues are currently stepping on legos and learning to read instead of proms, breakups, and social media. But I know my turn will come, as my daughter is almost 2. However, during my teen years, I went through the typical mother-daughter issues with my own mom. I argued against what I was allowed to wear, rolled my eyes one too many times, and even earned my bedroom door being removed once.

I’m 31, and my mom is no longer on this earth after a battle with brain cancer. Since she’s with Jesus now, I want to encourage moms that are currently in the trenches what I wish I could tell my mom now.

At 16, I didn’t appreciate my parents’s rules, but I do now. As an adult, I realize they were for my good. Advice on what to wear and curfews really did save me from a lot of heartbreak and harm. I’m now SO thankful for rules and protection, though I’m sure I declared they were the strictest ever (in a dramatic voice, of course). Moms, your teen daughter most likely aren’t thanking you for the rules and how many times you say “no. But if I could go back, if I could look in her eyes right now, I would thank my mom. Because I can see she really did know best, and that her rules were a way of loving me well.

I also wish I could thank my mom for simply sticking by me. I’m sure I wasn’t the easiest person to be around as a teenager. However, she never wavered in her presence in my life. I’m sure on some days, throwing in the towel seems like the easier choice instead of engaging in another tough parenting moment. Instead of giving up on me, my mom kept being my parent. Despite my attitude, she lovingly pushed me, encouraged me, and told me “no” when I needed it. My mom didn’t let the difficulties of our mother-daughter relationship change her impact in my life. I firmly believe who I am today is because of how the Lord used her in my life. Moms, though your daughter may not appreciate your presence now, one day, she’ll see what a gift it is. Continue to lean into engaging with her and pouring into her life, even amidst tough and discouraging days.

Truly, my memories of arguments with my mom about clothes and rules are vague. When I look back, those aren’t the memories that stick out to me. What sticks out is the good stuff. I remember her showing up to Friday night football games and cheer competitions,  her always having the time to listen, and her coming alongside me when a friend hurt my feelings or I experienced heartbreak. Moms, one day, your daughter will look back on this season. I encourage you to keep being her listening ear, encourager, and counselor. Prayerfully, this good stuff is what she’ll remember.

Mamas, these years are tough, I’m sure. However, I encourage you to persevere. I pray this strengthens your heart to keep investing in your teenage daughter. Yes, she has a lot of emotions and drama, but she won’t be 16 forever.

Right now, she probably won’t say it, but she desperately needs you to be her mom.

Right now, she probably won’t say it, but she desperately needs you to be her mom. Though she might not like it, she needs to hear “no” sometimes, to be given sound biblical advice about dating, and to be nudged in the right direction with friendships. One day, she’ll be grown. Of course, there’s no guarantee with how our earthly relationships will turn out, but from experience, the mother-daughter relationship can transform into something beautiful. Truly, I believe my mom and I were just starting to hit that “sweet spot” when she passed. As I entered college and then later became a newlywed, I was no longer the 16 year old needing friendship advice, but the young woman who saw my mom as a friend. Indeed, she was the very best one I had. 

Mothering a teenage daughter can be a weary task. Find strength and encouragement in Galatians 6:9, “Let us not become weary of doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Continue to do good by your daughter, even if she doesn’t agree it’s good. Think of our heavenly Father and how He patiently walks alongside us, doing good to us, even if it doesn’t feel good in the moment. The Lord is using you in your daughter’s life in ways you can’t even see right now. Keep pursuing Christ and your daughter, and trust that God will be faithful. You won’t be perfect and neither will she, but God’s grace is sufficient for you both. By His grace, your relationship can endure these rocky years, and it can indeed be these years that pave the way for a beautiful friendship in the future. 

Love your daughter well today, mama. Hold fast to the Lord in this season. One day, when I’m on the mother side of this relationship, I’ll need someone to remind me of this. In these weary seasons, let’s lift one another up. Though our children may not tell us “Good job,” we can give this encouragement to other moms. Let’s remind one another that seasons are temporary, but the work we’re doing in parenting is an eternal investment God will use for His glory.

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™


Cassie Pattillo is a wife to Jack, and mama to Hunter (5), Isaac (3), and is in the process of adopting from India. Jack is a student pastor, so she loves serving alongside him and investing in teens’ lives. She is passionate about biblical literacy along with writing and teaching about Scripture. She is also a big fan of slow mornings with a cup of coffee, a good book on the beach, and Gamecock football. Connect with Cassie: Blog // Facebook // Instagram