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Volume 15, Issue 2: Femina

Mothers and Daughters

Nancy Wilson

I love the beautiful expression in Psalm 144:12 describing covenant daughters in a culture blessed by God: "that our daughters may be as corner stones, polished after the similitude of a palace." What a wonderful way to think of our daughters!

The cornerstone is a very significant, impressive part of the building, vital to the foundation. But this psalm is not describing the cornerstone of any old building: it is the polished marble of a palace. When God is blessing His people, covenant daughters are refined, intelligent, beautiful, and noble. Their contribution to the culture both supports and adorns: they bear much weight and responsibility with the loveliness that comes of grace, discipline, and dignity.
If we desire to see God bless us with such daughters, we must first compare our own view with that of Scripture. I am afraid that sometimes daughters are viewed as second-class citizens, not being educated as well as the sons, not being prepared to take their position as polished cornerstones. As we respond to the rampant feminism and egalitarianism in our day, we must not overreact by neglecting the serious task of preparing young women for all God is calling them to. When our culture is truly blessed of God, our daughters will be something to behold. Of course, getting there will take wisdom but God promises to give it to us when we ask in faith.
How can mothers help to nurture their daughters to the stature of polished cornerstones? The first thing is to cultivate a high view of what it takes to be a mother and a wife. This includes having high standards of academic work for daughters as well as for sons. If all that is expected of daughters is basic literacy so they can read a cookbook, we are falling tremendously short. Homemaking requires far more than this, and it will be much more satisfying to the woman who understands the momentousness of her task.
Because we have embraced the biblical view of children (blessed is the man whose quiver is full), many women have found themselves in a home with a very large family. This can be a great blessing, or it can be a spectacular failure. If it really is a blessing, then daughters from such families will want the same for themselves. But all too often older daughters can hardly wait to be away from home because they are carrying so much of Mom's responsibility of childrearing, homeschooling, babysitting, etc. Some of these daughters leave home hostile to the idea of a large family. They have seen what a drag and weight it has been on them and on their mothers, and they want no part of carrying on such a tradition. This can come from mothers viewing their older daughters as fulltime babysitters. These girls often cannot pursue academics because they are busy teaching the little ones, and their own progress is stunted. They have become surrogate mothers whose days are full of diapers and cooking and cleaning, and though they are becoming proficient in domestic duties, they must of necessity neglect intellectual pursuits. For daughters to assume their rightful role in the covenant community, they must be proficient in both. We are shortsighted if we think we can raise up sons to be great leaders, embracing a biblical masculinity, while raising up enfeebled women to be their helpers.
God has created our daughters to need love and security. When parents love their daughters, they are bestowing protection and security on them, and this in turn keeps them from looking for affirmation elsewhere. A daughter who is loved will be lovely. She won't be competing for attention from unsuitable guys; she won't be insecure about who she is and what she is supposed to be doing. Women need protection from men, and parents (particularly dads) are designated to protect their daughters until such time that they are given in marriage to husbands who will take up this duty of protecting.
Loving daughters means providing a full-orbed education for them. It means providing for all their needs. Daughters need to be adorned physically, which means teaching them to be lovely, and teaching them how to shop and sew. It means teaching them to have good taste and to appreciate the lovely things. A polished cornerstone implies refinement and beauty and virtue. This means we do not confuse modest with frumpy. Just covering our daughters in second-hand, neck-to-ankle jumpers that are two sizes too big is not teaching a feminine, modest beauty. We must learn what beauty is ourselves and then adorn our daughters appropriately and modestly.
Finally, mothers must not be critical of their daughters. A godly discipline will not allow silliness, idleness, bossiness, shyness, poutiness, or other forms of manipulation. But at the same time, a loving mother will not nitpick, criticize, attribute motives, take things personally, or be demanding and hard on daughters. Remember, daughters need love and security. A critical, unforgiving spirit will alienate a daughter very fast. Mothers must keep their perspective in this and let love cover a multitude of sins. Daughters will sin like everyone else. Mothers must model forgiveness and repentance by seeking it themselves when they have been too hard on them. Then, by the grace of God, covenant daughters will delight in their mothers, and mothers will rejoice to see their daughters taking their places as polished cornerstones.

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