My beautiful daughter is suspended between childhood and womanhood. She still enjoys playing with her Littlest Pet Shop toys and climbing trees but yearns to be respected and treated as a young woman. Ashlyn is a sweet girl, snuggling in my lap one minute and rolling her eyes and stomping off in frustration the next.

I am blessed to have a close relationship with Ashlyn. She will come to me first when having a problem with a friend or with an important question. I am slowly loosening the reigns, allowing her to take more responsibility. She finds the freedom exhilarating and frequently tries to push the freedom a little farther. Needless to say, this has resulted in some disagreements with emotional outbursts. While I am thankful that we are friends, I also need to remain her mother. Ashlyn may not realize this, but she needs me to love with authority and maintain respectful boundaries. I need to model a godly mother and woman to her.

After a few outbursts, I realized it was time for a woman-to-young-woman chat.  I carefully chose the timing of our talk. I did not want to discuss behavior during an emotional confrontation. On the way home from a shopping trip, we began talking about friendships. I assured her that I treasured her friendship and trust in me. I also reminded her that friendship required respect, especially since God chose me to be her mom, as well. I gently verbalized what my expectations were: no eye-rolling, turning her back on me, slamming doors, or rude comments. We discussed how to handle confrontation respectfully: appropriate tone of voice, asking questions without whining or begging, and accepting parental decisions. These are relationship building blocks that are important not only in parent-child relationships but also in marriages and friendships.

Ashlyn and I also began a communication journal. Sometimes when she is upset, she has difficulty verbalizing her frustration. When Ashlyn is too upset to speak clearly or has a question she is too embarrassed to ask, she writes in the journal and places it on my bed. I then read the question and respond in the journal. Usually we are later able to talk about it without an emotional outburst.

Preparing a child for independence is so bittersweet. My job as a mom is to equip my child to leave me while wanting to keep her close. Maintaining healthy communication has never been so important! While I’m excited to watch Ashlyn transform into a young woman, I treasure the little girl I still have in my arms.