I will give it to you

It’s been a rough few days with one of our teenagers.  Nothing that we haven’t seen before– just lots of unpleasantness and not much luck encouraging her in the right direction, which tends to leave me feeling discouraged. I had a talk with my mom, which is always therapeutic.  She’s full of perspective and Godly wisdom– I’m really blessed to have her as both my momma and my friend.

I so much want to grow the relationship with my daughter that I’m always reaching out to her, wanting to talk and interact, but often am pushed away.  We’ve talked about why she does this.  We’ve given chores, taken away privileges, prayed with her and for her.  But due to hard stuff in her past, she just has a hard time responding kindly to me.

Mom suggested that I not try so hard to reach out — just back off and give her space. Honestly, I so much want to listen.  But I feel like if I didn’t reach out, there’d be almost zero interaction, and that feels to me like giving up on the relationship.  I’ve never been a quitter;  how can I quit on my daughter?

As much as I wanted to hear my mom, the closest I could imagine doing that day was to renew my determination to be less reactive to rudeness and to use fewer words in our interactions.  A baby step, that’s all.

Then on Sunday, our pastor told the story of Abraham being asked by God to leave his country and go to a new land that God would show him. There were enemies in the new land, but here God said a really amazing thing to Abraham. “I will give you this land.”

Not ‘make a battle plan, fight tooth and nail, and never give up’ but:  “I will give it to you.”

Hold your hands out in a state of expectation and I will give it to you.

Go to a new land, where you’re not battling, and fixing, and trying to make things happen.

Hold out your hands.

“I will give it to you.”

And here still I sit, hands clutched.  Heart doubting the wisdom of giving up and stepping back.  Not sure if I can really release this precious child and just back off, have faith, see what happens, trust that she’ll come around.

But still that promise rattles in my brain, dovetailing with my momma’s words the other day.

Step back.  Wait and see. I will give it to you.


“For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.” (2 Chronicles 16:9)


  1. Saying a prayer for you and your daughter.

  2. Beth in the City says:

    Thank you. This blesses me, and I also passed it on to two others mom’s by sending them the link.

  3. (((HUGS)))

    I think your momma is wise.

  4. 1) 1 Chron 5:20


    2) the enter the worship circle song “too proud”

  5. Surrendering to God’s will does make everything right. It’s not about giving up, but giving up the desire to exercise loving control. Loving it may be, but God’s will trumps mama’s will. I don’t know if you enjoy Stephen Covey’s 7 habits, but in one of the books he writes about their young son struggling in sports and how positive reinforcement and taking a step back actually drew the boy out of his shell and made him excel. Your mama’s so wise.

  6. I know this must be so difficult, but I think your mom gave you good advice. Some kids need a lot more space than others–my son is one of them. I had to sit back and wait. My son was like a wounded animal (he was a wounded boy) and I was an open basket. He needed to walk around the basket, stare at it from every angle, knock it over to see if it would set itself back up, and kept testing to be sure that the basket would right itself, remain steady, and always stay open. And eventually he climbed back in. I cannot make his wounds go away, but I can accept him-wounds and all, and always be ready to be a safe basket for him.

    • Fern, I love the basket analogy. Thanks for your comment today — (and for all the other times you’ve written here over the years too!)

    • Wow, Fern. Thank you! I appreciate the post from Owlhaven (very much!) and to top it off with this analogy is a true gift. Be Blessed!

  7. Kate Simpson says:

    As a younger individual who is just leaving childhood behind, I just wanted to encourage you! In a time where my heart was so hard against my parents, the best thing they ever did was to take a step back to let me breath and figure myself out. For some reason, the harder they fought to love me and encourage me to love them the more I pulled into myself. My parents and I now have a really awesome relationship. I am in college seven hours away, but our relationship is at its peak. My mom is becoming a friends and confident. Don’t give up. Just prayerfully wait in the background to see how the Lord is going to move within her.

  8. hydrogeek says:

    I rarely comment, but this touched me. I’ve recently been led to “let go” of several things in my life. Things I thought I was doing right. My preacher likened it to saying “Here God, I’m giving this stuff to you, but not THIS stuff. This stuff is mine. I’ve got it under control.” Well, that’s not what God asks of us. So I’ve been practicing letting go, even of the things I thought I didn’t need to. And the blessings have been amazing. We serve an Awesome God!

  9. Spending a lifetime learning the letting go lesson – I have no children so you can just skip past this BUT I was a child and my mother was far too invasive with my life day to day – I think there is nothing so appealing to a child/tween/teen as the person who responds pleasantly but doesn’t clutch at you. Your mother is a wise woman who knows you and your children well – we think somehow we are a driving force in everything around us – you have the power driver already installed, Listen to your Mother (oh yes and the Lord!) you are a good parent – all your children will bless you, just in different ways and often at different times.

  10. Raising teenagers is the hardest thing
    I’ve ever done. Because there is no perfectly correct answers to our questions. I was going to say that in my experience, when my teens have behaved like that, they need me/want me to not step away but are begging me in this odd “pushing away” behavior to uncover what is at the heart of it all. Usually some stress in their life, some struggle, comes pouring out, if I take the time to spend some one-on-one time and really listen, which is OH so hard to do when their behavior is nasty in the first place. And then I feel like our relationship grows tremendously.
    But then everyone wrote the opposite and so maybe they are right also. 🙂 Which is why this is all so difficult.
    And I love my mom also..the first person I go to to sound off about teenage parenting.

  11. I truly feel your pain. My Ethiopian born son is now 13 but came home when he was 5 years old. He has always been resistant to my reaching out to him–for help, for support, for advice, anything. It sometimes seems as if he would rather go down with his sinking ship rather than reach out and grab on. The best thing my husband and I did was to send him to a sleep away camp for two weeks this summer. I needed a break from him (summer is incredibly difficult because he gets bored and ratchets up his disagreeable attitude and behavior) and he needed a break from us. The camp was sponsored by the YMCA so it was pretty affordable. He lived in a bunk with his camp “family”. They even had a “mother” (girl counselor) and “father” (boy counselor). My husband and I half thought he’d be sent home because if he doesn’t like something, he can make life miserable, not just for himself, but for everyone around him. But to our surprise, we heard rave reviews from his counselors when we picked him up. They told us he was so supportive to his camp “brothers” and “sisters”. Something clicked for him during those two weeks away. He still doesn’t reach out as much as my other boys, but he is working on it. And my husband and I have learned to back off and give him the freedom he craves. I am not a psychologist but I think my son has a deep seeded need for feeling like he has control over his life, because let’s face it, he had a terrible beginning. We still have logical consequences and he is learning that being more independent has it’s ups and downs. I could go on and on… This is a difficult challenge as a mother because it is easy to take it personally. Don’t. Just keep saying “I love you” and reminding her you are there when she needs you. She will reach out on her own time. The moments of feeling connected may be few, but they will be oh so memorable : )
    P.S. If you would like any information on the camp, e-mail me privately. There were several other adopted children there and my son enjoyed meeting and connecting with others with the same experience.

  12. Thank you for your willingness to admit the difficulties in parenting an adopted child. Your blog is such an encouragement to me especially regarding how to manage a large family including adopted children. Parenting is a difficult task and parenting an adopted child adds another dimention of difficulty that sometimes we parents can’t even begin to understand. God does understand and sometimes we just have to rest in the fact that His plan for us is perfect even if the circumstances are difficult. I will pray for your daughter and for you. Blessings!

  13. Didn’t you recently attend an adoption or parenting seminar where one of the topics was about the difficulty of parenting teen girls who are pushing away in their quest for independence? I’m thinking the suggested tips were to listen to them, be an example of what they should strive to be, and remember that even though they push away they will swing back to you. There might have been more, but I don’t have any girls so I didn’t memorize all the details. When God gives instruction, He usually confirms it from another source. It sounds like in this instance, it’s been triple-stated (conference, mom, pastor).

    I can’t imagine how difficult it will be for you to back off, but perhaps the “zero interaction” you fear is what she needs for a little bit to help her realize how important the interaction is.

    • It’s true– I think God knows how hard it is for me to NOT do, and so He makes sure I hear the same thing over and over.

      I also think that’s why He led my parents to name me Mary. He knew I was more a Martha at heart, and needed the reminder to rest at Jesus’ feet.

  14. Sometimes being part of the background for a bit, quietly going about our day, can still speak volumes. A special meal that is her favorite, a smile or soft touch on her shoulder as she passes by, can still show your love without pressing in on her. Good luck with being patient and still – definitely not one of my strengths!

  15. Oh, I love it when your mom offers advice. Because of this post, I can still listen and learn from her. Her quiet example is what led us to embrace the idea of having a big family! I remember, with deep gratitude, observing your mother mother you as a teen!

    Thank you for blessing me today with this Bible verse and for sharing your struggle to remember that God is always giving us exactly what we need.

    I enjoyed the African mother’s way of interacting with her teenaged daughter and baby in the recent “Babies” documentary. Sometimes less is more!? ;~)

    Having had 4 – 5 teens in the house for 5 solid years and still having 3 under our roof (But, who’s counting?), my best and only help is to pray for you and your dearies, Mary. Sending blessings and encouragement your way, too!

    Alas, your Mary/Martha comment reminded me of one of my favorite artists (Caravaggio) and paintings (Martha and Mary Magdalen). My dear mom used to take me (on the bus from our little farm town) to Detroit, when I was a teen, to hear the symphony, see the ballet, and visit the Art Institute. This painting never ceased to amaze and inspire me! Here is a great lesson for homeschool art history: http://artvent-artventures.blogspot.com/2011/11/caravaggio-and-moment-of-mary-magdalen.html

    I love the other mamas’ comments here. Our common trials bring us together in prayer, uplift us, change our perspectives, and draw us to God for our answers.

    Please give you mom and brothers and sisters my fondest regards!

    God’s Peace!

  16. Bistake, as my grandson says! Meant to type ‘your mom’ in my penultimate sentence.

    Have a wonderful day! Hugs!

  17. Thank you so much for the word. I struggle with my almost seventeen yr ol daughter. She rarely is with the family and, it seems to me, she distances herself from the rest of us as much as possible. I try to back off then step forward again, because I don’t want to lose her. It is such a dance. I know she is lonely without us but she doesn’t want to be with the rest of us. Ugh. Teenhood. Looking forward to a few years from now when we can learn to be friends.

  18. (posted by Mary, written by anonymous)
    Thank you so much for the questions and answers. We want to adopt someday, but haven’t been able to make much progress. Right now we’re waiting until the beginning of next year when this area is offering the adoption classes again (we’re wanting to adopt through the foster care system). When I think about adopting I get really overwhelmed thinking about what it’ll look like for us as parents, our 4 year old birth daughter and any adopted kids. I worry that I’m not adequate enough to be an adoptive mom (or a birth mom for that matter), but I have to remind myself, that even though I’m not adequate, God is adequate!

  19. We have the same struggle here. Only my girly is not a teen, but an 8 yr old.

    I am often reminded of the passage in 2 Chronicles 20: 15, 17

    Thus saith the Lord unto you, Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God’s.

    17 Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the Lord with you.

  20. Reminds me of Mother Teresa’s word to just love and not become attached to the results. Easy to say, hard to do!

  21. Popped over from Lisa’s blog. 🙂 I, too, am a “Christian homeschooling mother of many, both bio. & adopted.” I, too, write about “being frugal, cooking, and crafting” in addition to all of the “mother stuff”.

    Loved this post. I, too, have an adopted daughter who rejects my attempts to build a loving relationship with her. I, too, have had to learn to just back off and allow the Lord to work in His time.

    I look forward to reading more about your family.

    mama of 12 (ages 10, 11, 12, 14, 16, 19, 22, 23, 23, 25, 27, 28)


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