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Letting Her Be Her (When Your Daughter is Different From You or What You Expected)

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Taking on the role of a substitute teacher this year has given me lots of surprises. I’ve taught everything from kindergarten to honors pre-calculus. I can never quite anticipate what the day will bring. This was especially true when I accepted a job as an Intervention Specialist at the high school. With the help of an aid, I had four small classes of students with various special needs or struggles, some severe, and each one unique. Right off the bat, I knew I was out of my league. I watched and assisted (feeling pretty intimidated by their behavior) as the aid took the lead.

Later in the day, she turned to me and said, “Aren’t they adorable?” I have to admit, my thought was, “Huh?” Adorable was not the word I would have chosen. She continued, “I just love this little group of misfits. They need extra love, and that’s what we give them.” She went on to point out the highlights of each student; she found something positive about everyone—even the kid in the corner with his hood up who hadn’t done anything but glare at me.

The way she embraced those kids gave them life. You could feel it. And it inspired me. I took her perspective home that night and asked myself, “Am I embracing my daughter that way?”

Sometimes, as your daughter grows up, you realize that she’s different from you—or maybe she’s just different from what you expected. You find yourself wondering why she’s like this, if you did anything wrong. You may even feel some disappointment. Here are a few things to keep in mind if you’re feeling this way.

1. Come to terms with your expectations.

What were you expecting? Sometimes without realizing it, we put unrealistic expectations on our daughter. Maybe you thought she’d have certain gifts or talents, disposition, likes and dislikes, or personality, and she doesn’t. That can be disappointing, but she needs to have the freedom (and support) to be whoever she’s going to be. And you may not realize this, but she can sense when she’s not quite measuring up, even if you don’t say it out loud. Instead, enjoy the prospect of being pleasantly surprised by what she’s able to accomplish.

2. Remember that God made each of us unique.

God designed your daughter as a one-of-a-kind masterpiece. She’s not going to be just like you, your mother, or your other children. She’s going to be uniquely her. And that’s a beautiful thing!

3. Find things to love about her right now, and highlight them!

It’s easy to let disappointment cloud our vision and keep us from seeing the good things. Still, they can be found if you look hard enough. Find the littlest thing, and eventually, you will see more. Tell your daughter. See if it doesn’t melt her heart and bring a little smile to her lips. The more you see the good things in her, the more she will see them in herself.

4. Keep the “big picture” in mind.

The things that worry you about your daughter right now can seem BIG and intimidating. You might think, “How will she ever overcome this?” But take a step back. Keep in mind that she is still changing. This is just one chapter—not the entire book. Give her room to grow into the girl, teenager, young adult, and grown adult that she’s going to be.

Tell us! Have you struggled with who your daughter is versus what you expect her to be?


In what ways do you feel different from others? What do you like about those things?

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