I have a fifteen‑year‑old daughter. Since her last birthday, I have sensed her pulling away from me. She doesn’t confide in me anymore.

Some time ago, I made a lot of mistakes. I was with many different men. My daughter knew four of them. I know I was a bad example to her. I believe that’s why she no longer trusts me. She’d rather talk to her friends than me. It hurts me that she doesn’t share her life with me anymore. I want to be a friend, a mother, a companion, and a confidant to her; but I’m not succeeding. Please, I need some advice.

Dear Friend,

Almost every mother who ever had a teenager can identify with your feelings. This is because your experience with your daughter is something that can be expected to happen in almost every parent-child relationship sooner or later.

Your daughter is not a little girl anymore. She is on the verge of adulthood, and that means independence from parents. Because she wants to grow up more quickly, she pushes you away to try and establish her independence sooner. When she confides in her friends rather than in you, she is establishing a boundary between the two of you. This is not a rejection of you, but rather a sign of her desire for independence.

Most parents want to keep their children from growing up too fast. They want to protect them and help them avoid costly mistakes. But the tighter they hold on to their sons and daughters, the more the children squirm out of their grasp. This is normal. Children who do not experience a healthy separation from their parents grow up to be adults with emotional problems. Try to be content that your daughter is going through a normal stage of growth.

You are worried that your past relationships have caused your daughter to withdraw from you. We have no way of knowing if this is a factor affecting her behavior. But we can tell you that parents who have always modeled a stable and happy marital relationship will still experience the unpleasantness of emotional separation from their almost‑grown‑up children. The best thing you can do now is to model the kind of person you want your daughter to become, rather than continuing to blame yourself for what you did before.

All of us have done things we should not have done. The apostle Paul said, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”(1) You are experiencing a great amount of guilt because of your past sin. In order for you to be free from the guilt of this sin, the penalty must be paid. So what is the penalty? Paul continued on to answer that question: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”(2) In this one statement Paul made it clear that though the penalty of our sin is death, Jesus paid that penalty for us when He died on the cross. All you must do now is accept Jesus’ death as a substitute for your own, and ask God to forgive you and give you the gift of eternal life He offers. Jesus never sinned, so the penalty he paid was in your place. He will take away not only your sin, but also the heavy guilt that you are continuing to feel. Pray and ask Him to do that right now.

After you have been forgiven for all that you have done, you will feel clean and pure. You will be able to live in such a way that you can be the best example to your daughter. She will learn that even though we all have made mistakes, we don’t have to live the rest of our lives in condemnation and regret. We can begin again with God’s help.

Someday your desire to be your daughter’s friend, companion, and confidant may come true. But this is not likely while she is a teenager. For now, just be her mother. Love her even when she doesn’t seem to love you back. Accept her even when she rejects you. Understand her desire to grow up and be independent of you. Place reasonable limits and boundaries around her to keep her safe, but don’t smother her. Don’t try to make her feel guilty because she is going through a normal stage of life. Instead, take pleasure in these last few years you have with her under your own roof. If you do this well, it will be only a few short years until she wants you as her friend.

Believe us, it will be worth it,

Linda and Charles
1 Ro 3:23
2 Ro 6:23