The Mother-Daughter Circular Journey

I’m gonna break a Cardinal Rule of parenting so buckle up and hang on! I’m going to admit that I probably liked my son better when he was a kid than I did my daughter. OK, I said it! (Really sorry Kimberly, but after age two you and I butted heads all the time.) I’ve never said it aloud before because we always assure our children that we have no favorites, but that’s not true…I loved them equally and fiercely but I didn’t always like my daughter as much as my son.

I don’t know if boys are easier, or if only mine was, but my son and I were completely simpatico throughout most of my tenure raising him. We had the typical bumps in the road but otherwise we were on the same page and very close.

My son was almost three when we brought his little sister home from the hospital and he handled the transition well as the Baby Princess moved to center stage. She was a little doll and that’s how I treated her for the first two years. I could hardly take my eyes off her or keep the smile from my face. Then the little inner girl-monster began to emerge and from that time on until she was into her mid-teens we locked horns.

Still, when she was sad, vulnerable or hurt…she’d make a beeline for me and my heart would melt as I folded her into my arms. Her pain was my pain, her joy my joy. Still, she challenged me every step of the way. I often prayed, “Lord, let me like her more…help us be friends, not enemies.” I wondered why she was so strong-willed and always seemed to seek out a position opposite mine. She tested me on everything from lying about brushing her teeth (when she was four) to being a little insolent to teachers as she got older.

I really don’t know when it happened but it seemed like overnight she began to gravitate to my side of the line in the sand and soon we were at odds less and less. In her late teens we crossed the final bridge and began to really enjoy spending time together.

I don’t know if this pattern of extreme adoration, clashing of wills and then re-uniting is typical of all moms and daughters but I’m guessing it’s not uncommon. We aren’t meant to be their friends when we’re raising them. We don’t even have to like them all the time as long as we love them with everything we’ve got.

I know my mom experienced some of this with her mom as I did with my mother. But as adults, when the dust settled and the war of adolescence was over, my mom and grandma were best friends and constant companions…just as my mom and I became very close. And I’m so thankful that my daughter (now 26) is today truly my dearest friend. It’s so nice to see her smile (instead of roll her eyes) when people tell us we look so much alike. “Thanks for that, God!”

If you’re raising a child who challenges you to your core, be strong and consistent. With God’s grace, you’ll end up with a finished product that will be the light of your life.

Any stories of raising strong-willed, obstinate children? Share below.

Diane Markins

*Happy Birthday Kimi! I’m so blessed to have had you in my life for 26 years.


  • Love it…never had a daughter, but I enjoyed reading it. I know my friends with daughters have had challenges raising them, so I don’t think you are alone 🙂

  • Joni

    Personally, I am very thankful that my mom didn’t run me off when that girl-monster reigned in me! God takes those personality traits that seem to run outside the boundaries when we are children, and uses them in bounds for His glory as we grow older. I have two sons and am blessed to have a daughter-in-love that came into my life AFTER the girl-monster stage! 🙂

  • The Daughter

    Yeah… I was not the easiest child! Thanks for holding out mama! We make a great team!


  • Doug Carroll

    Diane: Your piece on the Mother Daughter Circular Journey was excellent. My wife is going through similar struggles right now with her daughter, a college freshman. You can love someone and not like them very much at times. It’s not only possible, it’s normal.

    I do think boys are easier to raise than girls, at least on an emotional level. You tell a guy “cut it out” and he gets it. A half-hour later, everything has blown over. You say the same thing to a girl and she is depressed and/or hysterical for a week, thinking there is a conspiracy of hatred working against her and playing every victimization trick in the book. (I realize I am generalizing here.)

    Keep up the good work. I love reading your stuff.

  • Thank you for your encouraging words–I have two daughters, ages 4 and 6, and I love being a “girl mom,” but often struggle with the drama and constant highs and lows. You reminded me to take the long view of parenting and not get worn down by the day-to-day stuff. Thanks!

  • That’s great to read – I’m not the only one struggling with feeling I *like* one child better than the other (but love them both an awful lot!!!) She is just so different – dramatic, outspoken, opinionated. He’s quiet, introspective and thoughtful. It’s taken a while for us to tweak our relationship – lot’s of communicating and talking it out. She’s only 11 but I feel our relationship has the workings of one with mother and 15 year old! Hopefully we will work out the hard stuff now and will be good to go when we hit the teen years. 🙂