Raising a Tender-Hearted Girl in a Tough-Hearted World


Natalie Snapp shares the struggles of teaching daughters how to be the right balance of salty and sweet.

It had been a rough night.

Homework. Difficult to remember spelling words. Younger brothers picking on their older sister (precisely what little brothers are made to do, of course.)

Not to mention it was a Thursday night and, like me, she was bone-tired. Emotions were running high.

My daughter is very sensitive; she feels everything deeply. Of course, I can relate because she comes by it naturally.

She went to bed with tears in her sapphire eyes as we discussed what she was feeling. I kissed her sweet forehead and hugged her extra long with far more force than usual.

Soon after, she was asleep, the worries released for another day. I stand at her door, thankful for a God who works even while we sleep.

Troubled by some of the stuff we discussed, I sat on the couch and just breathed in the silence. So often, I don’t know what direction to travel in this journey of parenting. I can’t find a map but thankfully, I have a compass.

I prayed to that compass for a long time as the cicadas sang through the open windows. I prayed for her heart to be toughened but not too-toughened. I prayed for her skin to grow-in a bit thicker but not too thick. I prayed for her wisdom to establish boundaries in relationships when needed but not so many boundaries that she lives in relationship with no one.

Parenting a young girl is like coaching a fledgling tight-rope walker. The rope is closer to the ground at the beginning, with a safe place to fall if balance is lost. As more skill develops, the rope is increased in height and while the safe place to land is still there, it’s still a longer fall.

And even knowing there is a safe place to fall, the thought of her falling at all makes me shudder.

But she will fall.  And the twisted, weird thing is that I know deep down, I want her to.

When we fall, we grow in wisdom. We begin to own our faith. We develop a more personal relationship with Jesus. We toughen-up because we see what we’re made of and we see what He does for us but . . . we must watch for the sneaky root of bitterness.

Bitterness is a first-class joy-stealer.

I walk upstairs to check on them all --the two boys who are like puppies who roll around on the floor and communicate at a decibel I’m sure has caused my own hearing loss and the sweet girl, sleeping in a ball, covers towards the bottom of the bed.

Carefully, I pull the blanket back to her chin and I pray with a fury and passion that only other mothers would understand.

I pray her tender heart will never be changed but that she will learn to navigate in a tough world. I pray she will always cry at sad movies, that she will live with a passion that shows she’s truly alive, and that she will continue to feel deeply but not too personally. I pray that she will walk the tightrope but not be scared, that she will pick herself back up and keep walking after she falls, and that she’ll recognize the source of her safety net: her own personal compass that loves her more than I love her.

And that’s a whole lot.

How do you teach your daughter to be just the right balance of salty and sweet?

Written by Natalie Chambers Snapp

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