Mothers and Daughters and Grace



By Katie Locklin | MSW, LMSW, LICSW


With Mother’s Day quickly approaching, we wanted to highlight what goes into a healthy relationship between a mother and daughter. I will even give you the answer before we start . . . GRACE . . . lots of grace. What goes into that? Keep reading for more details.


In the counseling world, a healthy boundary is usually the right answer, as much as Jesus is the go-to answer to any question in Sunday School. If we don’t park things here for a minute, we will be missing a big piece. Here are a few questions to ask:

  1. What do our mother/daughter boundaries look like?

  2. Are they appropriate for our specific role and developmental stage? 

  3. Are we emotionally dependent upon each other in an unhealthy way?

  4. Do we share too much? Not enough?

Boundaries look different for everyone and in every life stage, but we know they are appropriate when we can be honest and open. Give yourself some grace here, because healthy boundaries take work and don’t just happen overnight!

When you notice your boundaries are unhealthy, make small adjustments and try not to get overwhelmed with changing it all in one situation. Boundaries, by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend, is a great resource if you feel you need additional help in this area.


We all bring aspects into our lives and relationships from our family of origin—habits, beliefs, communication styles, traditions, hurt, and love. Have you ever said something and then realized you sounded JUST like your mom?

Our upbringing impacts us more than we often realize. Our moms sometimes make mistakes. Grace is important here because those mistakes may have been passed down from her family of origin which, in turn, is passed down to us. It’s easy to play the blame game, but when we look at it, it is just a big cycle that started when sin entered the world.

Honestly, if we are going to point fingers here, Eve—we are looking at you! Of course, we are responsible for changing that cycle (and with God’s help, nothing is impossible), but when we see it from this perspective, it allows us to have more grace and forgiveness.


I recently heard someone describe kids as “immature sinners.” They fall short just like adults, but with even less brain development. The part of your brain that uses higher level, moral thinking does not fully develop until around 25 years old. Keeping this perspective also allows us to apply a bit more grace. There will always be consequences to poor choices, but there can also be empathy at the same time.

Our daughters will fall short, and this can be an opportunity for growth and learning. For some parents, these shortcomings can feel personal. Children reflect us, so this could hurt our pride, or we could be so exhausted that blaming others for our daughter’s issues seems easier. Whatever the reason, just like moms, daughters weren’t meant to be perfect and were certainly not meant to fill the void placed in our hearts for unconditional love. That is the job of Jesus.


In some ways, being a mother is a beautiful manifestation of the gospel. Our mother can be our biggest cheerleader and love us in times no one else could. This reminds me of Jesus on the cross, while we were yet sinners. While being a picture of the way our God loves us, moms aren’t meant to take the place of the perfection we find in Jesus.

It is much like the emphasis we often put on our pastors. Moms give us vital information, they care for us and point us to Jesus, but just like a great pastor doesn’t eliminate your need for a personal relationship with Jesus, Jesus and moms aren’t interchangeable either. We need that imperfection to remind us that there is only One who can love us enough to provide us a way back to God. If it were any other way, we’d be missing the point! 

As daughters, we need to remember that when our moms mess up, it’s okay. Mom can’t be perfect, or why would we need Jesus? As moms, we need to give ourselves the same grace the Lord so freely gives to us and know that Jesus is the perfect presence in our lives. He is always more than enough!

See, you thought I was kidding when I told you the answer at the very beginning . . . Grace. It’s always grace. Now, get out there and love each other like imperfect people serving a perfect God!