I follow my daughter Alana across the parking lot, watching her hijab stir in the wind as she leads her children to the dentist’s office.

When she opens the door and walks in, people will stare. They always do. The sight of a Muslim woman turns heads in America, and I understand this. This same sight, of my daughter inside another faith, shocked me and broke my heart.

I’m not alone, though. Mother-daughter relationships of all kinds, whether steeped in the same faith or otherwise, often seem to live in tension, surprise, disappointment, or dismay.

Is it a scheme or conspiracy of nature? Mothers and daughters are “two biologically alike bodies, one of which has lain in amniotic bliss inside the other, one of which has labored to give birth to the other. The materials are here for the deepest mutuality and the most painful estrangement,” wrote the late author Adrienne Rich.

But can we recover? If your mother drives you crazy—or your daughter seems a stranger—can you wrestle a road back to peace and love?

Ever-Present Tension

The answers for me? I must. I did. I’m working on it.

Making peace with my daughter is God work, precisely because it’s hard. I think of Jesus, hanging on a Roman cross, beaten and scourged, yet urging his best friend John not to help save him but to take care of his mother (John 19:25–27). The relationship between a child and a mother is so important that Jesus used some of his last breaths to make sure his mother was cared for. This has profound theological implications for us as well—whether you’re a mother or a grown child.

So on this day, I take a deep breath and start anew. I’m visiting Alana’s city on business for a few days, ...

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