Cast a Wide Net – and Be Kind to Everyone

My friend once got booted from a friend group because she didn’t have Asahi tennis shoes.

The story is laughable now, but when it happened in 7th grade, it crushed her. She’d worked so hard to get “in” with the right girls, and between her need for their approval and a lack of designer clothes, she was an easy target to pick on.

Her turning point came at school one day as her friends talked about her. Finally wising up, she looked around for new company. She spotted two girls sitting on a wall nearby, and though she didn’t know them well, they’d always been kind so she walked toward them. Immediately they embraced her and soon became the best of friends.

My friend found her happy ending for one big reason: she was friendly beyond her friend group. She didn’t paint herself into a corner by only being kind to a select group of girls. Girls often make this mistake as they find their people and form their squads. They get so tight with their inner circle they shut out everyone else, and when their circle hurts them or when changes happen, they have no where to go. Peers aren’t quick to embrace them because they burned too many bridges.

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Helping Your Daughter Find Real Friends

A mother once told me about her 6th grade daughter getting kicked out of her friend group over the summer because a new “leader” took over while their family was on vacation.

Clearly her daughter was hurt, and when the new school year started, she made new friends. Friends she could count on. Friends she could trust. Friends who wouldn’t drop her or suddenly turn their backs.

A few months later, her old friends wanted her back. They started being nice again, and while the girl found this satisfying, she also knew better. Being burned had taught her what a real friend looks like. And though she continued to be nice to her old friends, she didn’t want them back.

She told her mom, “They are my 50/50 friends, and I want to be with my real friends.”

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Be The Driver

The car I drive is white, but it might as well be yellow because most days of the week I am a taxi driver.

I don’t mind really mind it, largely because of advice I heard from parents ahead of me when my kids were little. 

Through multiple conversations, I began to realize how spending time with my children in the car is a gift to be enjoyed, not a burden to be endured.

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Want to Help Your Daughter? Be Her Emotional Coach

“Girls who get a chance to talk about the abundant frustrations of their day usually feel better once they’ve unloaded their distress on you. Any adult who has spent dinnertime grumbling about a coworker, neighbor, or boss understands that sharing one’s true feelings at home makes it a lot easier to be charming out in public. Teenagers are no different. Having used you as their emotional dumping ground, they are prepared to return to school and play the part of the good citizen. Indeed, they may be able to act as a good citizen at school precisely because they are spending some of their time imagining the colorful complaints they will share once their school day has ended.”

Lisa Damour, author of Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions Into Adulthood

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What Makes a Guy a Keeper?

“What makes a marriage work is not the same thing as what makes a date work…You want somebody who falls in love with your soul and not your body or your pocketbook, because those things fade away.” T.D. Jakes

A Hollywood couple had announced their divorce, and it was all over the news.

In one article, the actress noted the charisma of her ex-husband, who reportedly had been unfaithful. With a link to this story, a high school teacher emailed me, saying it reminded her of something she once read in a magazine, where another Hollywood star said she wasn’t dating because there was plenty of charisma out there, but not much character – and there is a difference.

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My Peanut Allergy Child Can Now Eat Peanuts

Christmas has come early for my baby girl, Camille.

The child who was diagnosed at age 1 with a multitude of allergies can now eat peanuts. Recently, in the office of her allergist, she ate a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich.

I’m still stunned by the size of this gift. 

Never did I think I’d write this article. Never did I imagine my daughter participating in this therapy, which I heard about over 4 years ago while interviewing an allergy researcher at UAB for an article.

This doctor was the first to tell me where food allergy research was headed. He said oral desensitization trials had taken off, and with doctors doing clinical trials to determine the best way to desensitize people, they could be ready for “prime time” in two to three years.

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“Give Your Friends Room to Have a Bad Day”

My friend texted me at 5 a.m. – then followed up with an email.

In both messages she apologized for a reaction she’d had the night before. Another mom had acted self-righteous toward her, and as she was reeling from that, she said she took it out on me.

I wasn’t angry because I knew her response was out of character. Still, I appreciated the apology. I was glad we had the chance to talk it out so the event didn’t come between us.

As soon as I could, I called my friend to assure her we were good. “Don’t worry about it one more second!” I said. She confessed she’d been up all night long worrying, mad at herself for not handling the situation better.

That part got to me.

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Hey Girls, Don’t Discount the Quiet Guys

Over time I’ve come to notice that when teenage girls discuss teenage boys, they tend to group them into 3 categories:

  • The “He’s so annoying” category (generally because they’re rude or they make fun of girls and think they’re being funny)
  • The “He’s really nice” category (a handful of boys achieve this label)
  • The “He’s nice, but he’s so quiet” category (a grouping I never thought about)

When it comes to category 3, the quiet boys, girls quickly move on to the next topic of conversation. They don’t see the potential or consider the possibility that one day, those quiet boys may blossom and prove to be something special. All they know is what they see today…and based on that, a friendship or future relationship seems highly unlikely.

And that is why I’ve started to tell girls: Don’t discount the quiet boys. Don’t give up on them this early. Some of the best men and dads you know were once the quiet boys in school.

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2 Words for a Better School Year

A friend of mine once had jury duty and did not know a soul. When it came time to choose her seat, she did what most of us do.

She scanned the faces of potential jurors, saw a woman who reminded her of herself, and sat down by her.

Clearly there is nothing wrong with this. Very often when we’re instinctively drawn to people, there ends up being a chemistry or natural rapport that makes for easy conversation.

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My Big Fat Greek Vacation

Travel makes you modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” Gustave Flaubert

My family and I are not world travelers, but recently we enjoyed a once-in-a-lifetime vacation to Greece that we’ll cherish for decades to come.

There were 17 people in our party: 10 cousins, 3 aunts, 3 uncles, and 1 YiaYia. We travelled with my husband’s family in honor of our late Papou, who used to talk about taking his kids and grandkids to the old country until the onset of Alzheimer’s cut that conversation short.

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An Encouraging Word for New Moms

Congratulations, momma! You did it. You’ve ushered a miracle into this world. That newborn baby in your arms is a game changer, a tiny slice of heaven and the purest thing you’ll ever know on this side of eternity.

My guess is that you spent your pregnancy preparing for this moment. You’ve read the books. Sought the advice. Chosen your pediatrician and educated yourself on baby gear.

Yet even so, you’re worried and overwhelmed. This world seems so unfit for a baby – especially your baby – and there’s too much that can go wrong.

So what does the future hold? What can you expect? Clearly, your family’s story will be unique, but what I can touch on common experiences and feelings, things I wish someone had told me when I become a mom.

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Daddies Be Good to Your Daughters

I saw an old friend recently and asked about his little girl.

He immediately turned to mush.

The transformation advanced like this: His head tilted. He smiled. His body softened as if he’d been microwaved five seconds. In a final gesture, he rapped on his heart…one, two, three times. He never did speak, however.

That’s because he didn’t have to.

I know it sounds sappy, but the relationship between daddies and daughters turns me into putty,

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10 Truths Middle Schoolers Should Know

It’s rare to hear anyone say they loved middle school. Even people with positive memories never tout it as the best years of their life.

Simply put, it’s an awkward season. It’s a time of constant changes, social shake-ups, swinging emotions, and intense pressures. If I’ve learned anything from working with adolescent girls, it’s how hungry this age group is for comfort and reassurance. I hear it in their voices and see it in their eyes whenever I speak to a group,

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Raising a Kind Daughter

When my daughter Ella was in fourth grade, she got in the car one day after school and announced her plan to run for student council.

At her school each class has a representative, and I was thrilled she planned to put her name in the hat. Even if she didn’t win, it would be a good experience.

She told me almost every girl in her class was running, as well as one or two boys.

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What I Appreciate Most from Parents Raising Boys

A while back, I was at dinner with my friend Jacki when she shared a story about one of her three sons.

Their family was at the high school for a game, and without consulting his parents, their sixth grade son walked from the school to the neighborhood grocery store with three girls. Because it was dark outside, his parents weren’t happy about it.

One thing Jacki’s learned about raising boys, however,

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10 Things Parents of Middle Schoolers Should Know

I’m a fairly typical mom in how I felt when my first child started middle school.

I’d heard the horror stories and also the funny stories, like one mom telling me how she still gets hives when she drives by her child’s junior high. 🙂

Fortunately, we’ve had a good experience so far. The biggest challenge for my daughters has been learning to manage a more demanding schedule, and the biggest challenge for me is figuring out my role as a mom,

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It’s Never Too Late to Say “I’m Sorry”

While driving my kids to school one day, I told them it was almost time for an annual lake trip our family takes with friends we see once a year.

Everyone got super-excited – except my youngest daughter. With a little prodding she admitted she was scared to go because of an argument she’d had the previous year with a girl her age. It was a silly fight, and she regretted how she acted.

“It’s okay,” I told her. “This is your chance to tell her you’re sorry. It’s never too late to say ‘I’m sorry.’ I have a friend who just apologized for a mistake she feels she made over 20 years ago.”

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10 Common Mistakes Parents Today Make (Me Included)

When I became a mom, I got lots of advice on how to love my child. But not until a few years ago did someone actually point out that loving a child means wanting what’s best for them long-term.

When my girls were young, long-term didn’t resonate with me. Back then it was about survival, meeting daily needs and keeping my head above water. There are several years that remain a blur, and only when I see old pictures and videos do memories get triggered.

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Prepare the Child for the Road, Not the Road for the Child

Years ago, my friend’s daughter really wanted to be chosen as “Swimmer of the Week” at their country club. It’s an honor bestowed weekly to one child per age group in the summer.

Parents will sometimes call the club to request that their child be picked. But my friend didn’t want to do that. She wanted her daughter to win the award through hard work and perseverance.

So she told her child, “When you get this award,

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Why Women Need Their Girlfriends

Years ago, I was at the beach with my family when I noticed a group of ladies nearby who appeared to be in their fifties.

With a quick glance, I knew they were on a girls’ weekend. All the signs were there – coolers & cocktails, beach bags with romance novels, straw hats, umbrellas in the sand – but most telling of all was their laughter. Lots of lots of laughter, the kind that draws attention and curiosity from anyone in earshot.

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A Silver Linings Mindset

Every morning when we wake up, we have a choice. We can choose to be grateful for what’s right in our life or grumpy for what’s wrong.

Nobody is born grateful. We learn gratitude by practicing it. This is good news because it means gratitude is within everyone’s reach. In any and all circumstances it works. Even if we’re skeptical or pessimistic by nature, there is hope. Even if we’ve been beaten down by life, there is hope.

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10 Truths Young Girls Should Know

Growing up is a jungle. Having four daughters, I’m passionate about how young girls today navigate that jungle.

We’re all familiar with stories of mean girls, cliques, backstabbing, and social media nightmares started by one impulsive picture or post. We’ve heard of how depression and anxiety may get triggered by a single online incident. Peers cause damage quickly by spreading a rumor or picture through social media, and because kids don’t have the skills to cope with it yet,

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What Middle School Girls Should Know About Friendship

A woman in teen ministry once shared with me a term that describes the state of female friendships in the middle school years.


In other words, friendships can change a lot in this stage of life. They may ebb and flow as everyone makes new friends, explores new friendships, and sometimes grows apart.

The growing apart may not be intentional; it’s often a matter of not having classes together or the same extra-curricular activities.

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