“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
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.
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.
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,
Over time I’ve come to notice that when teen girls discuss teen boys, they 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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
As a mom of four girls, I often write about raising daughters. And on many occasions, I’ve had moms with sons ask for insights related to boys.
Obviously, I don’t have first-hand experience, but I do know many parents who do a great job cultivating boys into men. Besides taking mental notes from them, I’ve developed a hypothetical list, things I’d want to instill in a son based on personal experiences, the qualities I like to see in a man, and what I’m learning about teen culture through my work with adolescent girls and books for them.
It was a college football game weekend, and as my friend walked down sorority row with her teenage daughter, her daughter took it all in.
The energy. The buzz. The sea of people dressed in the school colors, full of excitement and hope. Out of the blue, her daughter asked a question.
“Mom, what’s the hardest part of college?”
Her mother said the first thing that came to mind: Saying no.
I once met a woman whose father failed to show her love and affection. Hungry for attention and very naïve, she went to a party one night in 9th grade, had too much to drink, and made some regrettable choices with a boy.
The next week, her phone began to ring off the hook. It wasn’t the boy reaching out – it was his friends. You see, word travels fast when a girl makes a mistake. One night was all it took for this girl to get the wrong kind of label and start attracting the worst guys, the predators who want to use girls and have no idea how to show respect.
It’s that time of year again, when girls and guys across the country are gearing up for tryout season and getting physically and mentally prepared. While I can’t help anyone with physical preparations, I can offer a few thoughts for the mental part.
Here are 3 words to keep in mind:
Confidence * Courage * Community
It started with a phone call – the kind of call every parent dreads.
The gym where my girls tumble had called to tell me that my oldest had hurt her finger and was in pain. It happened during a back-handspring and immediately started to swell.
We went to the ER, and after several hours we emerged with confirmation that she’d broken her finger and might need surgery. They scheduled us to see a hand surgeon on Monday.
It happened when my daughter was 9, and I knew immediately by the look on her face that something was wrong.
While the kids around her were all smiling and running – thrilled that school had ended early – she was trudging toward me with her shoulders slumped and a defeated expression.
I’ve never been a fan of pretense. Even as a little girl, if I sensed that a person was acting fake or a little hoity-toity for my taste, it made me want to run the other way.
I suppose that’s why I’m glad for the cultural shift in recent years where being “real” is a popular idea. Words like transparency, vulnerability, authenticity, and truth telling have gained buzz, and while pretension is still alive and kicking (thanks to social media,
Whenever I speak at mother/daughter events, the Q&A at the end often leads moms to ask questions about one particular topic.
As the first generation of parents dealing with social media, we don’t have much advice to go on. We don’t have parents ahead of us who have pioneered a path and can tell us exactly how to best prepare our kids for digital interactions.
We are the pioneers –
When people talk about teenage girls today, the conversation often turns to how addicted they are to their phones..
But what nobody seems to ask is “Why?”
Why are girls addicted to their phones?
Why do they obsess over Instagram “likes” and social media numbers?
Why can’t they put their phones down, even in the company of friends?
If you ask me,
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.
There are certain things in life worth waiting for.
A really awesome guy is one of them.
Unfortunately, our world has devalued the art of waiting. We want our heart’s desire now. And for teenage girls eager to fall in love, that eagerness can get the best of them. They may chase the boys they like instead of waiting for the right boys to chase them – and then wonder why their relationships are empty,
There are certain people in this world who soften me when I look at them.
My daughter Marie Claire is one of them.
Maybe it’s rosy cheeks. Or her starry eyes. Or her lyrical voice as sweet as honey that reminds me of a fairy.
Then again, it could be what I know about Marie Claire that isn’t readily apparent. Like how kind, tender-hearted, and compassionate she is. How she knows what to say to a friend who’s been hurt by another child.
Years ago, I heard of a high school principal who shared with a room of educators an experience from her personal life.
While speaking with her neighbor one day, she mentioned how her daughter was interested in art. The next day, her neighbor appeared on her doorstep with an unexpected gift: paint, paint brushes, and art supplies so her daughter could get started.
Obviously, this principal was moved. She couldn’t believe what her neighbor had done for her daughter.
Recently I asked my nine-year-old daughter what she wants to be when she grows up.
She eagerly replied, “I want to be awesome and make history!”
Exactly how she plans to make history is up in the air, because at her age, that part is irrelevant. All she knows is that she wants her life to count. She wants to matter. She wants a life of significance that people will remember.
And if we’re being honest,
As a writer, I like social media. I can appreciate the benefits it offers because it has opened up doors for writers by offering a quick, easy, and free way to connect with readers.
As a parent, however, I have mixed feelings toward social media. I hear stories about kids who have misused it, been hurt by it, or made a terrible mistake that went viral, and I panic because I’m raising daughters in a generation that’s still figuring out how to be smart with a smart phone.
When I began writing my first book for teen girls, I was writing for mothers. So when I sent two sample chapters to my editor for review, she offered pivotal advice that helped shape me as a writer and a mom.
She said, “This is a good start, but if you sound like a mom, the girls will stop reading. Write it instead from the voice of a wise big sister. Channel your teenage self.”
What her advice forced me to do was to put myself in the shoes of today’s girls.