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.
It’s that time of year again, time to pull out the backpacks, get haircuts, set up alarm clocks, and make 20 trips to Target because school is about to start, and Mom is on a mission.
Wherever your heart is this season – whether you’re jumping for joy because you’re ready for some space, or crying on the sofa because you aren’t ready to let your kids go – you probably have mixed emotions about the school year ahead.
My sweet father-in-law, Nestor Kampakis, passed away unexpectedly this past New Year’s Eve. Although he had Alzheimer’s, his death was a shock, altering the landscape of 2016 for our family.
Papou was a good soul and everything you’d hope for in a father: kind, loving, protective, wise, honest, committed, and faithful. He adored his family and loved anyone whom his children loved, because if someone was important to his child, they were important to him too.
After Papou died,
Several years ago, I heard about a 5th grade boy who showed character during a summer all-stars baseball game that was intense and high-stakes.
Both teams were determined to win.
The boy, named Michael, made an amazing stop at short stop. Everybody in the stands thought he’d caught the ball for an out, but it was questionable whether the ball touched the ground before landing in his mitt.
The umpire asked Michael if he’d caught the ball.
For about a year now, I’ve been pouring myself into a project that is near and dear to my heart.
And I’m thrilled to finally announce that this project is a second book with Thomas Nelson that releases this fall and will be available everywhere books are sold!
The book is called Liked: Whose Approval Are You Living For?and the official release date is November 15, 2016. Like my first book,
I have a friend who learned her daughter had cancer after going to a routine 2-year-old pediatrician visit. Her blood work was off, and this led to testing and a diagnosis the next day. As you can imagine, they were shocked and very frightened.
Her daughter is doing fantastic now, and last year we celebrated her five-year remission. One thing that’s always stuck with me, however, was a realization my friend had shortly after learning about the cancer.
Imagine your child at the top of a ski slope. They’re about to ski down for their first time, but for now, they’re relishing the view.
A blanket of snow just fell, so the view is fresh and pure. The fluffy white snow is completely blemish-free. It’s a wondrous sight, but it’s temporary. Because pretty soon, skiers will start sailing down this hill. Each one will set tracks in the snow that impact your child’s perspective.
Whoever skis down first,
It occurred to me recently that my husband and I have reached an interesting midpoint in parenting.
We’ve been parents for 13 years. We have 13 years until our youngest child leaves for college. We’re halfway to an empty nest. We’re in the thick of parenting.
Our busyness today is different from our busyness when the kids were little. While we’ve certainly hit a sweet spot (with our daughters ages 13, 11, 9 and 6, we can enjoy them without being physically exhausted and sleep-deprived),
My father-in-law passed away one week ago today. As you can imagine, there’s been a lot of tears and sadness.
And what I’ve learned about grief is, there is no need to hide it or deny it. Crying over a person isn’t a sign of weakness, but rather proof that you really loved them. Tears are tangible evidence that their life mattered to you, and their absence from your life will be deeply felt for many years to come.