When you write a book for teen and tween girls, you learn a lot about teen culture. Much of what you learn will absolutely break your heart.
And while I don’t love controversy – or being one to initiate awkward conversations – I do love girls. Because of that love, I’m venturing out of my normal blogging zone to address an issue that parents and adolescents should discuss.
And that is, sexting.
Do you have a child who’s the opposite of you, and when they’re little you don’t know what to do with that, but then they grow up and you realize what an extraordinary GIFT you’ve been given?
That’s how I feel about my Sophie Bear, who turns 10 this month.
While I’m a scaredy cat, Sophie is fearless.
While I’m sensitive, she is tough.
While I’m an introvert who loves to stay home and nest,
All of us want our life to mean something.
We want to leave a mark.
We want to make a difference.
We want to be remembered long after we die.
Yet far too often, our efforts are shortsighted. We focus on this world instead of the next. We measure success by wealth, notoriety, and living the American dream.
The bigger the bank account, the greater the legacy,
She wasn’t part of my plan. And for that reason alone, I couldn’t wrap my head around her.
I took the pregnancy test for peace of mind. I knew I wasn’t pregnant…yet I had to make sure. A missed cycle had stirred doubt in my head. That doubt bothered me. I wanted it to go away so I could get on with life.
When the test turned positive, my heart sank. A tsunami of emotions swelled inside me,
One January several years ago, I was having coffee with some moms when the conversation turned to Christmas — and how differently women and men handle the holiday.
A story one mom shared essentially summed up the gender gap that tends to appear this time of year.
It was a busy Saturday, and as she ran circles around the house, her head exploding with things to do (buy a tree! decorate it!
Let me begin with THANK YOU!
Thank you for reading my blog and newspaper column. Thank you for sharing my stories. Thank you for making this blog post for teen girls go viral and setting in motion a dream come true when Thomas Nelson, one of the world’s largest Christian publishers, asked if I’d be interested in turning that post into a book.
Clearly I said,
A while back, I had a conversation with a beautiful 13-year-old girl in which the name of a popular teenager came up. With starry eyes and her face suddenly aglow, this 13-year-old exclaimed:
“She’s so pretty! She’s so perfect! I want to be her!!!”
I understood her remark, because I once thought this same way. I once considered perfection the holy grail, the ultimate goal a girl should strive for.
But due to my history in chasing perfectionism,
There’s a certain reality to being female that no one can deny.
And that reality is, the better you look, the more compliments and attention you receive.
It took me a long to realize how powerfully motivating this is for teen girls in particular, approaching their physical peak. When adults talk about teen girls today, the conversation often revolves around how vain and beauty-obsessed this generation of selfie-takers has become. And while that’s generally true,
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,
In February 2014, a dear friend of mine lost her husband in a tragic accident. As multitudes of people flocked to lift her family up and help in their time of need, I reached out to a mom who had lost her spouse years ago to see if she had advice on how to help a grieving friend.
It turned out she did. She had excellent advice, in fact, and because grief is relevant to all of our lives,
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.
My family and I have had a great summer. We’ve been to the beach, stayed up late laughing and being silly, caught up with friends, and enjoyed extra time together that I try to cherish because I know one day, we’ll be going in different directions.
With the extra time together, however, comes the reminder of how extra-comfortable we get around the people we’re with the most.
We let down our guard.
Recently I spoke with a girl who shared with me a time when she’d been left out by friends.
It happened at school and started with a club her friends created. The club had its own rules, and when she overheard some girls in her class talking about it, she asked if she could join.
“Sure,” they replied, and with that she was a member.
Later that day, however, she overhead the mastermind behind the club –
Once upon a time, there were four little girls who begged for a dog.
Their names were Ella, Sophie, Marie Claire, and Camille.
“No,” said their parents, their voices firm and adamant. “Absolutely not.”
The little girls pushed. They whined. They cried and gave their parents a major guilt trip about being the ONLY FAMILY ON EARTH that didn’t have a dog. But the parents didn’t budge. They were united, and they told the girls that maybe,
It’s May, and you know what that means.
Time to recognize and celebrate every unsung hero called Mom.
Most mothers don’t give themselves enough credit. They may admit they’re a good mom, but a great mom? I believe many would choke on the word. Women are too hard on themselves, and nowhere is this more apparent than in motherhood.
Following are 10 truths moms should know. I hope they serve as encouragement, hope, and a well-deserved pat on the back.
Several years ago, our family had a huge oak tree fall on our home during a storm.
It wasn’t just any home – it was our forever home. We’d moved in 10 days earlier. At last we had the space to spread out and breathe. We’d waited for this a long time.
The destruction was major, forcing us to move out. I know God doesn’t work this way, but at first it felt like punishment,
There’s a saying in football that I’ve always liked: “When you get into the end zone, act like you’ve been there before.”
This is excellent advice, and when something good happens, I try to keep it in mind.
But sometimes my enthusiasm gets the best of me. Sometimes it swells and takes on a life of its own. While I’d like to act like I’ve been there before, that’s a challenge for a girl who’s a bad actress and tends to wear her emotions on her sleeve.
Last fall, I attended an insightful Bible study. The message resonated with me long after I left that afternoon.
The Bible Study was for my 5th grade daughter and her classmates. The leader was Donna Greene, who has ministered to girls for 40 years here in Mountain Brook, Alabama.
Donna’s message that day – how to build bridges, not walls – was perfect for 5th grade girls. Using true stories to illustrate,
Life is hard. Disappointments happen. Sometimes we lose when we deserve to win. Sometimes we win when we deserve to lose.
As adults, we’ve had practice coping with letdowns. But for children, the pain is fresh and the wounds particularly deep. They’re not prepared for unexpected blows, nor do they understand how a loss might benefit them long-term. One rejection can feel like the new norm, and with every subsequent defeat they may fear they’ll never break the cycle.
There’s one day a year that I wear my faith on my forehead. Yes, on Ash Wednesday anyone who crosses my path can see that I’m a Christian.
And while I’ve been wearing the ashen cross since I was a child, it wasn’t until college that I truly grasped the meaning behind it. It took a major disappointment for me to learn a lesson that impacts me still today.
I was eighteen at the time,
When my friend Greta got engaged many years ago, a man she knew from work shared a story I’ll always remember.
In essence, he told Greta the key to marriage is to love your spouse even when you don’t feel like it. Using his own life to explain, he described a period in which he and his wife hit a wall. They were fighting constantly and very disconnected. Their marriage hung by a thread.
Her birthday was coming up,
“Just give her extra love, Kari. Just give her extra love.”
The words were so simple, yet exactly what I needed to hear. Once again my father came through with flying colors, offering advice to ease my anxiety.
It came during a time when I was worried about my daughter. It wasn’t anything major, just a situation that had popped up.
And though I knew better, I made the mistake of getting on Google.
“I try not to judge other people’s kids because I never know what mine might do.”
My late grandmother used to say this, and I think it’s as relevant today as it was in her time. None of us have room to judge, none of us are supposed to judge, yet we do it anyway. Within parenting circles, the tendency is to judge both other parents and their kids.
In many cases, it starts innocently enough.
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.
When I got married, I went from being called Kari Kubiszyn to being called Kari Kampakis. Transitioning from one odd name to another was easy. Figuring out who this new person was, however, launched an identity crisis that I didn’t expect.
I was thrilled to finally live in the same city as Harry, but moving to Huntsville from Birmingham meant leaving my friends, my family, and a job I adored. In Birmingham everything clicked for me, but in Huntsville I couldn’t catch a groove,