“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” Viktor W. Frankl
Mom sets the tone.
For years I’d heard this saying, yet it didn’t really register until I witnessed it firsthand.
It was 2011, and my daughters were young. We’d gone to dinner to celebrate a new home that the sellers said was ours. My girls had chosen their bedrooms, and our family was giddy with excitement. After years of being crammed into tight quarters, we were desperate for more space.
And that’s when the curveball came. Halfway through dinner, our real estate agent called and said the owners signed with another family. We soon discovered how they used our contract to get a higher offer.
I was heartbroken – and mad. We’d let ourselves get attached to this house because we thought it was a done deal.
“Our prayers may be awkward. Our attempts may be feeble. But since the power of prayer is in the one who hears it and not the one who says it, our prayers do make a difference.”
When my daughter was 2 years old, she went into anaphylactic shock from eating a food that we didn’t know she was allergic to.
It was a terrifying, painful reminder of how life can change in a blink.
By God’s grace the EpiPen worked, but that night changed me. It was my third major parenting scare, one that left me shaken for days and ready to bargain with God.
I didn’t like how different my faith looked before a scare versus after a scare. It felt wrong. Why did it take an emergency to bring me to my knees? Why did I regret the way I forgot God on normal days and clung to Him in a crisis?
Deep down, I knew I depended on Him for every breath in my lungs, yet I felt self-sufficient until a crisis hit. Seeing my child in danger and feeling helpless to save her made it crystal-clear that I have far less control than I believe.
I have a friend (I’ll call her Janie) who is very outgoing and talkative.
When she was in high school, she told her mom everything. She opened up and shared her heart like every mother hopes and dreams her daughter will.
Things changed, however, when Janie was in 11th grade and overhead her mom talking on the phone one day to a friend. Her mom told this friend how she was afraid Janie might follow her boyfriend to college – but she hoped she wouldn’t because it’s not like they were going to get married.
In that moment, Janie felt violated. Hearing her mom discuss the private life details that she’d revealed in confidence totally blindsided her. That day, Janie says, was a game-changer in their relationship. Although she remained close to her mother and still loved her, she never opened up to the same degree again.
This story is a great illustration of why it’s increasingly important to protect our kids’ privacy as they grow up. For one, it’s the right thing to do, and two, if they find out we’ve shared too much about them – especially in the teenage years – they’ll shut down on us. They’ll find someone else to be their safe place and sounding board.
During a Spring Break family trip to a Caribbean island, I got a text from my daughter’s friend.
Help! These guys are begging us to party with them tonight, and they won’t leave us alone.
I reached the girls quickly, thanks to it being a small resort. Sure enough, 5 young men were surrounding and flirting with my daughter and her friend, both 16 years old, as they laid out. The girls were trying to be polite, so I told the guys – who looked to be 20 – that they weren’t interested.
They left, and when my husband arrived, the girls explained how they couldn’t get rid of the guys. They kept pushing the girls to leave the resort, even as they repeatedly turned them down.
With anger crossing his face, my husband’s protective side came out. “Girls,” he said, “you’ve got to be blunt. If blunt doesn’t work, get ugly. Don’t beat around the bush, especially with guys like that. Next time tell them to get lost. Or get up and report them to the front desk.”
It was great advice – yet advice I’d never heard. For many females, being blunt doesn’t come naturally, especially when you’re raised to have good manners. But sometimes, manners must fly out the window, and as we prepare our daughters for the real world, it’s imperative to talk through scenarios that may call for a different voice.
“I’m not so sure being in the same place is the same as being friends.”
E.B. White, Charlotte’s Web
An 11th grade girl missed 2 weeks of school due to an emotional breakdown.
From her large friend group, only 1 girl checked on her, which fueled her fear that her friendships weren’t real.
A 10th grade girl got booted from her friend group. They treated her terribly, yet she was scared to leave because the groups at her school were set in stone, and she had no place to go.
A 9th grade girl saw a dominant new leader convince her friend group to exclude her. Her mom tried to stay upbeat, but seeing her daughter so hurt and spending every weekend at home made her want to cry.
An 8th grade girl got dropped from a group text. First her friends stopped replying to her comments. Then they started a new thread without her.
A 7th grade girl who was kind and well-liked suddenly got edged out. Even her mom noticed how the other moms and daughters would get together without them, and they didn’t understand why.