The Teen Years Don’t Look Like I Thought They Would

Teenager

The other day, a boy told my older daughter that she’s beautiful. I don’t disagree with the sentiment, and I like the boy. But when I heard that, I looked at my daughter, and I wondered where the days went.

I wonder when this young lady standing in front of me grew up. I wonder when she went from a toddler with a pixie cut to this tall girl with waist-length hair standing in front of me. I wonder when those blue eyes went from being mischievous to being windows to her soul.

To be truthful, this stage doesn’t look anything like I thought it would when she was that toddler. I assumed that when she was a teenager, we there would be solid rules around her about things like dating and curfews. I figured there would be more drama and less conversation.

I’m discovering, though, that while there are boundaries, parenting this teen is a lot more fluid than I ever dreamed it would be.

I’m learning that a lot of the ideas I had about how to parent a teen simply don’t hold water. Because she’s not that little toddler any more. She’s a young woman with hopes, dreams and ideas of her own. She often makes valid arguments and forces me to see a situation differently.

And I’m deciding that that’s OK. Because I’m also learning that to parent effectively in this stage, I have to lean even more heavily on God’s wisdom than on my own. Because she is her own person, and she needs to be able to make decisions on her own.

I’m learning that every situation she encounters doesn’t fall into the nice little box of rules that I’d like to make and that we have to make decisions based on where she is in that moment. I’m discovering there’s less “Do this because I said so” and more open conversation about making good choices and learning life lessons.

All this means I’m learning how to rest on the Holy Spirit’s wisdom. I’m learning to let go of my hard and fast ideas of what the teenage years should look like and deal with what they really do look like. That means I spend a lot of time praying over my teen and her friends. It means I spend a lot of time seeking out wisdom from people who have already walked this route.

God is teaching me that we need to set larger boundaries but that we need to seek Him in the individual stuff. We need to drop it in His lap and let Him lead the way instead of me leading the way.

We’re learning that if we deal with the situations she faces individually within some clearly defined boundaries, it gives us a lot more flexibility to parent her well. It gives us a chance to teach her to make good decisions on her own instead of forcing her to make those decisions within a rigid set of rules that we set for her.

Because teaching our teens to make good decisions is what it’s all about. We’re not always going to be there to set the rules for them. They need to be able to choose the right path on their own.

So, while this teenage thing looks different than what I thought, it is teaching both her and me how to seek God’s wisdom first. It’s teaching us how to communicate with each other effectively. Some days, it’s hard. Other days, it’s a whole lot of fun.

But I still wonder where the time has gone.

 

Don’t forget to check out my new book Everyday Truth: Teaching your kids about God during life’s everyday moments. Available in paperback at Amazon.com.

3d cover small

Categories: Parenting situations | Leave a comment

Why We Shouldn’t Fight Our Kids’ Battles for Them

battle

A couple of weeks ago, my older daughter chose to have a very difficult conversation with her soccer coach. She was struggling on the field, and she felt like if her coach made a few changes in the way he was coaching her that it would make a big difference in how she played. But she had to tell him.

We talked through the situation over and over and over again. She knew that she had some issues she had to own both on the field and in the way she was mentally approaching the game. But she needed help, and she had to ask for it.

Now, my daughter is an introvert and not a fan of conflict of any kind. She did not want to talk to her coach. I offered to do it for her or to help her, but she decided it was something she had to do on her own.

So a few weeks ago, she did. She stayed after practice and talked to him. She got in the car frustrated with herself. She had cried while she was talking to him, mostly because she was so nervous. She wasn’t sure she had made her points well, and she was worried about how her coach would respond.

The good news is her coach is a great guy. He listened to her and made a few small changes. The even better news is that simply having that talk gave her more confidence on the field and off.

She identified a problem, handled the situation with as much grace as a 13-year-old can muster, and learned that she can handle even the most difficult situations on her own.

And I learned something, too. I learned that when we let our kids fight their own battles, we see them grow right before our eyes. My daughter has played better on the soccer field in the past three weeks than she’s played all season. Some of that is attributable to all the hard work she has been putting in. But some of it goes back to the confidence she gained from talking to her coach, from knowing that even when the situation is difficult, she can handle it herself.

And that confidence has translated into other situations off the field she’s had since then. She feels like she has learned how to talk to anyone in any situation. She’s gained confidence that she can tackle a tough problem and solve it.

My first instinct as a mom is to step in and help my kids. Especially if one of my kids is struggling, and I know the answer to the issue, I want to fix it. But when we do that, we rob our kids of the opportunity to gain confidence in solving their problems themselves. We take away a teaching opportunity.

Make no mistake, there are situations where we need to step in as parents, but there are many situations when we step in way too soon. Instead of letting our kids learn to be advocates for themselves and engage in simple problem-solving, we solve the problem for them.

The truth is that it’s our job as parents to equip our kids with the tools they need to deal with difficult problems. If we solve the problems for them, we’re not giving them those tools. We’re simply removing the problem. Our kids need those problems. They need to learn that life is full of problems that have to be solved. They need to learn to look to God for wisdom and answers to their problems. They need to learn how to identify and resolve issues on their own.

And we, as parents, have to step back and let them do that. We can and should offer advice. We can and should show them how problem-solving is done. We can and should offer any type of support they need. But when push comes to shove, there are an awful lot of situations that we need to let them take a stab at solving on their own.

Because learning to solve problems is an essential skill in life. And when our kids solve them on their own, they gain confidence that we can never give them any other way.

Categories: Character | Leave a comment

Beautiful Together

beautiful together

Her sweet little hand grabbed tightly onto mine as she brought a piece of paper right up to my nose and said proudly, “This is me and you, Mommy. You are making me all better.”

“From what?” I asked.

“From this, of course,” as she shoved a little thumb in my general direction and pointed to a red mark the size of a pin prick. I smiled with a “Looks terribly serious.” She nodded a bit and sighed, “So do you like the picture, Mommy?”

I squished her a little and then looked down into her big, brown eyes while I melted into my reply, “I think it’s beautiful, sis.” To which she scrunched up her button nose, looked up at me and said, “Yep! It’s just you and me being beautiful together.”

And just like that, off she skipped…and there I stood, taking in an all too familiar inventory.

My dirty yoga pants. My newly drawn surgery scars. My less-than-lovely purple toenails.

My this and that. My what and what. My blah to the blah, blah, blah…

But something kept tapping at my heart…it was her little voice echoing in my mind with such unabashed certainty, “Yep! It’s just you and me being beautiful together.”

No hesitation. No pause. No time for inventory.

In her eyes, I was beautiful. Not because I was sporting a new pedicure or a perfect body or a fabulous new pair of jeans. I was beautiful because I loved every single bit of her.

Be it in kissing a nonexistent boo-boo or cutting the crusts off her sandwich or taking her to the bathroom at Target four times in thirty minutes. Be it in squishing her close when she cried or playing the Cinderella game 20 times or taking the 10 outfits she’d tried on in a day out of the dirty laundry. Be it in anything so utterly mundane that the world might find it unimportant.

For her, it meant everything.

And somewhere in all that complete and total love, she found beautiful and made me see beautiful too.

For a mama’s beauty isn’t a put-together, perfect picture, chasing-youth kind of a deal. A mama’s beauty is in her broken—be it her body, her heart or her laugh-lined face. It grows beside hospital beds and sleepless nights and broken curfews and shattered little dreams. It is often forged in tears and exhaustion and the precious effort to put one blessed foot in front of the other. It is not reflected in something so insignificant as a mirror but rather, it is most clearly seen in the eyes of Jesus as she faceplants at the foot of His throne.

Mamas, it is this kind of beauty that our sons and our daughters need from us. So that when he endeavors to love the mama of his children, he sees her dark circles and worn out body as something breathtaking and precious. And so that when she looks at her stretch marks, she does not wince or retreat, but instead she sees beautiful.

So. That. When.

Years from now, as she comes to me frayed by the daily of mamahood, I can sit her down, look deeply into those big, brown eyes and say, “Let me tell you the story of a little girl and a picture. Her mama with bouffant hair and she, with googly eyes dancing. Let me tell you about her scrunched up nose, her sweet little hand and the words that changed it all. Yes, my sweet love, let me tell you a story…”

A story of just you and me being beautiful together.

Sara Cormany guest posts on the first Friday of each month. Sara is mommy to six-year-old Grace, four-year-old Drew, one-year-old Sophie, and her new little miracle Maddie.  When she is not wiping noses, changing diapers or chasing her kids, she is a sometimes writer and a sometimes teacher to teenagers.  But her most cherished role is that of one who is perfectly held by Jesus. She loves watching Him take the broken, the messy and the seemingly mundane of her everyday and turn it into something beautiful. She recently began her own blog called Where Feet May Fail. Be sure to check it out.
Categories: First Friday, Guest post | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

What Defines Your Child?

Value

If you’ve read this blog for very long at all, you know we’re a sports family. Both girls are heavily involved in sports, and they take up a big chunk of our time and budget.

I love that my girls play sports. I truly believe that being on a team and competing has huge benefits — especially for girls. But sometimes those sports can cause a whole lot of agony.

My older daughter has had a rough soccer season for a lot of reasons. She’s been really frustrated, and there have been a whole bunch of tears. It’s become all-consuming for her. How do I get better? How do I communicate effectively with my coach? What if I lose my spot on the team? These are conversations we’re having almost daily around here.

And it’s not healthy. Soccer had gotten to a point where it had really overrun everything else in my daughter’s life. Don’t get me wrong, I want my kids to be passionate about what they do. I want them to go hard after what they want. I want them to give anything they do their best effort.

But when something surrounding that thing they’re so passionate about goes wrong, I don’t want it to consume their lives. I don’t want them to be so miserable that it’s hard to find a smile at all. I don’t want it to be the only thing they think about.

So, the other night my daughter and I were at dinner by ourselves. We had a long talk about where soccer belonged in her life. We talked about how it’s important to want to solve the problems she’s having, but it’s not OK to let it affect every aspect of her life. And then I said to her: “Soccer is something you do. It is not who you are.”

Because we had let soccer become something that defined my daughter. Her identity, her self-worth, her entire world was wrapped up in this sport. And that’s not OK. Because while she loves to play it and she has some talent for it, it isn’t the only thing in her life. We needed to put soccer back in it’s appropriate slot in her life — as something she loves to do. Because nothing she does or doesn’t do on the field makes her any less of a person. It doesn’t change her priorities or who she is.

When we let the activities our kids do define who they are, their self-worth gets tied to a score or a performance instead of being tied to their intrinsic value as a child of God.

In this world where we’re told our kids need to find the thing they love and they need to follow that thing wherever it leads, it’s up to us as parents to remind our kids that their worth as a person isn’t found in anything that they do. They are loved and cherished simply because they are God’s creation. God does not care if they are a soccer star, a straight-A student or a prima ballerina.  He loves them because He made them.

Our kids should absolutely pursue their passions. They should chase their dreams. They should work hard and give it everything they have. But they shouldn’t let what they do define them. They shouldn’t let the things they are involved in be the measure of their self-worth.

That means sometimes we have to help our kids examine the pressure they are putting on themselves. We have to ask them the hard questions about where they are drawing their identity from. We have to help them keep the things they do in their lives from defining who they are.

Last night, my daughter played her best game of the season. She walked on the field with an entirely different attitude. She looked like she was having fun. She looked confident. But that confidence didn’t come from anything she knew she could do on the field. It came from knowing that no criticism could take away her value. It came from understanding that failure on the field wouldn’t make her any less important to us or to God.

Sometimes we need to step back and assess the value our kids are placing on their accomplishments and failures. Sometimes they need to be reminded that their identity is not found in what they do but in who God says they are. Because when they know and understand that, everything else will fall into place.

Don’t forget to check out my new book Everyday Truth: Teaching your kids about God during life’s everyday moments. Available in paperback at Amazon.com.

3d cover small

Categories: Parenting situations, Sports | Leave a comment

Raising an Introvert in an Extrovert World

introvert

My older daughter is an introvert in the truest sense of the word. She draws her energy from being alone. Interacting with other people is an incredible drain on her energy. And the thought of having to address a problem situation or be a part of conflict is horrifying on a scale that is almost paralyzing.

My daughter is almost 14, and it has taken me nearly that long to figure out how to parent an introvert and how to help her navigate a world that tends to reward extrovert behaviors. I couldn’t be more different from her. I love people. I’ve never met a stranger. The more people there are around me, the happier I am.

But my daughter doesn’t operate like that, and while I don’t truly understand her dislike of crowds and small talk, I do know that God made her that way for a reason. She is just as “fearfully and wonderfully made” as all the extroverts in this world.

Recently, we’ve encountered a couple of situations that remind me just how hard this world is to navigate for the truly introverted. Raising an introvert takes an extra measure of wisdom and patience. It takes encouraging and prompting and a lot of understanding of how the introvert brain works.

So, here’s five things I’ve learned in nearly 14 years of parenting an introvert:

1. Introverts don’t need lots of people. It used to frustrate me to see my daughter always on the fringes of events. She’d be the one on the outside of the team huddle or the one standing on the corner of the room at a party. She might be talking to one or two other people, but she was never seeking out people to talk to. The truth about introverts is that they simply don’t need a lot of people in their lives. They need a handful of people who they know they can count on, and that’s enough. They aren’t necessarily interested in making a whole bunch of new friends, and their extrovert parents need to be OK with that. Success is not defined by how many friends you have. It’s the quality of those relationships that matter.

2. Change is hard for everyone, but it’s even harder for an introvert. Changing teachers, coaches, teams or houses is harder for introverts than it is for extroverts. Change means your introvert is going to have to expend a whole lot of emotional energy to make new friends or impress a new teacher or coach. They aren’t naturally inclined to reach out to someone else, so if they encounter a coach, teacher or a group of kids who aren’t willing to invest some time in getting your introvert to open up, then introverts may have a really rough time until they can muster up enough courage and energy to reach out to someone themselves.

3. Don’t correct behavior in front of other people. Unless it relates to the safety of your child or other people, save your criticism and correction for a private moment. Introverts hate to be the center of attention for any reason but especially if they have done something wrong. If you want your correction to be effective, do it in private. If you correct them in public, the likelihood is that your child will be so mortified at being corrected in public and so distraught about being the center of attention that they may not even hear what you’re saying.

4. Praise is important. Introverts tend to internalize everything. They often don’t speak up for themselves even when they believe the other person is wrong. It takes a huge amount of emotional energy for an introvert to tell you you’re wrong or that they disagree with you. It goes back to the drawing attention to yourself thing. Many introverts take everything that’s said to them to heart, which means they need plenty of praise when they are doing something right.

5. Keep the yelling to a minimum. As I said, introverts really don’t like to be the center of attention. Nothing draws attention to them like yelling. My daughter tells me that when she is being yelled at, she can’t even focus on what’s being said. Not because she doesn’t want to or she’s not trying. She’s simply too upset about being yelled at to focus.

Being introverted doesn’t mean that your child can’t succeed in this world that tends to reward extroverts. It just means that you’ll need to do a lot more parenting and coaching along the way. Here are five strategies I’ve learned for helping your introverted child navigate a world that requires so much energy from them.

1. Protect your child’s alone time. Introverts truly need to be left alone to recharge. If your child disappears into her room for hours at a time after a ridiculously busy week, leave her alone. Check to make sure nothing is wrong, then respect her need to be alone. She’ll rejoin the family when her tank has been refilled.

2. Coach your child through difficult situations. When your child encounters a situation that requires him to resolve a conflict or have a hard conversation, be his coach. Role play the situation. Throw every possible reaction you can think of at him. Encourage him to write up some notes to take into the conversation. Simply drawing attention to himself by starting the conversation will be nerve-wracking for your introvert, so having notes to rely on will help him remember all the points he wanted to make.

3. Keep groups small. If your child is having a party or getting together with some friends, keep the group small. Your child is going to interact better with a couple of people she really likes than with a group of 10 or 15. Don’t insist on 20 people at her birthday party if what she really wants is her two closest friends. There’s nothing worse than watching your child wander the fringes of her own birthday party (believe me, I know).

4. Ask your introvert what their thoughts are. Introverts often won’t volunteer their thoughts. I’m pretty sure my daughter’s sixth-grade language arts teacher had no idea who she was. My daughter never raised her hand in class, so the teacher never heard from her. My daughter is smart and funny. She has incredibly deep thoughts, but a lot of people miss out on the chance to hear those thoughts because they are waiting for her to share them on her own. The best question you can ask an introvert is “What do you think?” You might be surprised at the response you get.

5. Be patient. It may take your introvert longer to settle in to a new situation than other kids around her. It took my daughter an entire year to get her feet under her in middle school. She’s struggled through other situations like changing coaches and having to make new friends, as well. And it always seems to take her just a bit longer than other, more extroverted kids. Be there to offer encouragement, mop up tears and offer up different strategies.

Parenting an introvert can be an exercise in patience and frustration, especially if you’re not an introvert yourself. It can be hard not to just step in and deal with a difficult situation for them, especially because you understand how much of an emotional toll those situations can take on your introvert. But the best thing we can do for our introverts is to treasure their personalities and offer strategies and encouragement for dealing with those tough situations. We can help set them up for success without changing who they are.

Because the last thing we want to do is devalue our child’s inherent personality. Those introverted kids are often some of the kindest, most compassionate people you’ll meet — probably because they are busy watching others while us extroverts are busy talking.

Introverts can succeed in this world. They just need a little coaching, a lot of love and the knowledge that their less-exuberant personalities are as valuable as those of their extroverted friends and family.

Don’t forget to check out my new book Everyday Truth: Teaching your kids about God during life’s everyday moments. Available in paperback at Amazon.com.

3d cover small

Categories: Parenting situations | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

What You Should Expect from Your Kids

the best

Expectations. They’re the root cause of so many frustrations in life. We expect one thing, and we get another. And we’re disappointed.

How many times have you sat at a sporting event for one of your kids and been disappointed that your kid was checking out the pretty butterfly instead of scoring the winning goal? How many awards assemblies have you sat at watching child after child pick up academic award after academic award while your child is there for perfect attendance?

The world today is full of competition and comparison. I think Instagram and Facebook make it very difficult to appreciate the lives we have, the children we have and the spouses we have. We’re bombarded with the daily accomplishments of other people in our lives. No one is posting that they haven’t managed to get a shower yet today and their house is covered in a 2-inch-thick layer of dust. No one posts pictures of the days when every kid in the house is crying because you lost your temper. No one is bragging about how their kid tripped over the base and cost their team the winning run.

And it is so, so easy for us and our kids to get caught up in the comparison trap. It is so, so easy to raise the bar on our expectations for our kids to a level that they were never designed to meet.

My kids are both athletes. They are fairly decent at the sports they play. But you know what? My younger daughter can’t draw a stick figure, and her handwriting is terrible. My older daughter struggles to spell words correctly and can’t cut a straight line with a pair of scissors to save her life.

God created me and my kids different from the way He created you and your kids. He gave us different gifts and talents than He gave the members of your family.

When we place expectations on our kids that aren’t realistic for their gifts and talents, we tell them that we aren’t satisfied with the way God made them. We tell them that we don’t appreciate the gifts and talents they do have. We tell them that they simply aren’t good enough.

It would be ridiculous for me to expect my older daughter to win the spelling bee or for my younger daughter to win an art competition. Those are unrealistic expectations. But sometimes we as parents get so caught up in being able to say “My kid is the best” that we forget that not every kid has to be the best. They simple have to be their best.

So, here’s a list of the five things we expect from our kids. These are expectations that teach work ethic and respect. They are not targeted at being better than everyone else. They are simply aimed at making our kids the best they can be so they can do the work God intended for them.

1. Give 100% to everything you do. Live out the words of Colossians 3:23. What you do is a reflection of your love for God.

2. Be respectful of everyone. Practice the Golden Rule in Matthew 7:12.

3. Ask for help when you need it. We can’t all be good at everything. Not asking for help is a sign of being prideful, and pride is destructive (Proverbs 16:18).

4. Offer help when it’s needed. God gave you gifts and talents to use for Him. If someone else needs your help, offer it and give it cheerfully.

5. Remember your gifts and talents come from God. Give Him the glory when things go well and seek His guidance when things don’t go your way.

Our kids need to know that we appreciate who they are. They need to know that we don’t expect them to excel at everything. But they also need to know that we do have expectations of them — ones that they can meet no matter what their gifts or talents are.

Because being the best isn’t the goal. Being their best is.

Don’t forget to check out my new book Everyday Truth: Teaching your kids about God during life’s everyday moments. Available in paperback at Amazon.com.

3d cover small

 

Categories: Parenting situations | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

When Your Child Struggles

struggling

I hate watching my kids struggle. I hate watching the tears roll down their faces. I hate watching them put everything they have into doing something well, and it’s still not enough.

But sometimes that’s what I need to do. I need to watch. When my kids struggle, my first instinct is to step in and help. That’s what moms do, right? We help our kids. But sometimes, what they need is to struggle. Sometimes what they need is to learn to be an advocate for themselves. Sometimes what they need is to learn that not every effort leads to success. Sometimes what they need is to find that success often only comes through struggle.

But it’s so hard to watch. My older daughter is going through a struggle right now. And I can see how to make the situation improve. I can see the words that need to be said and the actions that need to be taken. But she has begged me not to step in. She has asked to handle the situation on her own. She’s almost 14, and because it’s not something that impacts her safety or her physical well-being, I need to let her.

I can stand by and offer support. I can offer suggestions. I can point her in the direction of people who can help her. But at this point, I can’t step in. I can’t save her from the struggle. And it is so very hard. As many tears as she has shed, I’ve shed more. I hate to see my kids hearts hurt.

But going through a struggle makes our kids stronger on the other side. They learn that they can survive. They learn that they can solve a problem themselves. They learn that the things you have to work hard for are the things that are worth having. 1 Peter 1:6-7 says “In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”

When our kids struggle, they are going through their own refining process. God may be using those struggles to teach them something they’ll need to know in the future. He may be using those struggles to strengthen their faith. He may be using those struggles to point them in a different direction.

If we always step in and save our kids from the struggle, our kids will never learn those life lessons. They may never learn new skills or head in a different direction.

When our kids are struggling, they need us to be a soft landing place for them. They need to know that we’re there to offer hugs, to wipe up tears, to offer advice and to let them know that they are unconditionally loved. They need to be reminded that their self-worth doesn’t come from the thing they are struggling with but from knowing they are a dearly loved child of God. But they may not need us to step in.

Because every kid is going to struggle. If we save them from the struggle, we deprive them of the opportunity to learn how strong they really are. And we may be robbing them of an important lesson God is trying to teach them.

Don’t forget to check out my new book Everyday Truth: Teaching your kids about God during life’s everyday moments. Available in paperback at Amazon.com.

3d cover small

Categories: Parenting situations | Tags: , | Leave a comment

A Birthday Prayer for My 12-Year-Old

Birthday prayer

My younger daughter turns 12 tomorrow. I have no idea where the time has gone, but watching her grow up is one of the great joys of my life. This child has taught me so much. She has challenged me in ways I didn’t know I could be challenged. And she has always shown me that it takes courage and strength to be the person God created you to be.

So as this precious child of my heart turns 12, this is my prayer for her.

A Birthday Prayer

I pray you know more joy and laughter this year than you know tears and sorrow.

I pray you never forget that God created you to be you — no matter what anyone else says.

I pray you continue to grow in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.

I pray that you will never lose your zest to learn something new.

I pray that you will learn to look before you leap but that you will never lose your enthusiasm for doing the things you love.

I pray that you will continue to look around you and see the needs of others. And that you will then meet those needs.

I pray that you will be surrounded by good friends who will make you laugh, carry your burdens and encourage you to seek God.

I pray that you will continue to grow closer to God and that you will make Him a priority in your life.

I pray that you will be healthy and strong.

I pray that you will never lose sight of what’s important in life.

I pray that you will never be swayed by anyone telling you the things that you are passionate about aren’t the right things.

I pray that you will be a good friend to others.

I pray that you will never believe anyone who tells you that who you are isn’t good enough.

I pray that you will always know that you are loved.

Precious child of mine, I pray that your coming year is a great one. I pray that even when you are lonely, frustrated, scared or sad that you will know that we have your back and more importantly that God has your back. I thank God every day that He gave you to us. Our life is richer and full of so much more joy with you in it. No matter what this year holds, remember you are precious and you are loved.

Don’t forget to check out my new book Everyday Truth: Teaching your kids about God during life’s everyday moments. Available in paperback at Amazon.com.

3d cover small

Categories: Birthday | Tags: , | Leave a comment

What Do You Need to Succeed?

Succeed

I’ve been learning a lot about success from my older daughter this week. I wrote last week about how soccer has been a rough go this season. She changed coaches. She’s been hurt. She’s struggling to pick up everything new she needs to know to compete.

And this weekend it all came to a head. She made a mistake in an important game that led to a goal. She made the same mistake in the next game. She came home discouraged and frustrated. She felt like she would never get it. She felt like the worst player on the team. She felt like she had let her teammates, her coach and herself down.

After the tears had been shed (a lot from her, a few from me because it’s never easy to watch your kid struggle), I asked her this question: “What do you need to succeed?” The answer to that question could have been anything. She could have told me she was done playing soccer. She could have told me she didn’t know. She could have told me she needed me to be quiet.

But she didn’t tell me any of those things. As we talked, she identified that she needed to figure out where she was having trouble, and she needed more practice to fix it. So, we made a plan. She asked to talk to her coach and went in prepared to hear what he had to say. Some of what he told her was hard to hear, but he clearly identified three areas she needed to work on. He told her what she was doing wrong and how to fix it.

Next, we addressed how to get her more practice. We added two practices to the schedule each week to increase the amount of time she has to get touches on the ball. She’s committed to putting in the practice to get better, to learn how to not make the same mistakes.

So, now she has a plan and the work ethic to follow through, but what I learned this week is that we all struggle with something in our lives. Our kids all have something on their plate that isn’t going the way they want it to. And too often, we try to solve that problem for them. We try to identify the issues and fix them. What we should be doing, though, is teaching them how to identify the issues and to figure out what they need to fix them.

We need to be asking our kids “What do you need to succeed?” about everything in their lives. Because what they need to succeed may not be the same thing that you or I would need to succeed in the same situation. God made each of us different. He gave each of us the ability to tackle problems in a different way. We have to recognize that each of our children may need something different from us to help them succeed.

Success in any endeavor is ultimately up to our kids. They have to put in the work and the time to succeed. But we can help by providing them with the things that they need to succeed.  We just have to ask them and help them identify what those things are.

So the next time your child is struggling with something, set aside the temptation to simply fix the problem. Instead, ask “What do you need to succeed?”

Don’t forget to check out my new book Everyday Truth: Teaching your kids about God during life’s everyday moments. Available in paperback at Amazon.com.

3d cover small

Categories: Character, Parenting situations | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Everyday Truth: The Book

3d coverI’ve often been asked when I was going to write another book. The truth is I already had one written. That book you see at the top has been sitting on the back burner, just waiting its turn to be published.

I’m not really sure why it took me so long to put it out there. Publishing these days is pretty easy, especially if you publish it yourself. I think the biggest reason was the one that holds so many of us back from our dreams: fear. What if I put it out there and no one wanted to read it? What if no one but my mom likes it? What if it’s a huge failure?

But here’s the thing. God has called me to be a writer. He’s given me the talent and the drive to go after this. He’s led hundreds of people to this blog every day, and a couple thousand to the Everyday Truth Facebook page (which you should go check out if you haven’t already). So, who am I to balk at the next step He’s asked me to take?

2 Timothy 1:7 says “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” If I let fear keep me from taking the steps God is asking me to take, if I let a timid spirit hold me back, then I’m letting fear control my life instead of my love for God. And that’s no way to live.

So, here it is, the next step on the Everyday Truth journey — Everyday Truth the book. It’s a hybrid Bible study/parenting book, and it’s packed full of scripture and practical things you can do to take the everyday stuff in your life and turn it into teachable moments to turn your kids’ hearts and minds toward God. It’s probably most useful for those of you with preschool and elementary-age kids, but you parents of teens will probably find some useful tidbits as well.

If you want a sample, you can check out the first chapter here. I love this book. It’s my baby. It’s the parenting book I wished existed when my girls were younger. It not only teaches you what the Bible says, it gives you step-by-step help to put it into practice. My goal for this book is that those who read it will be blessed and finish it feeling encouraged and empowered that they can teach their kids about God.

So, here it is. My book. Right now it’s available in paperback, but the Kindle edition is coming soon. I hope you like it. I hope that even if you don’t read it that you are encouraged to not let fear hold you back from taking the next step that God is calling you to. But if you want to buy it and read it, click the link below.

Buy Everyday Truth now

Categories: Motherhood | Tags: , | Leave a comment