3 Secrets On How To Parent A Junior-Higher

3 Secrets On How To Parent A Junior-Higher

New parent of a junior-higher, come sit with me on my porch, . I have 3 things I need to tell you before you send that pubescent creature, whom you recall was a squishy toddler just yesterday, out your front door to their first day of junior high. There are 3 things I learned this past school year you might find helpful or horrible or both.

1. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

Here’s the good news, if you can force yourself to remember your own junior-high experiences and use those memories as a foundation from which you function and respond with your now junior-higher, you will be WAY ahead of the game. I didn’t have a horrific junior-high experience, but there is not enough money on this planet to send me back there. This mind-set was my life-vest as I re-entered junior-high in the 21st century, as a MOM.

It is the BEST of times, it is the WORST of times. Your junior-higher will most likely pendulum between these two realities. It can and will change daily, hourly, or on a moments notice with no explanation and no warning. Do you remember your emotional state in junior-high? I DO! I clearly remember feeling out of control a lot and having absolutely NO IDEA why. I mean, I felt this way last week too, but whatever… the pendulum is WAY more stable now that I’m 34.  😉

The cruel and GREAT things about junior-high still exist today. Remember that. These junior-highers may appear to still be small, but they are tiny adults carrying and processing complicated concepts and dilemmas. I was stunned at the different minefields we danced through this year alone. I don’t believe Mark and I are naive or have tried to shelter our children from real life. We are very passionate about introducing topics to our kids at a very young age so WE can be the ones to pen those narratives. Katie was 6, when she first asked us what abortion meant. We told her. We have always believed if you are old enough to ask it, then you are old enough to receive an age appropriate answer. Even still, I spent MANY days grieving the reality of this major transition and all the implications. Y’all, our junior-highers are dealing with REAL stuff. HARD stuff. PAINFUL stuff. Things like cutting, eating disorders, boyfriends, girlfriends, homosexuality, healthy friendships, toxic friendships, drugs, rape, suicide, body shaming, sexual abuse, social media, porn, sex, sexting, cyber-bullying, bullying, blow jobs, masturbation, molestation, and depression. (I need a glass of wine just typing all of those words!) Not to mention, the on-going battle of regular, palpable insecurities everyone is trying to sort out in junior-high.

Parents, please do not run away from these dances in the minefields with your junior-higher. Will it be uncomfortable? Absolutely. Will you squirm on the inside and feel a slight nausea overcome your soul as you explain different terms, positions and procedures? Yeah, you sure will! But oh my goodness, the pay-off is brilliant.

2. Show.Up.

Literally, show up. Be present in your junior-highers life. I think we are tempted to believe because our junior-highers physically need us less, we can detach or go on auto-pilot.  FIGHT THIS LIE. Keep showing up. This last year, I felt like Katie needed our presence in her life MORE THAN EVER before. Notice, I didn’t say she needed our advice or bossiness or nagging or meddling…She needed our PRESENCE. Our consistent, still presence.

3. Listen more than you speak.

Oh.my.stars…. this was so hard for me this last year. And sometimes I completely BLEW IT and verbally vomited all over Katie without pausing to pause. Many times I REACTED when I should have RESPONDED. There is a MAJOR difference. But in the tender moments, when I listened to the inner-monologue in my head screaming at me to shut up, I was overwhelmed at the glimpses my sweet girl gave me into her life, into her thoughts, into her heart. The more I was willing to lead with listening, the more vulnerable and soft my conversations with Katie became. A gift.

You guys, Mark and I spent a lot of last year looking at each other with big eyes that spoke, “what in the heck are we doing?!”

But the prize?? Oh the prize.

Friends, we have this girl who lives with us, who became apart of our world on December 7th, 2002 when that test glowed positive… and she is the most amazing creature who deserves ALL OF US! Every inch and fiber of life we can muster up. All of the uncomfortable, awkward and painful become null and void as she blossoms into this incredible woman who is far kinder, wiser and brighter than we could have EVER imagined.

Nothing about junior-high has been easy, but is has been beautiful, raw and unendingly rewarding.

Parents, you WILL survive this next year. There will be days you won’t think you will, but you will. Some days will be messy and rotten. Mamas, you might cry as often as your junior-high daughter. Dads, you might need some serious therapy. But you will make it. One day, one triage at a time!

 

Here’s to junior-high!

~Sara

 

Dear Friend Struggling As A New Mama

Dear Friend Struggling As A New Mama

*This post is apart of our “Dear Friend” series. These letters have all been written by women who want you to know that you are not alone in your struggle*

 

Dear Friend Struggling As A New Mama,

You are not alone.

I know you. I know the struggle of loving this baby so much, but wanting more than two hours without having her demand your presence. I know the insanity that comes at 2am when you have to feed again and you feel like you just fell asleep. I know the resentment that comes when you are feeding that sweet love of yours, and your husband lies undisturbed in his peaceful dreams. I know the loneliness that comes during the day while your husband is at work, and at night as he easily falls asleep. But your job is never done. I know you so well these days because I’m feeling these same things.

You are not alone.

You are like every other new mom, exhausted in every way possible. But there is hope. He or she will sleep one day for just a little longer, and sweet friends will show up just when you need them to sit with the baby while you shower.

Our God made Mama’s just for this. We survive, my friend. And we thrive as we do it. Keep going. One moment at a time. That sweet baby smile will come eventually. She will recognize your face soon, and the misery fades so quickly.

You are loved and you were picked out especially for this child.

Dear Friend Struggling As A New Mama, you are not alone!

Dear Daughters, Don’t Dress Modestly For Men

Dear Daughters, Don’t Dress Modestly For Men

Our first girl baby? “Oh gravy!” I thought. I hated pink, anything shaped as a heart, glitter, bling and princesses. How in the world was I going to raise a girl? I soothed my fears, “Maybe, she’ll be a tom-boy!” 12 years later; here’s my tom-boy…

body image. parenting, eating disorders
Our second girl baby? Ok, ok, more pink than I could possibly imagine was floating through our washing machine. And a countless number of Mark’s white undershirts turned pink along the way. Maybe, just maybe, this one was going to win the “raging bull” award. Here’s my raging bull (notice the all pink 😉

Our third girl baby?  God works in mysterious ways. Maybe this third girl would be the least girly-girl in our possession….. 

UH……..

We should have just painted the entire house pink. It was a done deal. 
In June of 2007, we had 3 girls, 3 and under. My innards began to cringe. These 3 babies were going to grow out of being babies, and I was the one that was going to teach them the dance of womanhood. They were going to take their cues from me. Bless it.
  
Before Katie could speak, I determined in my heart that clothes were not going to be the battle I bellowed from my motherhood mountain top. My mom and I went ROUNDS regarding clothing. As an adult, I can easily unpack my mom’s fierce determination when it came to clothing. In hindsight, I understand why it was so important to her. This knowledge enabled me to make solid decisions on behalf of my girls and their growing wardrobes. 
We have basically one rule when it comes to clothing; it cannot be “unappropriate”. Lucy coined the term, “unappropriate” when she was little watching some scantily clad NFL cheerleader on TV. The term just stuck.
In August, I wrote an article for Shattered Magazine called, Dear Anna Duggar, Josh’s Ashly Madison Affair Is Not Your Fault. My motivation behind that article is my same motivation behind today’s article; FREEDOM!

We are sending SUCH confusing signals to our precious young woman, and I cannot help but want to intervene. I am a woman, and I am in the process of raising 3 more women.

On one side of the coin our young woman are bombarded in youth chapels, purity ring talks and youth group sermons with the message, “Girls, you need to dress modestly so that you do not stumble your brothers in Christ.”

And seriously, within 1.2 seconds of saying “I do” at the altar, women are hearing in the adult services, Sunday Schools and from the pulpit, “women if your husband has sexual struggles, it’s your fault for being such a prude!”

SO.MUCH.CONFUSION.

Men, lean in close, penning a woman’s sexual story is not some chapter book that first gets opened the night of your honeymoon. There are many, many chapters before you even entered the scene, sir.

It is paralyzingly complicated to tell a girl her whole life not to have sex before marriage, dress more discreetly… even more discreetly than THAT. And then VOILA, when the fairy god-mother shakes her wicked wand, women are to become tigrous in the bedroom so our husbands don’t stray.

Both turns of the coin lay the entire blame of men’s struggle on the shoulders of women. Both before AND after marriage.

Men, can you possibly see how painful it is to carry this monologue our whole lives?
How YOUR sexual struggle is routinely laid at OUR doorstep?

In the words of my favorite Jen Hatmaker, this is  “horsecrappery!”

Now, please do not hear what I am NOT saying.

Do I think it is important for a woman to be a part of a healthy, sexual relationship with her husband? Yes! Yes! Yes! But for the reasons I outlined in my article with Shattered.

Do I think it is important for women to dress modestly? Yes, but not because of all the reasons you’ve been told your whole life.

When the men in your life are being honest with you about their struggle, they will tell you that a mannequin fully clothed can be added to the visual rolodex of their “struggle”. Welcome to reality.

That is why as women, we have to be motivated to dress modestly by something completely independent of men and their struggle.

Can I propose something completely revolutionary here?

How about we encourage our girls to dress modestly FOR THEMSELVES??
I know, your brain just BLEW UP!

Imagine this. From the time our girls entered this world, their bodies were treated and respected as holy ground. Divine, unique and exquisite pieces of art. What if we so taught them to be in love with their own skin and their own shape, that they literally OWNED IT! They so adored the masterpiece God made with their bodies, the only logical option left in their mind was to protect it and guard it to the death.

What if we never ONCE described or identified our young women by their body shapes: skinny, fat, over weight, ugly, beautiful, big-boned, tiny, large, pear, hour glass, having gained weight, having lost weight, small chested, big chested, no chested, and the putrid list goes on and on.

What if from BIRTH we described them and identified them by naming their GIFTS?!

“This is Katie, she is the kindest soul you’ll ever meet!”
“This is Julia, she is the most creative soul you’ll ever meet!”
“This is Lucy, she is the most life-giving soul you’ll ever meet!”

What if we could re-write the internal narrative of insecurity with a narrative of overflowing pride and confidence in whom our God designed our daughters to be?

Can you imagine the implications?

Long before our daughter’s bodies are stumbling blocks to the pimpled-nosed, pubescent boy; we MUST FIRST reach deeper into THEIR stories and paint on THEIR canvases with pride, confidence, stability, tenderness towards themselves, knowledge and education of their bodies, GRACE so much grace for the changing seasons she’ll forever be walking through.

The National Eating Disorders Association  records that by elementary age (6-12) girls are already expressing dissatisfaction in their weight and body figure.  A concern that will lead them to the join the 20 million women in the US that have an eating disorder or anxiety disorder.

Most women I know hate their bodies, or at least something about their bodies.
Truth? There are things I hate about my own body.

*tears roll*

Isn’t it time we do better for the next generation? Our daughters, our future daughter in-laws, our nieces, our students, our neighbors, our granddaughters and most importantly OURSELVES?!!!

Maybe, just maybe could we stand up and fight against the objectification of women every.where.we. look? In our churches, communities, schools, tv shows, news casts, sporting events, newspapers, movies, and magazines.

Sweet Val would walk into any grocery store or gas station and systemically begin to flip magazines over, “Nobody needs these images in their head,” she would smile and say. I used to think she was talking about boys and men not needing those images. Today, I realize she meant herself, my sister and me.

Gosh, she was SO right!

I’m so over it.
I’m so done with the glamorization of the Honey Boo-Boo’s in our world.
I want to fight with everything in me to NOT pass down this generational sin of insecurity and self-hatred to my daughters.

I want something so much sweeter, so much kinder, so much more bearable for them to carry.

I want to give them the gift of life. The gift of REALLY loving their bodies.

Today, I’m writing a new story for myself.
Today, I’m writing a new story for my girls.
Today, you should begin a new story for yourself.
Today, you should begin a new story for all the young girls and women in your life.

Today, let’s begin anew!
~Sara