We’ve reached the end of these letters, at least for now. Your girl is twelve and she is beautiful, inside and out. Don’t lose sight of that in the months and years ahead.
I know you tire of others who tell you how bad the teenage years can be. The next few years will be filled with challenges you cannot even imagine right now. That’s one reason why it is so important that you treasure every day. Laugh with her, get to know her friends, and make memories.
But know this, when the struggles come, it’s not because you are a bad mom or because she is a bad kid. That tension between parent and child during adolescence is normal. In fact, to some extent is necessary. She needs to stretch those muscles of independence. She’ll need them as an adult.
Don’t battle the process of her growing up … it will only leave you both tired and frustrated. She is growing up and your job isn’t to stop that process or make it more difficult. Your job is to guide her in the process, to help her develop the skills and faith she will need to function in this world as a vibrant believer.
May I offer you a few simple reminders, just from my heart to yours?
- Trust her but be engaged. You need to know where she is and who she’s with but you don’t aways have to be there too. Learn the line between helicopter parenting and engaged parenting.
- Let her fail but don’t let her quit. Just like you are not a quitter, don’t let her be one either. Sometimes, she’s going to fail. She’s going to handle life’s situations badly and you have to let her. Don’t be the “fix it” mom. You won’t be doing her any favors if you never let her experience failure. Just be sure to encourage her never to give up.
- When you have to choose, be her mom not her friend. The beauty of these years is that sometimes you get to be both. But there will be times when you will have to choose between the two. Choose to be her mom!
Teri, you are doing a great job! Even when you feel like you are not. You’re not a perfect mom but you don’t have to be. In fact, you don’t even have to be a good mom … be good enough! Remember that James Dobson quote you love,
The average child can survive the average number of mistakes made by the average parent.
There is nothing wrong with being average. Some days you’ll be exceptional and then there will be the days when you really mess it up. Never lose sight of this:
God chose YOU to be her mom.
Because you are the mom she needs – mistakes and all.
She loves you. Her daddy loves you. God loves you. Rest in that and give yourself some grace.