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Focus on the Family Broadcast

Loving Your Teen Daughter Well

Loving Your Teen Daughter Well

Mom and author Kari Kampakis offers insight on the world of the teen girl and ways you can step in, offer guidance, and cultivate her identity in Christ. You’ll learn how to become her coach and consultant as she moves into adulthood.
Original Air Date: April 1, 2024

Preview:

Kari Kampakis: And I do think it’s important for us to have that relationship, even more so now than our parents’ generation because there’s a lot at stake if our kids aren’t listening to us, and they’re listening to their friends and going elsewhere for advice. It’s not always, you know, backing up what we’re saying at home. But at the same time, you know, what I’d remind myself when there’s something I have to tell my child that I’m like, “She is not going to be happy about this,” I have to think that she’s got lots of friends, but she only has only mom. And if I don’t mother her, then who’s going to do it?

End of Preview

John Fuller: That’s Kari Kampakis, and she’s with us today on Focus on the Family, and, uh, thank you for joining us. Your host is Focus president and author, Jim Daly, and I’m John Fuller.

Jim Daly: You know, John, I think moms have incredible influence over their kids. I think to a degree, more than dads at-

John: Hmm.

Jim: … times. You know? Moms are just the anchors. Dads are the wildcards, um, but moms have such great influence. Any relationship takes that kind of intentionality and care, the relationship between a mother and daughter is unique. You’ve experienced that. I mean, you’ve observed Dena and your-

John: We have, uh, three, three daughters and-

Jim: Yeah.

John: … watching her influence them. Hmm.

Jim: We haven’t had that experience with two boys, obviously, so I’m gonna really learn today what it’s like to parent daughters. And we’re gonna talk about how to love your daughter well and-

John: Mm-hmm.

Jim: … I’m looking forward to the discussion. And we have a great guest joining us.

John: Yeah, Kari Kampakis will help us do this, um, and think it through. Uh, Kari and her husband, Harry, have four daughters. They live in Birmingham, Alabama, and she’s written several books, one of which we’ll talk about today. It’s called Love Her Well: 10 Ways to Find Joy and Connection with Your Teenage Daughter. And of course, we have copies of that here at the ministry. Give us a call 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY. Or stop by focusonthefamily.com/broadcast.

Jim: Kari, welcome back to Focus on the Family.

Kari: Thanks for having me back. (laughs)

Jim: It’s good to see you. And let’s just, uh, you know, give the qualifications. How old are your daughters?

Kari: My oldest daughter is 20 and then I have a high school senior who is 17, a high school sophomore who’s 16, and then a daughter who’s 12, about to be a teenager.

Jim: Okay. I’m sure moms listening, when we mentioned the title, Love Her Well, love your teenage daughter well, they’re going, “Are you serious?”

Kari: (laughs)

Jim: “Are you serious? Do you know teenage daughters?”

Kari: Right.

Jim: You do.

Kari: Right.

Jim: So in that context, I mean, uh, you’re that mom of four daughters. You’ve been in that world for a while. What kinds of things are teen girls facing today that a father of teen boys wouldn’t understand?

John: Hmm.

Kari: Right. You know, I just … I, I’m convinced that this generation of teenagers, that they have it way harder than we had it at their age.

Jim: Why?

Kari: You know, I just think the cultural experiences.

Jim: Yeah, that’s true.

Kari: They’re growing up in a culture that’s very unforgiving, I hate to say generally speaking pretty mean. Um, it’s just a post-Christian culture. And I think all the things that we want for our children and our families, like kindness, forgiveness, compassion, just unity and community, that I believe comes from having a relationship with Jesus in a society that values those same values, that, that’s not always they’re getting into when they go into the real world. They might be getting-

Jim: Yeah.

Kari: … it at home. And so for parents, we’re just parenting against that reality that what we’re instilling at home is not being reinforced out in the world.

Jim: It’s so true.

Kari: And so how do you teach your children to navigate that?

Jim: Yeah. And all the tools of meanness, if I can call them that.

Kari: Right.

Jim: Social media, you know, just general bullying that occurs at school, that did occur. I mean, I can remember that back when I was-

Kari: Right.

Jim: … a kid. If you can imagine that?

Kari: (laughs)

Jim: But, uh, you know, that was kinda normal. But today there’s just so many ways-

Kari: Yes.

Jim: … to be mean toward each other, unfortunately. You know, I’m thinking of the, the research that talks about affirmation and negatives with kids. You know, they … We often talk about a 10 to 1 ration as a parent, try to give 10 affirmations for every 1 kind of correction. But then if you count the culture in that-

John: Hmm.

Jim: … I mean, they’re probably getting-

Kari: Yeah.

Jim: … a hundred negatives a day. And hopefully you’re getting two or three affirmatives in with your child. But it comes up really short when you count social media and the world that’s seemingly right against ’em, right?

Kari: Yes. And I think mentioning social media is huge because not only what they might be hearing from the world, but what they’re telling themselves. Because, like the rest of us, they’re looking at everybody’s else’s life on social media, and they see this curated perfection. And I think it gives them this idea that their life is supposed to look like that. And it’s not measuring up. Or, you know, they’re seeing somebody their, their age that’s a superstar and they’re getting a 34 on the ACT, and they just got a 23 and the think something is wrong with them, just because of the pressures to succeed. And just the … I think the mentality in our society that our children should be these superstars at a young age and that they need to follow this one path that is right for every teenager, when really everybody has a unique path that God is calling us to, that’s-

Jim: Yeah.

Kari: … using our unique strengths and gifts, and not all those strengths may be measured in school. And s- … it might not always be obvious when they’re a teenager.

Jim: Yeah. And for parents, I want you to lean in on this question, because you identify three roles, uh, that parents play while raising children. What are the three?

Kari: The three roles are, when your children are little, you’re basically in a cop role.

Jim: Cop?

Kari: Cop, yes.

Jim: (laughs)

Kari: I mean-

Jim: Writing tickets?

Kari: Yes, that’s right.

Jim: (laughs)

Kari: Like, they, they’re wild animals. You know?

Jim: Get your finger out of the outlet.

Kari: Right. You’re just-

Jim: That kinda ticket.

John: (laughs)

Kari: It’s, it’s survival.

Jim: That’s a no-no.

Kari: Right.

Jim: Okay.

Kari: Don’t run in front of that car. You know? Just-

Jim: How long does that last?

Kari: Till-

Jim: Till about 18? (laughs)

John: (laughs)

Kari: Y- yeah, exactly. In a way. Yeah.

Jim: Y- yes.

Kari: And it depends on the child too.

Jim: Hopefully, about three to five, that’s passing to the next phase. I would think.

Kari: Yes, I would say.

Jim: Okay.

Kari: Maybe to e- even six to seven, but-

Jim: Okay. Some grace there for-

Kari: Yes.

Jim: … the, uh, slow learners.

Kari: But, um, but, you know, you’ve got that cop stage. And then we run into the, the coach stage as-

Jim: Okay.

Kari: … they’re becoming teenagers and you’re still involved, you’re still keeping a pulse on their life, but you’re, you’re coaching them through it. And then ideally, as they get older, especially as they’re about to leave home, you’re in more of that consultant stage.

Jim: Let me take you to your consulting role-

Kari: Okay.

Jim: … of the cop, coach and consultant.

Kari: Okay.

Jim: So back to a consultant experience you had with your daughter when she wanted to quit dance. This is just a good example of how to be that consultant.

John: Hmm.

Kari: Right. Right. You know, as the … our kids get older, our relationship has to grow up. And we do go from a position of power to a position of influence. And ultimately, it’s their life and they’re gonna have free will and get to make these decisions for themselves. So I think as parents, our goal is to help them make wise decisions. But sometimes, we think we know what’s best for them and we don’t really give them a say in their own life.

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Kari: And, and it’s hard because my daughter, for example, she was one of those little girls who was dancing around the house when she was two years old, like just loved to twirl, loved to dance. That’s all she did. She did it through fifth grade and so in my head, as a mom, I’m thinking, “This is her track.” You know, “This is what she’s gonna be trying out for next year when she goes to middle school. And let’s get her a coach and all this.” I had it all set up. And as a mom, it gives you a little sense of security, thinking that you know your child’s track. This is their passion. This is where they’ll find their friends and their place in middle school.

Jim: Right, their bent.

Kari: Their bent. Yes.

Jim: Yeah.

Kari: And so out of the blue, at the end of fifth grade, she decided she wanted to quit dance. And I was, “No.” I was like, “No, you can’t quit dance.” And my kids had wanted to quit things before, so I thought the feeling would pass. And so she really thought about it for several months and she was starting … As I find myself trying to like convince her to stick with it, like, “What about your friends are doing this, you know, weekend intensive in New York. I’ll take you to do that.” You know? Bribing.

Jim: (laughs) That sounds exciting.

Kari: Yeah. I mean, I was like … their studio was doing that. That couldn’t convince her. And so, as a mom, I, I really realized that I was unsettled not knowing her track.

Jim: Hmm.

Kari: And for me, I was like, “Maybe this is too much a part of my identity and my security as a mom, not listening to her.” So I really had to give her that space. Like I said, she was in fifth grade. I had to think, you know, “Maybe she’ll decide to go back if she really loves it, but if I force the issue, it’s not going to happen.” So that took some soul-searching from me.

Jim: Uh, let me ask you about the buddy parent and the danger of the buddy parent, ’cause I, I kinda lean in that direction.

Kari: Mm-hmm.

Jim: So when I was reading that, I was going, “Oh, okay-

Kari: (laughs)

Jim: … I’m a little guilty there.”

John: (laughs)

Jim: Um, you know, you want … Especially for the latter teenage years, you, you do need to move into that consultant role. So-

Kari: Right.

Jim: … you know, real successful consultants usually are good friends as well, somebody you can confide in, “This is what the business is doing. What do you think I should do?” Um, how do you not become a harmful buddy parent and still stay in a good buddy place, if that’s the way to ask this?

Kari: Right. You know, the best thing that I’ve seen on that subject, it was, um, Sissy Goff and David Thomas, they’re-

Jim: Hmm.

Kari: … counselors in Nashville, and I just … I love everything they produce and write. But they talked about parenting with rules and relationship.

Jim: Right.

Kari: And they said a lotta parents today grew up with parents that had their rules, but they did not have the relationship. So what we’re seeing is the pendulum swing, that a lot of times we see the relationship, but not the rules. And I do think it’s important for us to have that relationship, even more so now than our parents’ generation because-

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Kari: … there’s a lot at stake if our kids aren’t listening to us and they’re listening to their friends and going elsewhere for advice. It’s not always, you know, backing up what we’re saying at home. But at the same time, you know, what I’d remind myself when there’s something I have to tell my child that I’m like, “She is not going to be happy about this,” I have to think that she’s got lots of friends, but she only has only mom. And if I don’t mother her, then who’s going to do it?

Jim: Hmm.

Kari: And so the way I look … But it’s hard because-

Jim: Yeah, that’s good.

Kari: … you know when they get older, you know what’s going to set them off, you know what’s going to get some resistance. So I do think we have to be pretty selective about the battles we choose to fight. You know? And if we choose to fight every single battle, then we’re just gonna push them away. And we can make them rebel. You know, a lotta times if you have the … those rules without the relationship, it can lead to rebellion. But then if you have too much relationship without the rules, it just leaves them with this like sense of like they don’t know where the boundaries are. And they can-

Jim: Yeah.

Kari: … go off the deep end even more so than they might’ve otherwise.

Jim: No, that’s good insight. Um, you and your husband, Harry, spoke with one of your daughters about, I think, cellphone.

Kari: Mm-hmm.

Jim: And so I don’t know who was the bad parent-

Kari: (laughs)

Jim: … (laughs) and the good parent in this story, but w- what happened in that conversation from a parenting standpoint, with your battle with your daughter’s cellphone?

Kari: Yes.

Jim: Everybody’s leaning in-

John: Mm-hmm.

Jim: … on this one.

Kari: Yeah.

Jim: Isn’t this everybody’s battle?

Kari: Right. And, uh, for-

Jim: Yeah.

Kari: … our parent of our generation, we were the first parents parenting with cellphones. And there were things-

Jim: Yeah.

Kari: … I would do differently now. We just didn’t know. And so, you know, we were trying to put these r- … work backward really. Like, we gave them this freedom and then we started to put these restrictions on them. And so we were having this conversation about her cellphone one night and just things we were gonna clamp down on a little bit, and just limiting her time. And she told us, she’s like, you know, “I’ve just been feeling resentful towards y’all lately.”

Jim: (laughs) That’s good.

Kari: You know, uh, she was honest and, uh, luckily I was writing that book, Love Her Well, so I’m like, you know, trying to take into mind or keep in mind my own advice. But she’s like, “I’ve been feeling resentful because I make better choices than a lotta my friends, yet they have more … they have fewer rules than I do.”

Jim: Huh.

Kari: And I thought, you know, “That’s a good point.” And so it takes a lot of humility to hear that and not get mad as a parent, or tell her how she should be feeling, or she shouldn’t be resentful. So we said, you know, “We understand. We have to be your parents, but we’re also going to listen to you and, you know, let your voice be heard. And it might be that if we have this rule in place here, maybe there’s some other rules if you feel like we’re being too strict, maybe there’s a rule from two years ago, maybe we can update your curfew.”

Jim: Yeah.

Kari: You know, “Maybe there’s a way that we can kinda work with you in another area.”

Jim: Yeah.

Kari: And I think the main thing is just to let them know that, “I promise you, we’re on your team and we want what’s best for you. And there are some decisions that you might not understand now, that you might thank us for later. Um, and then we’re, we’re human too and we’re making mistakes, and we’re also figuring things out. So let’s have this conversation.”

Jim: Wow, that is good. I mean, that’s really good.

Kari: Mm-hmm.

John: This is Focus on the Family with Jim Daly and our guest today is Kari Kampakis, and, uh, she has written a terrific book with a lot of great generalized principles that work for both boys and girls, but this one is particularly for raising daughters. It’s called Love Her Well: 10 Ways to Find Joy and Connection with Your Teenage Daughter. And, uh, there’s so much good stuff in here. We’ll encourage you to get a copy from us here at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. Or give us a call, 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY.

Jim: Kari, one thing I’ve noticed, you know, I, I, I truly believe God has built us for relationship. It’s our operating system. It’s what-

Kari: Yes.

Jim: … he put in us, in our DNA.

Kari: Yeah.

Jim: That we need relationship. With him, hopefully, and with others. Um, how does a mom strengthen those connections with a daughter? Especially if maybe they’re not as strong as they could be. What are some practical things?

Kari: Yes. And I think the biggest thing to remember is that it’s never too late and that, you know, we all know grown men and women still waiting for a relationship with-

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Kari: … their parents, still waiting for their parents to tell them, “I love you.” And so even if you grew up with some disfunction or, you know, you can break the cycle and just know that our mistakes and our regrets … I have so many mistakes I made, but God is so gracious and, you know, he, he cares more about who we’re becoming than who we’ve been in the past, and just that grace of Jesus. But I think just really, um, praying and knowing your child.

Jim: Hmm.

Kari: You know, I have four children. And so when you have multiple children, like we all do, you’ve got to be really intentional with time. And so I really try to make the most of time. So it’s really looking for ways to build the relationship. So say if they have a doctor’s appointment, I feel like we’ve got one or two a week for something, I always put in a little more time. And so before I check them back into school, I might say, “Hey, you wanna go to Starbucks and get a coffee or a hot chocolate?” Just something small like that.

Jim: Yeah.

Kari: You know? I try to do … Um, if we’re doing something, I combine something we might be doing otherwise, like a college visit. And say, “Hey, why don’t we make fun weekend of it? And we can go with another mom and one of your friends, and we can have some good meals and also tour the school and get to do that?” But it’s just that one-on-one time. And it could be simple, like, you know, it could be your daughter’s going on a trip with some friends and so you just pack some snacks in her bag for her and her friends.

Jim: Hmm.

Kari: Just a little surprise for when they get there. Or some cute new earrings that you thought she might like. Just something creative. And, um, you know, I say too, you know, say your, your son loves Wendy’s hamburgers and, you know, that is like his love language. And he has a really stressful test at school. So when he gets back from school that day, have a Wendy’s hamburger waiting for him-

Jim: Hmm.

Kari: … at home. And I really do think-

Jim: Sounds good.

Kari: (laughs)

John: (laughs)

Jim: You’re speaking our-

Kari: Food.

Jim: … love language. (laughs)

Kari: Yeah.

John: (laughs)

Kari: I mean, foo- food can go a long way, especially if you know their favorite foods.

Jim: Yeah.

Kari: But, I heard that one time that … You know, we talk about teenagers being so emotional, and they can be really high and really high in their emotions.

Jim: Yeah.

Kari: But the good thing about that is it doesn’t take much to excite them. I mean, you could have like chips and queso, and you would think you’re taking them to Paris because you’re getting-

Jim: (laughs)

Kari: … them chips and queso. I did that one time with my daughter, they were starving after cheer practice. I’m like, “Okay, let’s go to La Paz, I’ll get you some food.” They were so happy. I’m like, “This is so easy, it’s crazy.” This, um-

Jim: But it’s thoughtful. I mean, you have-

Kari: It’s thoughtful.

Jim: … to think about.

Kari: Yes.

Jim: And, you know, in the rush of the daily grind, that sometimes is difficult.

John: Mm-hmm.

Kari: Right.

Jim: ‘Cause you got so many other to-dos, that you can let that slip and you’re thinking of your kids or your daughter-

Kari: Hmm.

Jim: … particularly. Uh, y- you describe your own teen years in your book. Um, so I’m gonna put you on the spot.

Kari: Okay. (laughs)

Jim: What were those like? (laughs)

Kari: I was very self-centered.

Jim: Really?

Kari: Yes.

Jim: As a teenager?

Kari: Yes. Imagine that.

Jim: That’s shocking.

Kari: Imagine that. Yes. And it’s funny, we were watching some old home videos recently and-

Jim: (laughs)

Kari: … saw myse- … I saw myself as a teenager and I remember being kind of salty sometimes. I mean, I was-

Jim: (laughs)

Kari: … sweet, but you know how you treat your parents sometimes. And I remember my dad’s trying to talk to me in the video and I’m just like, “Whatever.” And somebody’s trying to hug me and I’m, you know, standing-

Jim: (laughs)

Kari: … like that. And it was such a reminder to me of like, you know, they might not be reciprocating, but we’ve got to keep pursuing their heart. Keep hugging them, even if they’re not hugging us back.

Jim: Mm-hmm.

John: Hmm.

Kari: And, um, I really had to really remember how I was as a teenager when I was writing books for teenage girls-

Jim: Yeah.

Kari: … because the first draft I gave my editor, she’s like, “Write a few chapters.” I was like, “Oh, I can do this.” And she’s like, “You sound like a mom.” It’s a great start, but you sound like a mom and you’re … they’re gonna stop reading if you sound like a mom.” So, “Sound like a wise big sister, make that your voice.”

Jim: Wow.

Kari: “And remember yourself as a teenager.” And so at first I thought, “Oh, I loved being a teenager. Those were fun years.” And I … that’s how I felt at first. But once I started really digging into my past and remembering the lonely moments, and the insecurity, and just some of the dumb things that I did, it really opened up my heart not only to my daughters, but also to just all teenage girls. And just remember to look beyond the surface of what we see.

Jim: You know, I, I think it’s so true, especially if you except Christ as a, you know, 18, 19-year-old-

Kari: Hmm.

Jim: … um, and really commit your life to the Lord in that way. Or even in your 20s, wherever it might’ve happened.

Kari: Mm-hmm.

Jim: You contend to rewrite your history a little, I think-

Kari: Yes.

Jim: … to make it much better (laughs)-

Kari: Yes, imagine that. (laughs)

Jim: … than it was. I wasn’t that bad a teenager.

Kari: Right. Right.

Jim: But you do need to take a self-assessment I think as a parent. That’s very helpful.

Kari: Yes. Mm-hmm.

Jim: Uh, sometimes we can have such high expectations-

Kari: Mm-hmm.

Jim: … for our kids to start at, you know, point 10-

Kari: Right.

Jim: … when we started back at point one and learned those lessons, and two, and three, and four.

Kari: Right.

Jim: But we, as Christian parents, can really load up on our children to kinda get out of the gate at 20.

Kari: Right.

Jim: You know, uh, meaning point 20, ’cause you’ve got Christian moms and dads. I mean, come on?

Kari: Right.

Jim: You gotta be better than I was.

Kari: Exactly.

Jim: And that’s not really healthy ’cause kids have to make their own mistakes. And I guess the question in that regard, I can fold it into, is how, how do you keep loving your teen daughter in that time, when it’s not so pretty and-

John: Hmm.

Jim: … and nicely wrapped? (laughs)

Kari: Yes. Oh, that’s great. I mean, I think the biggest thing is just to always parent with a, a spirit of strength and not defeat, and a spirit of hope, and giving them hope for the future. And even they get in trouble, it’s more of like, “I’m on your team. You know, you’re gonna face some consequences here and you’re not going to like ’em, but I’m gonna journey through this with you.” And just remembering stories, like the story, the Prodigal Son, and God’s mercy. And I think just really letting our teenagers know, “You’re, you’re going to mess up, but God can restore and redeem everything.” Say they were mean or they said something they regret, like, “Okay, now you go make it right. Go correct the situation, and then God can bring good from it.” And really teaching them that, that letting them see our humanity, like, you know, “I did this one time. I’m not proud of it, but, you know, I, I faced it. I … You know, I confessed my sin to God and then he could bring good from it.”

Jim: What, what about that mom facing the obnoxious teenage girl? I mean-

Kari: Hmm.

Jim: … it’s just what it is. There may be lots-

Kari: Yeah.

Jim: … of reasons why it’s happening.

Kari: Right.

Jim: Um, uh, usually, I would suggest there’s usually something going on or some things going on that create that kind of divide.

Kari: Yes.

Jim: Um, but for that obnoxious teenage girl who … “Phh whatever.”

Kari: (laughs) Right.

Jim: You know? And boys can fit that one too. I’m, I’m just relating to your-

Kari: Right.

Jim: … content here. But for the girl side of that, how doe- … how does a mom close that gap? How does she absorb that obnoxious attitude and still love (laughs) her, her and-

Kari: Right.

Jim: … still find ways to put snacks in her back from time to time?

Kari: Yeah. You know, and I think it might be still setting those boundaries and say … But my problem, I used to mirror their reaction. If they were being “Phh”… I was mirroring it back. That does not go well.

Jim: (laughs)

Kari: It just amplifies it. They go-

Jim: But it is fun.

Kari: But it is fun. (laughs)

John: (laughs) Oh.

Kari: Uh, and it takes you back to your like childhood years.

Jim: Right. (laughs)

Kari: I’m like, “I thought I was past this,” how I acted with my siblings.

Jim: Yeah, right. Go toe to toe.

Kari: And now I’m like it’s all coming back.

Jim: Yeah.

Kari: But, I, I think-

Jim: Be the adult.

Kari: Be the adult, basically.

Jim: Yeah.

Kari: And it could be, “Okay, you can’t talk to me like that. Give me your phone.” Or, “Give me your car keys.” But doing it in a calm way.

Jim: Yeah.

Kari: And then in the same time, you can still love them and say like, “I love you, but this is not who you are and this is not who you’re going to be.”

Jim: Hmm. Mm-hmm.

Kari: And so … And, and, “I want you to go reflect on this and, you know, I just want what’s best for you. And I, I love you. I don’t know if something else is going on in your life, but I’m here if you wanna talk.” And I think just keep praying and to keep pursuing their heart, but set those rules and boundaries that they might need. They might not appreciate it now, but one day … You know, one of my favorite quotes is, um, uh … He’s a youth minister in Birmingham named Cameron Cole and he said, “We’re not parenting for our 16-year-old to like us, we’re parenting for our 40-year-old to respect us.”

Jim: Wow.

Kari: And I think about that. Like, even my friends, like, “Oh, I used to get so mad at my mom when I was 16 because of this, but now as an adult I’m so glad she made me do that.”

Jim: Yeah.

Kari: Or, “I’m so glad she put those rules or those boundaries in place.” And I think for our generation of moms, the problem is sometimes we can’t take the attitude from our teenagers because we’re relying on them for our joy. And we have really sacrificed our adult relationships in this child-centered culture of parenting, and so I’m a big believer that if you’ve got teenagers especially, you need to be building up your village as a mom, that you’ve got to be getting love from someplace. If you’re-

Jim: Hmm.

Kari: … not getting it from your child, which you are-

Jim: Yeah.

Kari: … when they’re little, but there comes a point where you’re not always getting it back. Then I’m a big proponent of like this is the time to reinvest in your marriage, if you’re married, to reinvest in your friendships.

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Kari: You know, to reinvest in your faith. To really go get love in your life, so that what you’re able to give your children isn’t overflow of what’s in your heart-

Jim: Yeah.

Kari: … rather than relying on them because that’s a scary (laughs) proposition when they are in one those ornery stages.

Jim: Well, right. And those girlfriend connections are so important, as moms.

Kari: Yes.

Jim: Those mom connections. ‘Cause like, you know, husbands have a hard time filling that gap too and-

Kari: Right.

Jim: … sometimes that expectation is quite high from the wife that somehow the husband will meet that need, and they fall short-

Kari: Right.

Jim: … because we’re not good girlfriends.

Kari: (laughs) Right.

Jim: We’re hopefully good husbands.

Kari: Right. Exactly.

Jim: But, you know, I, I’ve seen that with Jean, just her ability to connect and the joy she gets from connecting with other moms, et cetera.

Kari: Yes.

Jim: Le- let me ask you about identity in Christ because we talk a lot about that as Christians-

Kari: Mm-hmm.

Jim: … especially for our kids. When they leave the home, the one thing that they need is to know who they are in Christ.

Kari: Yes.

Jim: Um, I guess the question would be, how do we make sure that we can give our daughters that identity in Christ with a world that is crushing that. I mean, “You believe those things?”

Kari: Right.

Jim: All that, you know, again, constant drumbeat of, um, counter-Christian culture.

Kari: Yes.

Jim: So how do we do that? What’s practical? Some moms may even say, “I, I don’t even know how to start providing an identity in Christ. What does that mean?”

John: Hmm.

Kari: You know, I think so many things that we do as Christian parents, and I would … I would tell my kids these Bible verses when they were younger, like find your identity in Christ. And, honestly, I’m not sure if I knew exactly what it meant myself. But as I grew up, I started to see, you know, you got to find your identity in Christ. And sometimes they don’t understand why until something heartbreaking happens in their life.

Jim: Yeah.

Kari: So what I’ve seen is, you know, girls especially, they have a tendency to put other things on the pedestal. They have a tendency to put their friendships on the pedestal, or their boyfriend on a pedestal, or their place on a team. And so that becomes what they’re building their identity on. And so my point is, “Okay, if you’re building your identity on your beautiful dance skills, or your ability to, you know, go, you know, shoot hoops and be a great basketball player, what happens when you break a leg and you’re out of the sport and you can’t do that anymore? What’s gonna happen to your sense of self-worth and self-esteem?” And so it really is Jesus is, is the only safe place to find your identity because even your friend group, I mean … And I, I tell parents, your, your kids won’t believe you until it happens. Like, they might have to go through a lonely season of friendship, their friends drop them, or a boyfriend breaks up with them, or they break up with their boyfriend, something on that pedestal fails them. And only then will they start to see why they’ve got to put their faith in something that’s never going to change. And I think if we do that as Christians, that’s where we get our confidence and that’s where we can be strong, no matter what circumstances are going on in our life. But for our children, that they often have to learn the hard way, just like the rest of us of why finding our identity in Christ matters, because it’s just a solid rock you can count on. And even when the things in your life change, which they will, that this is one thing that will never change or be taken away from you. And I think there’s so much security in that.

Jim: Yeah. Kari, let me end with expectations because that’s so critical to the role as mom. And I think moms, again, they set these expectations-

John: Hmm.

Jim: … kids can’t reach them. And it-

Kari: Yeah.

Jim: … creates conflict. And I, I guess it’s that balance between too low of a … of an expectation. It’s good to have expectations.

Kari: Yeah.

Jim: But if they’re so high, um, kids can leave that home at 18, 19, feeling like they just never measured up. And I’m mindful of the fact that so many daughters probably leave homes where they, uh, they didn’t have that affirmation.

Kari: Mm-hmm.

Jim: You know, they always fell short or often fell short. And that begins-

Kari: Right.

Jim: … to take away from that identity in Christ. So at the end here, just speak to the mom who’s always concerned. (laughs)

Kari: (laughs)

Jim: You know? And maybe their daughter’s just never hitting it quite right. How does she retool our outcome, uh, projection or her expectation in what her daughter can do?

Kari: Right. I mean, for me it always goes back to prayer and just trusting God’s vision for your family. To me, I think that we live in an age where, you know, the Bible tells us that without a vision the people will perish. So it’s good to have a vision for our lives. But I believe we need to go to God first to, “God, help me see this vision, what you want to do through my children.” But so often we’re going to social media or we’re going to other families and we’re saying, “Well, this is what this family looks like. Our family should look like that too.” And so it’s these expectations we have in our head or it’s the expectation of how this holiday should look. And when it doesn’t end up picture perfect, or this family vacation, we miss the joy in that because-

Jim: Hmm.

Kari: … we’re so mad and upset that things didn’t go according to plan. Instead of seeing, you know, the humor and the joy in the situation, and just knowing that things are gonna go wrong, but life is not always going to live up to our expectations. But if we trust God and we trust what he’s creating through our children and our family … Uh, you know, my dad always told me this, and I tell my children, I’m like, “You just do your best and you leave the results to God.” And there’s so much freedom in that. And I think that, you know, I’m trusting him. I’m trusting him, the, the plan that he has for your life. And I’m going to thank him in advance for that. And so I don’t try to have like these … I try … I expect them to do their best and I expect them to live up to their, their full potential, but I also leave room for failure and I leave room for God to work in their life and to surprise us in good ways. And the best way that I heard this put, I think a lot of moms … A friend told me this, she’s like, “I see a lot of moms live in a state of preservation, they just want to preserve what’s there. They see the friend group changing and they wanna preserve it, so they’re buying tickets to concerts and taking vacations. And they just wanna force it to stay together.” But we’re saying, you know, sometimes things aren’t meant to stay together. Sometime changes just happen. And on that other side, if you’re trusting God, it’s like that freedom of living in Christ and seeing like, “Okay, this friend group didn’t work out, but look what, it opened the door-

Jim: Hmm.

Kari: … to this new opportunity or this new friend group.” But you really … And as moms, we have to really trust that God is working still, even when it doesn’t feel like it.

Jim: Yeah.

Kari: And that it doesn’t look like our vision for their life, but it’s even better if we can trust him.

Jim: Well, this has been a great start to a discussion and I hope, uh, people have felt what you’ve tried to pour into this book, great book, Love Her Well.

Kari: Thank you.

Jim: And, uh, you know, to the listener, we’ve just-

Kari: Hmm.

Jim: … scratched the surface here, like we often do, John.

John: Mm-hmm.

Jim: It’s just the beginning. And if this has really, like I said, touched your heart, let’s get a copy of the book in your hands. And we do appreciate your support. And if you can send a gift to Focus on the Family of any amount, if you can do it monthly it’s great, it helps us with budgeting, we’ll send you a copy of Kari’s book as our way of saying thank you for being part of the ministry. It’s that simple. And if you can’t do it monthly, a one-time gift is fine. We’ll just get it into your hands. And, again, as I’ve mentioned, we’ve had … we’ve got so many resources here at Focus. I’m thinking of Brio magazine for-

John: Absolutely … yes.

Jim: … teen girls. Um, it’s just a great, uh, group of young ladies who get that. And we hear from so many of ’em-

John: Mm-hmm.

Jim: … how they love the articles, et cetera. The point is, Focus is a research center for you. Get in touch with us and hopefully do ministry with us, and get a great resource with this book.

John: Yeah. Contact us to find out about, uh, the treasure trove of resources and help we have here at Focus on the Family for you. Our number is 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY. And as Jim said, donate today as you can, uh, be generous to Focus, either a monthly pledge or a one-time gift, and we’ll say thanks by sending a copy of Kari’s book to you, Love Her Well: 10 Ways to Find Joy and Connection with Your Teenage Daughter. Join the support team when you call that 800 number, or when you stop by focusonthefamily.com/broadcast.

Jim: Kari, again, thanks for being with us. This was really good.

Kari: Thanks for having me.

John: Hmm. And thanks for listening today. Plan to join us tomorrow as Lee Strobel explores the question, is God real?

Preview:

Lee Strobel: If God is not real, we don’t have free will. We have no afterlife, no hope for anything beyond this world. Uh, there’s all these implications that flow out of that.

End of Preview

Today's Guests

Love Her Well: 10 Ways to Find Joy and Connection with Your Teenage Daughter

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