Hey sweet friends. Last week a precious mama friend asked me to write something for the ladies a step behind me in mommy time about surviving the transition from little big girl to tweenager. I told her that I am absolutely no expert, but I would be happy to share some of what the Lord has taught me in this time in the hopes that it might lift others up along the way.
So, as moms we all experience a number of transition periods. First, as our babies turn into toddlers and then those toddlers turn into preschoolers and those preschoolers turn into little big girls. They all have their challenges and joys, but the change from little big girl to tween has been the most daunting for me.
I think the reason being that while in each stage before, my little girl wanted more independence, but she still needed me to help her with many things. However, once she was in 2nd-3rd grade, she was actually able to take a tighter hold on some of that independence. She was taller and faster and stronger and smarter. She wanted to do and go and make choices about clothes and shoes and shows and music that before, she let me take the lead in. And Lord help us at all the choices! There are some good…but there are many more that are just, whew! And y’all, the truth is that I grieved my “baby girl” when I realized she was becoming her own person before my eyes. It’s precious and fun and exciting…but hurts your heart at the same time.
My little lady is now getting close to turning into a full-blown teenager. There are eye rolls here and there. There are, “Moooommmm!” moments. There are slammed doors and sighs under her breath some days. But there are also sweet moments where she still wants me to tuck her in and talk at night. There are days she rushes in to tell me fun things about her day after school and actually asks what I think about things sometimes. And we are usually on the same page.
But let me be clear. I cannot take credit for the good. And I won’t take credit for all the bad either. Because she has her own heart, mind, and choices to be made with what I have taught her through the Lord’s guidance, grace and mercy. And your babies will be the same.
So, sweet mama friends, here are some of the things the Lord has taught me and continues to work with me on daily. Each one has a few verses for you and your daughter to memorize together. I hope they will encourage you as you step into this season of leading your little ladies on the path towards the tweenage/teenage years.
1. Do not allow fear to rule your heart and mind. Ok, so this has to be first. If you turn on the news you see nothing but scary stories about abductions, sex trafficking, and other horrible crimes these days. Then you read an article about the dangers of social media and phone usage. You hear your friends talking about the dangers of the chemicals in your foods and what happens to children with too little sleep or outside time. You hear a podcast about the effect on children’s brains from bullying and negative self-esteem. And the list goes on. Ok, so stop. Just stop right there.
We are not to live in fear, y’all. If we do, it comes out in our words, actions, and interactions with our girls. That fear will affect every decision and can hold you back from allowing yourself and your babies to step out in faith with the Lord. So turn off the news. Put down the articles (or FB). Stop the noise and go to the Truth. Because we have a Savior who told us we do not have to fear because He has overcome the world! He is so, so much bigger and stronger and more powerful than anything this world could throw at us. He is sovereign. He is good. And He is God.
Are we to be cautious? Of course. We need to teach our girls about the dangers of the world, but at the same time, teach them about the power and faithfulness of God.
We have to live life and allow our babies to do the same. It’s ok if they experience hurt and loss because the Lord will grow them closer to Him through those things. And here’s the kicker. They won’t be going through those things alone because YOU will be there with them. Maybe beside them, maybe behind them, and sometimes at a distance. But when there are hard things, let them know that you will be there as long as you are able, and when you can’t be, the Lord will be no matter what.
- “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid, for the Lord God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
- “For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7
- “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty…He will cover you with His feathers and under His wings you will find refuge.” Psalm 91: 1,4
- “I prayed to the Lord and He answered me. He freed me from all my fears.” Psalm 34:4
- For further reading on a mom who trusted her child completely to the Lord, read about Jochebed, Moses’ mom, in Exodus 1-2.
2. Be real, apologize when needed, and prepare your heart to give grace and ask for it in return. Oh y’all, this is a loaded one. Let’s start at the beginning. So when I say be real, I don’t mean divulge all of your past mistakes and secrets with your girls at this age. I think as they grow and mature there may be a time you want to talk about certain decisions you made when you were younger, but I am talking about your relationship with them and others in the present time.
These girls are going to test your patience and make you want to pull your hair out. So, if they see you lose your temper, say something you shouldn’t have, or make a bad decision, own up to it. Model apologizing and asking for grace in your relationship with them. Remind them that you are learning too. That this is your first time being a mom of a “tween” and you will have to figure things out together. And give them the same grace in return.
I have had to apologize on many occasions, and it usually goes something like this: “I’m so sorry I lost my temper. I said some things I shouldn’t have. I have been really tired and just got frustrated. Will you forgive me?” OR
“I know you think I don’t give you enough independence and that I’m too strict. But my job is to protect you and the thought of you getting hurt scares me. You’re my first baby, so I’m learning as I go. If you’ll be patient with me, I’ll be patient with you. We both have to give each other grace.”
- “Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.” James 1:19
- “Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” Colossians 3:13
- “Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like Him.” Colossians 3:10
- For further reading on a mom who forgave and gave grace, look at Mary in Luke 2:48-52.
3. Talk about the Lord like He’s a member of the family and share what He’s done in your life. So the most important thing in the world for me is that my children know that Jesus is real, as real as the nose on my face, and that they realize how much they need Him. I am not the most organized person in the world, and my house does not run like a tight ship. Our family “Bible Time” doesn’t get done every night and my good intentions to memorize scripture and play Bible Trivial Pursuit often fall flat. But I do talk about Jesus and to Jesus and worship through songs in front of my children most every day. They see my Bible out and open on a regular basis. They hear me pray to Jesus for them every morning before school and every night when they go to sleep. They believe Jesus is real and that He is for them and with them and protecting them because of the everyday conversation in our home.
Now, I am not super-spiritual-super mom. I just know Jesus and talk about Him. And you can do that too. When we are late to school and make it through a green light, we sing, “Thank you, Loooord!!!” When they are on my last nerve, I speak out loud, “Lord, give me strength with these people.”
One day when my son was about four we were riding down the road and I saw him swinging his arms toward the seat beside him in the rearview mirror. I asked what he was doing and he said, “Oh just punching Jesus.” I said, “Well honey, I don’t think you should be fighting with Jesus.” And he said, “What? It’s not like I can hurt him!” Ha!
When our children know Jesus is real, that we trust Him, and that they can too, it makes some of those hard tween angst moments so much calmer and peaceful. Speak His name and remind your girls they have a Savior who is real, loves them, is for them, and will never leave them.
- “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” Deuteronomy 6:4-9
- For more about a mom and grandmother who shared scripture and their faith, read about Lois and Eunice in 2 Timothy 1:5 and 3:15.
4. Pray for your girls. All the time. Before you put your feet on the floor. Before you close your eyes at night. And all during the day. For their hearts and minds to be guarded from the things of this world. For their worth to be found in the Lord and who He made them to be. For friends who will stand beside them and lift them up. For others to speak life to them and for them to do the same. For them to be leaders and do the right thing even when it’s hard. For them to shine Jesus’ light in the inevitable darkness of this world. For them to save their bodies for their husbands one day. And most of all, for them to choose Jesus and know Him in a real way. Pray, y’all.
- “Pray without ceasing….” 1 Thesselonians 5:17
- “Oh Lord, I cry out to you. I will keep on pleading day by day.” Psalm 88:13
- “My hearts has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.” And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.” Psalm 27:8
- For more on a mom who prayed, read about Hannah in 1 Samuel 1-2.
This is super long. And there is so much more I could say. But mamas, you’ve got this. Be firm but loving. Be consistent but graceful. Pick your battles and decide if “this” is really the hill you want to die on.
Rebuke fear in the name of Jesus, apologize and forgive freely, share what the Lord has done and who He is in your life, and pray, girls. These tweenage years will not be the end. You will survive. Eat chocolate. Take a mama time-out when needed. And pray some more.
There are days the road will seem very long…almost never ending. But keep choosing to take one step at a time. You and your girls are going to make it. Col.1:17