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January 13, 2015

13 Things I Wish for My Daughter as She Turns 13

ScreamFree_Nov_2014_0048It’s January 13th, and today my daughter turns 13. She’s my only daughter and my youngest child. She’s also an incredible young woman. What an honor to raise her, and her brothers, and to see who they are becoming. Certainly, a fun perk of being a parent is the opportunity to watch a life unfold, to see them come to know themselves little by little.

So, Hannah, here are some thoughts I want to share with you as you enter a new phase of life.

  1. The teen years often get a bad rap. There are negative stereotypes of teenagers as well as the relationship that they have with their parents. Let’s be different! Just because many other moms and daughters struggle doesn’t mean that we have to. I love you dearly, and I want our relationship to be genuine and loving.
  2. Find your passion and pursue it. God has created you with purpose, and — as cheesy as it sounds — you’re the only YOU that will ever be. Ask God to show you how he wants you to live, and live it well.
  3. And speaking of purpose, your purpose is not something that you’ll discover once you’re grown. You have purpose NOW. Your life has meaning NOW.
  4. Live fully in the moment. I’ve spent too much of my life anticipating the next phase. Life will be great when I get into high school, when I get into college, when I have a real job, when I get married, when I have kids…. Life can be great NOW. Enjoy the now.
  5. Ain’t nobody got time for that! Don’t waste your time on pettiness. Sadly, there are people who get caught up in silly arguments, worries, and discussions. Avoid these people. In fact, you said it best in a conversation we had about a year ago. I’d asked you if you’d encountered any mean girls in middle school. Your response: I don’t have time for that.
  6. Always seek the good. In any circumstance, find the silver lining. Look for the positive. It’s so easy to get on a negative bandwagon and become a complainer. Be different.
  7. Learn to be content with less. Just remember this: more stuff = more problems. You have to store it, repair it, clean it, worry about it, insure it, and protect it. So, the less stuff you have, the less mental space it occupies.
  8. You’ll probably begin dating in the next few years, and oh how I would love to save you from the same mistakes and heartaches that I experienced! But I know that you will have your own unique path that may be lined with errors and pain. Let me give you this piece of advice, though: Know who you are. Know your worth independent of any boy you’ll ever date. Know that you don’t need anyone to complete you. You are a whole, beautiful person.
  9. Don’t be afraid to be different. Many times, the teen years are about trying to fit in with the crowd. I hope that you’ll have enough of an edge to yourself, enough rebellion in you to want to be different.
  10. Be open to hearing the stories of older folks — the ones who’ve been teens before. Yes, it’s been a while for most of us, but maybe we can offer some funny stories that will not only entertain but teach.
  11. Don’t be afraid to fail. Some of the greatest people failed miserably at first. Abraham Lincoln “failed” in his first eight elections. Thomas Edison “failed” 1,000 times before inventing the light bulb.
  12. Spend time with people who don’t share the same values and interests so that you can be a blessing to them and learn from them.
  13. Read your Bible. It’s not just a collection of old books. It’s God’s Word and will have a greater impact on your life than any other book.

Happy birthday, Hannah!

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