Prayers For A Tween Girl

Parenting tween girls is about raising smart girls, mighty girls, and strong girls. The best way to do this is to find a million little ways to suggest: be you.

My girls’ birthdays are only four days (and two years) apart. For the past few years we’ve celebrated on or around their March birthdates. But this year, our family traded in our usual one-weekend-after-another separate celebrations for a last day of school, hot summer night, everyone piled into the yard and by the fire pit and into our basement kind of celebration. And it was glorious.

I watched and listened and heard an absolute gaggle of girls, some of whom I’ve known since their chubby fingers wrapped around thick crayons as they learned to write their names and thank you notes and stories–tongues sticking through pursed lips, brows furrowed, smile and eyes lit at success. And others whom I’m just getting to know, learning what that laugh or this look means. And in that watching and listening and hearing I was overwhelmed. With their noise and their movement and their talking, yes. But also by their goodness.

To the ones with the loudest laugh, the first joke, the cleverest of responses, keep using your voice and your humor. A laugh that can be picked out in a crowd is a gift.

To the athletes, the enviable ball spikers and the perfect handspring executors and the swift runners, keep at it. Strength comes in many forms and this is one of them. Own it.

To the joiners, you’re absolutely right–why not you? Confidence makes the world go round and you’ve got it. Hold on tight–it belongs to you.

To the story tellers, keep talking and telling and weaving. It’s your story, tell it. You’re the only one who can.

To the quiet ones in the back, I see you. You are understated, and you are important. These can–and do–go hand in hand.

To the whip-smart ones with all of the answers, you keep flexing those muscles. A smart woman can make the world go round.

To the caretakers, you have it just right. We are meant to take care of each other.

To the ones with the dirty feet and the abandoned shoes. Who needs shoes anyway? Don’t be afraid to get dirty, to be you, to get the most out of every moment. It’s true what your mom and I say–it does all go by so fast. Grasp the moment, the dandelion, and the grass and skip the shoes.

To the leaders, the ones who ran the show and organized the games and kept everyone moving along, that’s called leadership and it’s a coveted skill. Anyone who calls it anything different (negative) is wrong.

To the ones who led by example, followed the unwritten rules, made sure that everyone got their fair share, this, too, is leadership. It’s quiet, but powerful and just as coveted.

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In so much of life women demand different and change of ourselves and of each other. Not enoughs and shoulds and shouldn’ts slip between our lips all-too-easily and quickly. Not pretty enough, not smart enough, not popular enough. Too pretty, too smart, too popular.

But what I learned from watching a group of just-out-of-school tweens on a hot summer night, is that right here and right now they have the exact right idea. So my prayers for tween girls are to …

Trust yourselves and your instincts and your goodness.

Allow input from the world do nothing but build on what is already pretty amazing–you.

And to see how each of your shine doesn’t dim the others.

My prayer for you is to keep being exactly who you are.

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More Reads On Raising Tweens:

14 Essential Truths About Raising Tween Girls

Why I’m Not Raising A Good Girl

The Three Words That Will Save Your Relationship With Your Tween

Great Resources On Inspiring Girls:

This Grad’s Dress, Made From Her Math Homework, Is Raising Money To Fund Girls’ Education by Women You Should Know is Erinne Paisley’s story–a young grad raising money for girls’ education. Amazing.

You’re Pretty by Jennifer P. Williams is 9-year-old Cady’s story–an elementary school girl who knows that a compliment costs nothing to give, but can create a world of lift. Pretty, indeed.

Put On That Swimsuit by Jessica Turner is a call to moms to model the behavior we want for our girls and that includes wearing swimsuits, amen.

A Kindness Wins Story

 A beautiful reader-friend named Julie sent me this amazing story. It shows the power of taking care of each other and each others’ children. We can create a culture of kindness in this exact way.

Julie says,

“My 11 year old daughter (Ella) has an iPad and uses it to text with her friends. For the past couple of weeks, however, girls are only texting chain letters to each other … Last night, when she fired up the iPad, there were 12+ texts, but when she opened them up, they were from different people with the same chain letter. The same, quite scary, chain letter. She came undone. It said something to the effect that my name is Carmen and I am like you, except I am dead; my friends pushed me into a sewer, and when the authorities came my neck was broken and my face was torn off; if you don’t pass this along, I will come and get you; one boy deleted this message, and went to take a shower, and was never seen again because I took him.

Ella was shaking, and would not get in the shower unless I stayed in the bathroom with her last night.

I was sure that the moms were not aware of this. These girls were continuing to send these on out of fear, “just in case,” and we had never talked with them about what chain letters are or how they originate or why they continue to circulate. So I emailed my friends with a link to a website that talked about this urban legend/chain letter, and encouraged them, with love, to talk with their girls. Within about 20 minutes, each mom wrote me back, saying they had no idea, and their girls were frightened, too. They all thanked me for the heads up and were happy to have the information. Kids seem so much more mature than we did at 11 that I think we forget how much they still need us to guide and reassure and teach them every day.

So thank you for writing on this topic — truly your book is not only about kindness on social media but on staying aware and involved and connected with our kids, their friends, and other parents.” #kindnesswins

leslie-kendall-dye

This is absolutely an invitation to send me your Kindness Wins stories and photos to galit breen @ gmail . com You have no idea how much these make my day. This is our culture of kindness and I’m so grateful to you for making it so.

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Comments

  1. I love your spirit. Some mornings as I wake my tween I sprinkle kisses up and down her cheek, whispering in her ear that I love her and that it’s a new day. I imagine as I do this that I adding softness to the world in my small way. I hope you know that that is what you do with your words and your loving. Xo
    Thank you

  2. Oh, Galit, I love this. My daughter is 12.5 and at the graduation ceremony from 6th grade I was overcome with the liminal nature of the girls – they are on the brink of becoming who they are, so much of that already visible, but so fraught too, and I felt aware suddenly that it was a dangerous moment, but also a potent one. May their passage be safe.

  3. Love this. I understand why you addressed it to girls, but these messages are important for boys, too. Just saying. :)

  4. Love this, Galit. My daughter isn’t there yet, but when she is, I will certainly read your words again. Thank you.

  5. Kimberly Ho says:

    Thank you for this lovely post, Galit. It made me smile.

  6. Love this! I think you’ve perfectly captured what is so special about this age. Thank you.

  7. Perfectly perfect….I’m a middle school teacher, and see these girls in all their glory and insecurity and kindness and when they say things they have no idea how they will impact another, and they don’t know how to get out of it – thank you.

  8. I just love this! It captures every little girl out there, all across the spectrum of every personality type. And more importantly it shows how every girl is special and to be cherished in her own right!