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« Off to a Great Start (Toben) | Main | Change of Perspective (Toben) »


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Wife of Rob

Toben you can never tell her enough how beautiful she is and how proud you are of her. She will never be able to get enough of those two things. They have the potential to make her soar. 14 year old girls are struggling by the minute with their self esteem, which is very easily crushed. Make her confident! You can do this!
~~Jen Bartlett


Ask if she will keep a journal with you. Just you two, no sharing. Write your observations and conversations back and forth. Be very affirming. Tell her the gifts you see in her, her potential, your observations of character. Use a general question format where she can ask anything too. Put the journal in some agreed on spot. She can read and write in her own time and let you know if there is something for you to read. Teenagers! Try every key! They change the locks constantly but they want you to know them.
(From a former 14 yr. old girl)


First thing that popped into my head was, I wish my dad had told me he thought I was pretty. And that he hugged me more-and he hugged/touched me a lot, but I wanted more.

As a mom of boys, I desperately pray for girls who are loved immensely by their dads, and know it, to find their way to my sons in future years.


Giving her all the time she needs with you. (Quantity) Truly listening to what she is saying. (Quality) Reassuring her that everything will work out fine. Keep pointing her to the Lord.


I have a 21 year old girl and a 17 year old boy. My girl is going to be a college senior and then go on to achieve her Masters in Sports Mgmt with a goal to coach a college level volleyball team. I am soooooo proud of her. At 14 there were many days I didn't think I would get to this point. I spent a lot of years telling her how proud I was of her, what my hopes and dreams were for her (and talking to her about her hopes and dreams), encouraging positive friendships and nurturing those friendships through driving endless miles, paying for movies, lunches out, etc., I tried to be really proactive about her appearance (skin care, hair care) even though some of those choices were different than mine would have been, I tried to remember that the days we were living through were actually a short time and would pass quickly, and most importantly I PRAYED FOR HER EVERY SINGLE DAY AND SOMETIMES EVERY SINGLE HOUR!!!! And she knew that!


I agree with all that has been shared so far!! A father's unconditional love for his daughter cannot be overstated. Not only are you pouring into her a sense of being valued, you are modeling in real life how her Father in Heaven loves her.

I would also add reminding her that school isn't her whole world. I remember being so caught up in what everyone wore and how they thought of me that I lost who I was and what I liked. My world was way too small. So things that broaden her view of the world and the people in it, like volunteering at a place where she is doing real and valuable work, like an animal shelter, Red Cross Youth, or see a need in your community and start her own project. We call our local Rescue Mission to find out what is needed most at the moment and put out the word for donations and then take it all over. I remember once it was towels. We were overwhelmed with people's kindness and boy did our daughter feel proud bringing in that donation!! It's all about her knowing that she is valuable not only to you but to others.

Sorry, this is already long, but one more thing. I use this word, reflecting, to describe how others view us. Our young daughters need positive reflections because they certainly don't get realistic ones in school, no matter where they land on the popularity scale. When our now 19yo daughter got her first job a year and a half ago I saw a neat thing happen. She found herself in a place where her hard work was respected by co-workers and her bosses. They reflected back to her on a regular basis that she was a valuable part of the team. We saw in her a new maturity and confidence that built upon the relfections she had received from the volunteer opportunities.

What a blessing she has a Dad that will ask these things!!! :)

Child of God

Hi Toben,
For answering question 1 I go for a run, that always slows me down. :)
For question 2 treat your girls really special, take them out on dates buy them flowers spend quality time just listening to them talk. My husband followed the example in the 'Courageous' movie and took my daughter out on a very special date to a fancy restaurant and presented her with a small diamond promise ring. He then proceeded to tell her that he promises to protect her, watch over her until God showed her who she was to marry and if she never married he promised to always take care of her and stand up for her. It was very special and powerful and made a very strong bond between her and her dad. Girls need to feel loved and protected even when they are snappy and very much like a cornered cat. ;P


Anne R.

I agree with all the above, and add to be protective of her, even if you embarrass her, she will thank you later! I wish my parents had been more strict with me (what time I came home, intimidating my dates, etc) when I was in high school. Also, I was the oldest of my siblings, and I always wanted an older girl to hang around since I didn't have a big sister! I looked up so much to older girls and thought they were so cool. Now I try to put myself in a place to mentor/ hang out with younger high school girls. Are there any older girls in Audrey's life? See if you can introduce her to some (obviously ones that you want her to be like or that she can look up to)! Being the oldest in the family is tough! See if there are older girls though hitch, or a school big sis/ little sis program, etc. maybe she could attend a Christian camp that has older high school or younger college counselors or something.

Anne R.

Hitch - I meant to say *church. Also, the reason I said be protective is because it lets her know you really care and really love her.


And to add to all others..........tell her you love watching her---------whatever she is doing. I know you'll do it well Toben.


everything here is well said. I'd add remind her that middle & high school are not the end. Very seldom are the relationships from middle & high school those that last a lifetime. Insecurity often results in girls, more so than boys, being competitive, catty & downright mean. If they live long enough, they usually outgrow some of this.

Judy@Just Enough Light

I agree with the journal thing. I did that with my daughter about that age and we "talked" about some interesting things through it.


i have no advice to offer as I only have boys, and am finding my way with my second one who is 14 too! I think what you have been doing is just FANTASTIC. and from what I see in helping out in youth group in church, teenage girls need unconditional acceptance, and do eventually grow out of those difficult, uncomfortable years.


If she is struggling academically, get her some help. When I was Audrey's age, I failed algebra. In a family of educators, this was only slightly less serious than being a serial killer. I had tried as hard as I could, but algebra simply made no sense. I was too afraid of the teacher to ask for help and the school did not offer tutoring sessions. Instead of trying to find out why I was failing, my parents assumed it was due to laziness and I was punished.


Wow, you all must have had very easy-going kids! I have three almost-grown daughters, and the last one was a doozy to handle in her teen years. She pushed constantly but I held my ground in most cases because she needed to feel the boundaries. My husband, on the other hand, hated the back and forth, (to put it nicely,) and kept asking why I just had to engage her--he wanted peace. It's hard to be mean to your kids, but when they push past respect and responsibility, it's time to push back. My number three, at 21, has calmed waaaaaay down and is a delight most of the time. I strongly believe her way of dealing with the fears of growing up was to lash out often at the one she was most comfortable with--me. It's amazing how low I could feel after one of our battles, but through it all I knew I/we were doing the right thing. My friend had to remind me from time to time to keep things in perspective: she wasn't lying, stealing, drinking/drugging or heavy into boys. Daddy sometimes played the part of her safety and that was probably a good thing. I don't imagine this helps you at all, Tobin, as your girls sound very easy-going for the most part. I guess I'm just saying, try not to let Audry walk all over you in your effort to parent her well. It sounds to me like you are already a fantastic dad and I hope you're not doubting yourself. Please don't think everyone else has easy, perfect kids, 'cause it ain't so. My daughter was almost always very polite in front of others. I think the thing that gave her the biggest boost in confidence was getting her first job--that really turned the corner for her and for us! Hang in there! It will get better.


Be alert. This is the age that I have often read when children take one path or another...which can lead to life-long heartache if the path they choose is not a good one. That's my advice. Wish I had been wiser with our own child at that age. I would say 14-16 is a very critical age.


We have a 24 year old daughter and a 14 year old daughter with a son in between. The oldest could be quite challenging during the teen years, but has come back from the dark side now, and is a delight, praise God. Our fourteen year old has been great so far. The best advice I received was to "treat them like they were already the people that I wanted them to be." Easier said than done, especially if they aren't pleasant to be around, but a great thing to remember. PRAY PRAY PRAY, ask God to put godly influences in her life,mentors and friends. God bless you and yours.

Jenna Hoff

14 was one of the toughest and roughest years of my life. It is often an extremely challenging age for girls. They go through massive changes in a short time, there are huge peer pressures and school and parental expectations and while they often seem near grown up, they still are children and have yet to fully develop their adult problem solving and reasoning skills.

I would have done anything to have a dad who was really involved in my life at that age, to truly know he loved me and I mattered. If my dad would have spent time with me doing special father daughter things I think I would have had a lot more support going through that turbulent season and I would have come through the challenges better. However I was blessed with a Heavenly Father who never lets me down and is always there.

I think Audrey and Emma are both extremely blessed to have such an involved and caring daddy in their lives. My advice is to continue to be involved in their lives at a deep level, stay as connected as possible and above all let them know they are so special to you.

I am now a mom to a 13 year old who I adopted 3 years ago. She did not experience safety and security her first decade and now we are often in full blown teen battle mode, without the bond most families have with kids they have raised since birth. One thing God has shown me is that she is a precious gift and her behavior, anger or defiance and acting out doesn't change that. As her mother, God has called me to love her unconditionally and this love is to be present even when she is screaming at me or whatever. And in turn through the process of loving our daughter even despite the challenges, it is amazing how God is teaching me about his unconditional love for me.

Christie Ulrich

I have three daughters (18,16 and 14) and I think the hardest stage is between ages 12 to 14. It seems like once they hit 15 things are better. It was a good thing too because with mine I'd get one out that stage in time for the next one to begin! I think your doing a wonderful job from what I read. You want to guide them but not be so over bearing they can't come to you. You really have to pick your battles with girls. They have the need to express and I think we need to let them as long as it's not revealing or dangerous. I may not like everything they choose to wear or how they do their hair but if it's just a matter of opinion, I've found I need to back off and let them decide. That way in ten years when they look back at pictures they can only blame themselves! lol
I have a great dad and I can tell you there is something really special about a dad and their girls. Keep following your heart with them. You can't go wrong!
As far as crazy days.... I wish I knew! My list is never ending too!!!


My husband and I have a 30+ daughter who has lived on the dark side of life for more than half of her life. If we had the opportunity for "do overs" we would for sure pick our battles more thoughtfully and prayerfully. She was our first child of 4 and we thought everything/every issue should be handled with all of our attention and resources. The result was a young girl who felt she was micro managed and not free to grow up. Much of what we worried about and fought about would have taken care of itself without our intervention. Toben, when you question the next step or next decision, pray first then ask yourself if it really matters. In light of all you and Joanne have been through, both your daughters are light years ahead of most children in their maturity, compassion, and inner strength. I am sure they both will continue to challenge you at times, but isn't that the true picture of all of us....challenging our Father as we continue to grow? Be at peace, Toben. You are doing a most excellent job.

Kristi Walker

I have four kids, Toben, and two of them are precious girls. One will be 13 this September and I can't tell you enough how this post called to me. As a woman, I can tell you what I needed to know from my Daddy when I was going through those years was that he LOVED ME. That he loved me no matter what. That his love was not conditional and that he was there for me...ALWAYS.

Something that I've learned as I've grown into my 42 years is that I needed my parents to verbally say they loved me even if they didn't get what they expected from me. I think teenagers need to KNOW that our love is not dependent upon them living up to some arbitrary expectation that we have of them and that we continually tell them, show them, touch them, etc...that they are accepted and it's OK to feel however they are feeling. I think they need to not only learn obedience and rules from us, although those are important, but also love, grace and mercy.

Many Blessings, Kristi


I loved hiking with my Dad.


I have a 15-year-old daughter who just finished her freshman year of high school. One thing I have noticed this past year is how many of her friends seem to be at odds with their parents. My advice would be to make sure that your girls always know you are on their side, and that you will approach whatever struggles they may face as a team. It sounds like you already do this, and it also seems fairly obvious to me. But my daughter's good friend came to school many days last year in tears because she and her mom were at odds over grades, activities--even the way the daughter handled stress. This is a good mom who is devoted to her daughter, but when a problem came up, it often seemed that they became adversarial as to who was at fault, etc. Neither one was. Sadly, this girl has been effectively emotionally and physically abandoned by her dad; he is around just enough to remind her how little he values her. I think that explains why she is so hyper-sensitive to anything that seems like rejection. Make sure that your girls know that you will always love them, that you are always on their side, and that you will face all challenges together.

Kim Feth

Let her know you love her, let her know you're always "in her corner". Journal separately, but you can also journal together. My DH and The Boy have done this with success. Tell her she's beautiful. Write her a letter and put it in the mail to your home address. Intimidate her dates. Set and keep limits.
Grace and Peace,
Kim Feth
Apex, NC


Everything I have read is so good. I would just add that being a good example yourself in how you handle life and stress is important. It's important for her to see your love of God, family and self. Show her how you set limits with others,etc. I think a lot of our behaviors, good and bad, come from seeing our parents live their life.

Mo Stroke

More blue mac and cheese.


Some one else mentioned this already. My daughter and I shared a notebook with each other. She would write what she wanted to and leave it near my bed when I wasn't there. I'd take time to read and pray over whatever she had written and write her back, leaving it on or near her bed. She didn't feel threatened and we had great communication this way. Sometimes she had complimentary things she wanted to tell me and others, she vented. She knew whatever she wrote was safe with me and would go no farther. it strengthened our relationship.

On top of that, tell her how beautiful she is and always give her hugs. Ask her what she really wants to do and then listen. It may change, but she should know she can do whatever she puts her mind to.


I am the 53 year old mother of three boys. I had a very loving father, who even though it wasn't the norm for his generation, would say "I Love You" frequently and sincerely. (Thank you Jesus!) I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was loved by both of my parents unconditionally, even though I was sometimes a sarcastic, mouthy teenager. This love has helped me through a divorce after 22 years of marriage and the loss of both of my parents. My youngest son is 23 and has a 1 yr. old daughter! I finally get a girl!! I'm copying all of these wonderful suggestions and giving them to my sons for future use!!

A mom of three

I have been a silent follower for quite some time and have always enjoyed catching up on the goings on of JoAnn and her family.

My thoughts regarding your question...All of the above answers are very good "things" to do but I have yet read anywhere where you asked your wife? She is however their mother and once was a young teenage girl herself. I am not criticizing you in any way I just wondered and would like to hear what JoAnn has to say about her girls from a mothers perspective. I enjoy hearing about y'alls daily life but have found myself more and more missing hearing about your wife. How is she doing? What did she paint when she went to the watercolor class? Do you have the means to upload a photo of what she painted? Pictures of her and your family as the girls are older and changing so quickly?
Do you ever think she will be back to blogging again?

I truly do appreciate you keeping us updated and pray that you find the perfect way to connect with your girls.
A mom of three


By the time I was 14 I was pretty disconnected from my parents; they spent much of their time traveling and left me at home with a wonderful older brother. My two older siblings attended University in another city.

I never wanted for anything, any*thing*. I had the "stuff" of a princess. I wanted for time and respect. By that time, love would have felt uncomfortable.

What would have worked may have been going to a movie, then discussing it over cheesecake afterwards. Maybe having my ideas heard and encouraged more than true "discussion." Thought provoking movies interested me, so that would have been easy. Traditional live theatre is a huge fuel for discussion too, but there becomes a thin line between insightful and depressing and it won't appeal to everyone.

Bottom line: Encourage thought and listen. Ask questions, don't judge, don't feel you have to correct everything you don't agree with, don't feel you have to be smarter. Respect her ideas, they'll be amazing!

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