Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Book Review: Love Her Well

If you aren't interested in a book review with a personal tie-in, this is not your post. If you are a mom of a daughter and you feel like you're riding the struggle bus (or driving it) with parenting her, this is a really interesting book to look at and maybe use for some guidance. 

Love Her Well - Kari Kampakis

For many women, having a baby girl is a dream come true. Yet as girls grow up, the narrative of innocence and joy changes to gloom and doom as moms are told, “Just wait until she’s a teenager!” and handed a disheartening script that treats a teenage girl’s final years at home as solely a season to survive.

Author and blogger Kari Kampakis suggests it’s time to change the narrative and mind-set that lead moms to parent teen girls with a spirit of defeat, not strength. By improving the foundation, habits, and dynamics of the relationship, mothers can connect with their teen daughters and earn a voice in their lives that allows moms to offer guidance, love, wisdom, and emotional support.

As a mom of four daughters (three of whom are teenagers), Kari has learned the hard way that as girls grow up, mothers must grow up too. In Love Her Well, Kari shares ten ways that moms can better connect with their daughters in a challenging season, including:

choosing their words and timing carefully, listening and empathizing with her teen’s world, seeing the good and loving her for who she is, taking care of themselves and having a support system, and more.

This book isn’t a guide to help mothers “fix” their daughters or make them behave. Rather, it’s about a mom’s journey, doing the heart work and legwork necessary to love a teenager while still being a strong, steady parent. Kari explores how every relationship consists of two imperfect sinners, and teenagers gain more respect for their parents when they admit (and learn from) their mistakes, apologize, listen, give grace, and try to understand their teens’ point of view. Yes, teenagers need rules and consequences, but without a connected relationship, parents may never gain a significant voice in their lives or be a safe place they long to return to.

By admitting her personal failures and prideful mistakes that have hurt her relationships with her teenage daughters, Kari gives mothers hope and reminds them all things are possible through God. By leaning on him, mothers gain the wisdom, guidance, protection, and clarity they need to grow strong relationships with their daughters at every age, especially during the critical teen years.

When I was approached by TLC Book Tours about this one, I absolutely jumped at it because at the time, my oldest daughter Olivia and I were fighting a lot. As teenage daughters and their mothers do. A common topic in my therapy sessions is how I feel like a terrible mother who is consistently short changing my children because I can't get myself together and be the mom I was before my AFE. I can be told I'm good and my kids loved me until you are all blue in the face but I don't believe it. 

I have so many insecurities as a woman so I don't always feel like I'm equipped to even be raising children, let alone daughters. Then I feel inadequate compared to other moms, I know exactly what I don't want to be as a mom, and I just don't know how to line any of that up with good parenting that doesn't require her to be in intense therapy the rest of her adult life. 

I think I struggle with Olivia the most because she IS my first and I legitimately have no idea what I'm doing with her. I make the most mistakes with her. It has to be confusing to her because it has to be like being hired at a new job and learning quickly your boss has zero idea of what needs to be happening so you are dodging bizarre requests all of the time. I mean, I'm trying. I don't know what to do and SHOCKER, the What to Expect books basically stop at toddler age and even then its pretty vague and not at all useful. I do remember bits and pieces of my pregnancy with her but the two highlights were the day I found out I was having a girl and I was devastated. I don't know why I thought having a boy would be easier because that's nuts. I'm glad she was a girl though because somehow now she is really the kid I needed in the future because I can't imagine not having her right now. My other memory is the moment she was born and it was like someone turned the page and it was nothing except post-partum depression for me for the first year of her life. I struggled, hard, and I feel like her and I didn't even really get to know each other until she was almost three. She is just about 15 and I feel like I'm always behind getting to know her. When I saw this book, it felt like it was coming to me at the exact moment I needed it. 

First of all, this was an incredibly fast read. I found myself knowing some of this already and while that might feel like a waste for you, the author does a great job expanding on them and adding some more perspective so you find yourself reflecting on them differently. The book is faith based so it does include her faith, and if I had to knock points for something, I would have to say it was almost too overpowering for me. I think if I wasn't so ready for some advice, it might be off putting.  

My FAVORITE chapters are easily "See the Good, Loving Her as She Is and Where She Is" and "Be Her Emotional Coach". The chapter on finding good friends would have been SO great in fifth and sixth grade, and even seventh grade for awhile because girls that age are the absolute worst. The worst. It is so hard to make them understand the drama they are drowning in is going to eat them alive if they let it, so if you are in that age, YOU NEED THIS. 

Of course, there is information about encouraging her to have high standards for boyfriends, having self confidence, treating her like she is the person she could become, etc. I found myself taking notes and thinking about a few points, and asking my friend what her thoughts are. I was able to see I have a LOT of areas to improve on, but I also have a lot of areas I'm doing it right and that's kind of a good affirmation to have. It makes me feel like I can definitely do better, I've got good momentum. 

My other quip is that there is something in it that says daughters grow up to be a burden, which.... no. I don't think any child grows up to be a burden. Well, maybe if they end up living in your basement until well into adulthood, but that's kind of on you, right? 

The other great thing about this book is that it is comprised of a lot of lists so if you aren't a deep reader, but more of a skimmer, you can get something out of this. I also really liked the reflection questions at the beginning. My favorite? Is a line at the end that says, "Nobody loves a daughter like her mother", and I think that is really true. I always question that with my mom but then I look at my daughters and think that has to be true. (Disclaimer: I love my son just the same!)

A huge thank you to TLC Book Tours, Thomas Nelson Publishing, and Kari Kampakis for having me on this tour and sending me a copy for review. I know this was maybe the longest review of all time, but if you got to the end (yay!!), tell me what YOUR biggest challenge is with raising a daughter OR your biggest challenge with your mom growing up. I'd love to hear them. 

2 comments:

Ruth said...

My mom was not someone I could talk to. I was determined that was not going to be that way with me and my daughter. I saw something a long time ago that stuck with me. Listen to them about the the little things or they won't tell you the big things. My daughter is almost 24 and we have a great relationship.

Unknown said...

Thank you so much for your review! You are such a great mom, Sara!