A Letter To My Teenage Daughters


For some reason this year as school began I was much more aware of how quickly my kids are growing up. Time is moving quickly and Lily especially is beginning to ride that fine line between my little girl and all grown up.

Watching the MTV music awards and reading this brilliant post have started to make me think about the kind of teenage girls I want mine to be. And more specifically the kind of teenage girl I don’t want them to be.

I am sure raising girls has been difficult for a long time. But, is it just me, or is this an exceptionally hard time to be raising girls. I fear even letting them leave the house because the second they do they are assaulted by images that are so opposite to who I hope for them to be.

So here are the things I desperately want them to know in the not so distant future.

  1. Everyone is NOT doing it: I don’t know what “it” is at this particular moment, but “it” is always something. And you are not the only person who isn’t doing “it”. And you are better off not doing “it”. And most of the other girls who are doing “it” probably wish they had the guts to say no to doing it too.
  2. I am not your friend: I love you. Someday I hope we get to the point in our relationship where we are friends. But right now is not that time. I am your mom.
  3. Don’t EVER pretend you are dumber than you are: Somewhere along the way being a “stupid” girl became cool. Being dumb is never cool (don’t even get me STARTED on this crap). You are super smart girls. Rock your smart girl self. Oh and while we are at it, science and math are not for boys. If you want to be a mathelete, your mama will be in the front row cheering you on.
  4. Modesty is classy: Thank goodness for Princess Kate bringing classy back. Dressing covered up and with class needs to be trendy again. Showing boys all your stuff in clothes that reveal far too much is not going to attract the kind of boys you want to attract. It might attract the boys you think you want to attract but it will also attract looks from men who are your grandfather’s age. Cover yourself up appropriately.
  5. Marry someone like your daddy: While we are on the subject of boys, marry someone who cherishes and respects you. Marry someone who brings out your very best. And watch how that boy treats his mother and his waiter. They both say volumes about what kind of person he is.
  6. There is no such thing as casual sex: I know the world would love you to believe that sex is harmless and silly and can be enjoyed without strings attached. It might even try to make you believe that when you love someone and it “feels right” you should go for it. There is a reason God designed sex for marriage. I know many people who have a lot of regret about their sexual past. I don’t know any who regret that they waited. (see also #1)
  7. Girls can be mean: Teenage friendships can be brutal. Girls can be horribly mean. Don’t be a mean girl. When you are way out of high school you might not remember all the girls who were mean to you (although unfortunately you might), but you will most likely remember the girl who rose above it all and treated people with kindness. Be that girl.
  8. You can ALWAYS use your mom and dad as an excuse: I can’t tell you how many bad situations I got myself out of growing up by using my parents as an excuse of why I couldn’t do something I didn’t feel comfortable doing. Tell them we won’t allow you to do xyz. I have NO problem being thrown under the bus so that you don’t end up in a bad situation.
  9. You are beautiful: I don’t know what you will look like when you are a teenager. So how can I promise you that you are beautiful? Because I know the One that made you and I know you are made in his image. Work on looking like Him on the inside and you will be gorgeous on the outside. Guaranteed.
  10. I can’t fix it: I wish I could keep you sheltered from the hard stuff. I wish I could take away your pain. But I really don’t. The hard stuff is what will grow you and shape you and make you into an amazing adult. I will listen and hold you hand and wipe your tears (although I refer you back to #2). But I will hopefully guide you back to the One who knows you best. I will mess up HUGELY (as you already know after living with me this long), but He never will. He Never Will.

this post is linked up to Top Ten Tuesday at Oh Amanda and The Saturday Evening Post at Elizabeth Esther.


  1. Perfection. Simle perfection. Wish I had read this a good a15 years ago.

  2. Amazing post babe. Our daughters are so blessed to have you as a mom!!!

  3. Janmary, N Ireland says:

    So well put – Amen – I have many of the same concerns and really identify with those points.

    Add in the raging hormones of a teen to it all and it certainly makes life interesting.

    Of all your points it is probably the last 2 which are the most difficult for my 13 year old daughter to believe right now.

  4. Can I copy it & sign my name for Megan??? So good, so sweet & so right on!!

  5. Such a great letter! I was just having a conversation with a neighbor/friend about a lot of these things {she has two girls just a bit older than mine}.

    And yes, always use mom and dad as an excuse! I did it countless times and saved myself from a lot of heartaches because of it.
    Sarah recently posted…Are You a Flirt?My Profile

  6. What a fantastic post! Every mom should take the time to put her thoughts into words and share them with their daughters. Too often we assume they already know what to do or what we are thinking. I couldn’t have said it better myself and feel exactly the same way on so many points. Will definitely be sharing this with own 11yr old daughter. Thank you for sharing!
    Erin (HebronMommy) recently posted…Wordless Wednesday – Sharks Under the Little SeaMy Profile

  7. Judy Laing says:

    Wonderful! Such wise words. I have 3 boys…please can you write one for boys ;))) Though I think I can pinch at least 7 of the above and insert ‘boy’ instead of girl and it would still be Godly advice .

    Thanks for this !

    Judy x

  8. Eos Mom says:

    So good! So true! Number 8 is a great one! I will have to save this post for my kids.

  9. Tamara Sz says:

    Love this! Though my daughter is years from being a teen, I’m already scared (giving it over to God) to death. You summed up so much of my heart in this post!

  10. This is wonderful. :)

    Two things:
    1. About to share this on FB.
    2. #10 reminds me of the newest Shane & Shane song. If you haven’t seen the video, you should. Here’s the link–http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SEYjSQipL60.
    Arline Erven recently posted…Blogs-to-Go (8.2.11)My Profile

  11. OH how beautiful and perfect and awesome this post is! And, I agree fully with your husband… what a gift your children have been given in a mother like you. I cant wait to sing this post from the highest mountains. As a mother of two small girls, I hope I always can help them remember each and every single one of these important life lessons.

  12. Jennifer Young says:

    I love this, Jill. So simple and the advice is just perfect. Although, not all of us are so sure about #5, but time will tell. And, oh my, #8. I did this all the time!!

  13. Perfect! I am stealing this and reading it to my girls :) Your girls certainly are blessed to have you – as a mom and not a friend. I l LOVE, LOVE, LOVE #10!! Great post my friend…….
    Christina recently posted…An Exfoliation Mask You Probably Haven’t Tried….But Should!My Profile

    • Thank you. And YOU should really be giving ME advice. You are in the trenches of this. It is probably easier to write about it when you are not up to your eyeballs in hormonal girls :)

  14. Awesome, Jill. Love it. All of it. And “it” being this post. :)

  15. beautiful! Perfect! SUPER LOVE!

  16. LOVE THIS! I’ve said most of the same to my girl who is growing up way to fast. I love the way this is all written out.

    She and I went on a girl’s retreat this weekend (which I TOTALLY need to blog about) and talked about body changes and why our bodies are changing. (This was all categorically deemed disgusting btw).

    I think next girls retreat I shall give her something like this on a nice card that she can put in her Bible (or wherever she feels she needs to put it).

    Kathy @ House of Hills recently posted…Live, Love, Serve : 09 03 11My Profile

  17. Best. Blog. Post. Ever. :-)
    Jo-Lynne {Musings of a Housewife} recently posted…{Gluten-Free} Cinnamon Raisin MuffinsMy Profile

  18. love this post so much :)

  19. Ah.maze.ing.! I love that you said modesty is classy and not modest is hottest – that phrase just does not sit well with me. I also love that you said “I am not your friend, I am your mom”. I agree 100%. I would also add that they should wait until marriage to have sex yet talk openly to them about it and not make sex seem bad so that it’ll cause problems in the future of marriage. Also, being a “good girl” is a great thing! The perfect (for them) guy will appreciate it and then you don’t have to feel bad when you reflect on your past.
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  20. Julie says:

    Thank you for writing this! I am holding on to this for my little girl. All things my mom told me when I was younger and I’m thankful to this day for it even though I didn’t like everything she said at the time.

  21. Yes!!! Thank you for writing this, Jill. I’ll be sharing it with my own girls.

    The Moosh post reminded me a little bit about one I wrote a while back. Just in case you’re interested: http://www.shellywildman.net/2011/03/how-your-daughter-dresses-matters.html
    Shelly W. recently posted…I’m Giving Myself an F in MultitaskingMy Profile

  22. This is wonderful! As a mom of 2 girls (age 4 and 2) this was a sweet thing to read.

  23. Love this. An adult friend of mine (young widow in her 30’s) told me that as a teenager her father told her “Don’t do anything that you would prevent someone you’ve never met from liking you” She said she thinks about this all the time. She is in a difficult situation dating with young children and she always reminds herself of this and how she handles her personal life. So as a teen I think this relates very well to #1, #6 & #7 especially. You should ask yourself would I want my “future best friend, boyfriend or husband” to know that I did ____? Character is doing what is right when nobody is looking.

  24. Great post, Jill! I wish every mother would tell her daughter these things! I am so thankful that my mom taught me many of the same lessons, and using your parents as an excuse is always effective!

  25. Well said. Thank you
    Amanda recently posted…Freezing ZucchiniMy Profile

  26. Oh I love it. Throw me under the bus all you want ladies. I’ll be the lame parent if it means you stay safe.
    moosh in indy. recently posted…third, second, first, fourth, best.My Profile

  27. Here’s from Finer Things and just have to say this. is. amazing! My little girl is only 1, but I’m going to save this for our future.


  28. Great post!! I’m not a mommy–unless our indoor/outdoor cat counts as a child–but I will be sharing this with some of my mommy friends. I’m also going to file this away for myself to use at a later date.

    I’m a high school teacher, and I wish some of my girls would get this message from their moms.

    PS…Thank you for deciding to be a parent and not your child’s BFF. So many parents want to be the friend, thank you for being the parent and being ok with that fact.
    Kim recently posted…I’ve been keeping a secret…My Profile

  29. hell to the yeah. good wisdom here. so glad it’s not time for me to dig in my heels yet!
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  30. Love this post!!!!!!! It is fabulous!
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  31. This is a fabulous post. My first three children are daughters and the years are approaching all too quickly when I’ll be saying these things to them as well. I’ve been using the line, “I’m your mom…that’s my job” for most of their lives and I’m glad I don’t try to be their friends. Being their mom is work enough without having to ensure they like me, too. :)
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  32. Kelly says:

    Love this!!! I have 3 teenagers, 18, 15 and 14. My youngest is a girl and boy has it been a challenge! This is the perfect letter for her and so well put! Thank you! :) God bless you and your daughters and thank you for sharing.

  33. love this!! (just came over from Simple Mom). i totally agree with everything, but speaking of these times being particularly hard for raising girls (and boys), i would say that maybe this letter (or part of the letter) should enter the scene before the teen years? (i.e. before age 13?) i know that boy issues started for me around 11/12…. and sadly it’s probably not getting any better for kids today. my 12-year-old male cousin had a “girlfriend” starting at age 12 – and that’s not uncommon at all. in fact his girlfriend had already had 3 “boyfriends” before 6th or 7th grade.

  34. Roberta says:

    Wise/wonderful advice!

  35. Tiffany says:

    Your thoughts about mean girls, particularly “you will most likely remember the girl who rose above it all and treated people with kindness” is absolutely true! I remember the mean girls and still (15 years out of high school) still associate those girls with meanness.

    Thanks for sharing!

  36. Broken Hearted says:

    I have never posted a comment before but here goes:
    Ironic how I have just read your post and it was written two days before my two teenage daughters moved out and I have not seen them since. It is not always a case of (5) “marrying someone like daddy” though as sometimes all the hurt and terrible unimaginable damage comes from that person in the first place affecting not only the children but the mother as well. And (8) use your mum or dad as an excuse – sometimes it is easier to blame your parents for everything because it is really so easy to do that -though of course I know that this is not what you mean.
    Your post shows that you have already succeeded where I failed after being a lone parent with virtually no parenting from their father for a decade….until this time last year. He has come out smelling of roses while I have lost years of my life for what would seem people who don’t even acknowledge the loneliness of the journey I made for them, the financial impact and the terrible bereavement a mother feels when she is parted from her albeit difficult demanding teenagers. AND I am not allowed to feel bitter because it is not allowed.

  37. Beautiful, heartfelt and well written. Thank you!

    Ronda and I have reared six great kids and thankfully we discovered early that friendship and parenthood are compatible. It is obvious if a parent has to try to be a friend to their children then there is a problem. Forced friendships are rarely if ever successful.

    The word discipline and disciple are from the same root. A disciple follows and even tries to emulate the leader. This kind of parenting begins at the birth of the child and is not forced but is the natural outcome of being a fairly consistent and kind friend. It involves correction with explanations and with increased love. It involves time spent in child-centered activities when we may be bored. It involves looking for reasons to say “yes” but when none is found “no” is immoveable. But mostly it involves teaching and motivating our children. This is tiring but well worth it!

    Every human is born with agency but when they are young they need scaffolding on that agency to support and teach the child what choices are safe. As the child matures wise parents remove the scaffolding well before the child begins to tear it down itself. These are traumatic times for the parent to let go and allow the child to experience growing up but it pays for itself fourfold in the joy of friendship and love.

  38. Just found your blog today. Thanks for the great letter to your daughters.
    I just gave my 13-year old a letter this morning, and posted it on my blog (almost the exact same title :-)

    Thanks again for your post. Blessings to you and your family.
    Todd Gaddy recently posted…A Letter to My Teenage PrincessMy Profile

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