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“They are all confused”.
This was what a former student of mine, who now teaches middle school, said to me recently about her students.
It is completely normal for a child going through adolescence to be confused about who they are.
It was confusing in the 1980’s and 1990’s- I vividly remember that.
It seems like the confusion has accelerated immensely in recent years.
My former student agrees.
We want our daughters to be comfortable and confident to just be themselves . . . but:
We can’t tell a 12 year old girl to “just be yourself” and walk away.
Most 12 year-olds are wondering who they are!
We can help them to discover her identity in Christ.
By answering these questions – even if we haven’t heard our children ask them out loud.
Question: Is my gender a mistake?
Answer: No. God made you on purpose, with a purpose and nothing that God has ever created was, is or will be a mistake.
“One has to be content with what has been assigned him by heaven” (Jn. 3:27)*
Remind and reassure your daughter that she was created out of pure love by God the Father.
God gave her a specific body and that body is . . .
“a window into the depth of the person who is inescapably male or female. We can think of the body as a compass which points us toward love—both the love which is our origin and the love which fulfills us. After all, “it is not good for the man to be alone”
(Gen. 2:18): (from Focus article on the Catholic Church and gender)
Tell her she is unique and unrepeatable.
Assure her that God has a plan and mission for her. We need to tell her that she should pray often; giving thanks to Our Lord and asking the Holy Spirit for guidance.
Question: Do my actions really matter? How important is it for me to obey the Commandments and go to Mass?
Answer: Little acts of faith done are really important.
“If we are faithful in little, we will obtain grace for the big.“
Saint Katharine Drexel
We need to stress how important little acts of faith are in our daily lives.
I am a firm believer that every young person should watch the original Karate Kid movie.
When Daniel finally confronts Mr. Miyagi about painting the fence, sanding the floor, waxing the cars, and all the other chores he felt were “pointless” he quickly realizes that those acts were not in vain.
Daniel was being trained to defend himself physically.
Our little acts of faith allow our soul to be trained.
God does not want to cause stress in our lives.
God wants us to be faithful in the little so we will have grace for the big stuff.
Our Lord wants us to help one person at a time, and start with the person closest to us.
God wants us to enjoy His creation and smile at others. He desires our hearts and our trust.
Question: Did God give me any talents? OR Why would God give me this talent?
Answer: Yes, God gives everyone special talents. God gives us talents so that we can grow to closer to Him and serve others.
“So let your light shine before your fellow men . . .”
It is totally fine if you don’t yet know what talents He has given you.
It is totally fine if you can’t imagine how your talent could help another person. One day it will be revealed to you… until then, work honestly and diligently.
Question: Why can’t I be friends with so and so – God says to love everyone!!!
Answer: It’s okay to not be friends with everyone. In fact, you are not meant to be friends with all of your peers.
“Love everyone with a strenuous love based on charity, but form friendships only with those who can share virtuous things with you.”
– St. Francis de Sales
God doesn’t want you to be friends with everyone.
Yes, you are to love others. Yes, you are to show kindness and compassion. But friendship is a special gift for a few people.
Do not let popularity become a god.
Many teens make being liked or popular such a priority that God’s voice becomes distant and difficult to hear.
We need to stress the need to stay close to Him and make His will their top priority.
Question: How do I love myself?
Answer: Take care of yourself. Care for both your body and your soul.
Self-care and self-love includes taking care of your soul.
“You have a soul, be careful with it.”
-Chris Pratt, actor
Discuss Spiritual health.
We often speak about what is good for the body (veggies) and not good (junk food, drugs, etc.)
We should not forget to tell our children that sin is bad for them!
We need to teach them that it is critical for them to avoid sin. If she does not know if something is a sin or not… she should ask you! And chances are if she “doesn’t know” it’s probably not the best choice.
Our souls need to be cared for just like our bodies.
Want more advice like this? I recommend reading “How To Talk To Your Tween (or Teen) About Sex”
What would you add? How can we help young girls “Be who God meant them to be and set the world ablaze “!?
If you want your daughter to grow in her relationship with God and get to know herself while having fun, I recommend giving her a copy of Be Yourself: a Journal for Catholic Girls!
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*Found this in an incredible book given to me recently: My Other Self – the copy I have was published in the 1950’s, but it was recently re-published and is great for reminding us as adults who God has called us to be and how God is calling us to think and live.