Love Her Well: 10 Ways to Find Joy and Connection with Your Teenage Daughter
By Kari Kampakis
Like most little girls, I loved playing with dolls and pretending to be a mommy. I enjoyed dressing up Barbies and my American Girl doll, changing diapers and bottle-feeding my baby dolls, carrying dolls on my hip and pushing them in strollers, and other creative play of my imagination. My favorite thing, though, was dreaming of what it would be like to be a mom someday. I had no idea my body would later become “home” to grow five humans, making my dream of being a mom both a daily reality and a gift unlike any other.
Today, I am a mom to five children ages 10, 7, 4, 2, and 6 months – four girls, one boy (my son is smack dab in the middle). When most people learn I have four daughters and one son their first response is something along the lines of, “poor guy!” or a look of pity towards my son and husband. Usually my husband and I laugh it off and say something like we tried twice for another boy but deep down we are grateful for each child God has gifted us and could not imagine a world where these five individual children were not our own.
Even so, I recognize the irony of God gifting me four daughters. I have a lengthy testimony that includes many pitfalls that come with being a girl heavily influenced by culture (BC). As a first-born, introverted, perfectionist, I have battled insecurity my entire life but it gained its power during my adolescence. As a result, I was a mean girl, I had an eating disorder, I fell hard to receive artificial love, and sought approval in all of the wrong places. My life as a girl before Christ (BC) is the portrait of “what not to do” or “how not to live” if you are desiring to live life to the fullest. My testimony of everything I experienced, believed, thought, and was exposed to is the force that drives me to parent four daughters who live for God’s Kingdom rather than the world’s.
That said, I was instantly drawn to the book Love Her Well: 10 Ways to Find Joy and Connection with Your Teenage Daughter by Kari Kampakis.
Love Her Well is written by a mom who also has four daughters, three of those daughters being teens. Having never read anything by Kampakis before, this gave the author instant street-cred in my mind because she is speaking in the present as she is experiencing the challenges of the mother/daughter relationship and raising teenagers in real-time.
Kampakis begins Love Her Well by encouraging fellow moms to combat the narrative of striving to survive the teen years with their daughters by instead pursuing connection as sisters in Christ. By doing so, mothers can earn a voice of wisdom, trust, and guidance in their daughter’s life as they establish empathy and emotional support for the challenging teen years they inevitably face.
Rather than parenting from a place of discouragement and defeat, Love Her Well provides moms with practical habits to help improve the dynamic of the mother/daughter relationship. The ten chapters in this book are divided broadly into the ten ways to discover joy and connection with your daughter while each individual chapter includes a ___ number of ways to live out the content being addressed, concluding with applicable questions for moms to consider as they relate to their current situation or experience. The topics covered involve mental and emotional health for both moms and daughters, becoming a good listener instead of a constant critic, believing the best rather than assuming the worst, the power of prayer and faith to combat fear and guilt, the importance of having fun together, and more.
I particularly loved how each chapter read like a blog post, combining the author’s unique voice and perspective with the practicability and applicability of steps to walk the reader through whatever they are facing. It was quite refreshing while also coming across as personable and relatable. I really enjoyed this book and found myself taking notes, dog-earing pages, and directing the wisdom straight to my heart. In the end, my copy of Love Her Well received some wear and tear and I know it will only get more love and use in the parenting years to come.
Even though my oldest daughter is just hitting the tween-years, she has already experienced troubling things I would never wish upon any child. The world we live in is far different (much worse, in my opinion) than the one we grew up in – it is constantly changing and we need to adapt our parenting if we desire to raise daughters for the Kingdom. As well, what works for one daughter may not work for another. Regardless, attempting to shelter our children by bubble-wrapping them with filters and restrictions, ignoring culture completing or trying to be our daughter’s best friend is not how to parent our beloved sisters in Christ. We must be purposeful and intentional in raising the next generation of image bearers.
Love Her Well will give moms the encouragement, strength and guidance they need to not just make a difference in their daughter’s life but hopefully in the world and in their generation. I cannot say enough good things about this book and recommend it to any mother or grandmother of girls or anyone who is a leader or mentor of young girls.
* I received this book from Front Gate Media in exchange for promotion and my honest review (truthfully, though, I would have easily promoted this book if I had purchased it for myself, it is THAT good!)