stories and lessons

Click on a link below to read and learn from the stories about other teenage daughters.

know where you stand stories

About Julia:

Julia is a 13 year old living in an upper-middle class suburb and attends a very competitive middle school. She is the “total package” by every external measure and some internal ones too. Julia’s smart, well-liked, a star athlete, naturally beautiful, attends church as often as she can with her family, and here’s the really important one – doesn’t use Facebook because “it takes up too much time”.

So is Julia just one of those kids that live a charmed life? Everything comes pretty easily to her, right?

What’s Julia’s Brave?

When I asked Julia, “What’s Your Brave?” Her response was immediate and tearful: “asking questions in math class”. Every day Julia walks into her 8th grade honors math class (the highest level at her school which tracks math students – that’s a topic for another day). On her last math test, Julia’s grade was an 84 percent.

“There’s nothing wrong with a ‘B’,” she explains, letting the emotion flow. The problem isn’t the grade, but rather a group of 7th grade boys in her class who skipped ahead a year in math because they were so advanced (read nine years of private tutoring twice a week and Saturday Kumon classes).

As the boys peeked over her shoulder at her grade, one scoffed, “You only got an 84?!”

“Wow, you are stupid!” the other boy replied.

“They just find the class really easy and make fun of me because I don’t.”

Anticipating relentless commentary from them like, “How could you ask such a stupid question in class?” makes asking questions in class or even walking into math class some days an act of everyday courage for Julia.

Being brave isn’t being fearless or emotionless for her, it’s doing the right thing (in this case asking questions to learn and do her best) no matter what others think or say.

How Did Julia Get So Brave?

I emailed Julia’s mother a few weeks after I spoke with her to see how it was going. Although her circumstances in math class haven’t changed very much, Julia’s feelings about it have changed radically.

Her mother relayed Julia’s response:

“I feel better about it. I talked to my math teacher. She talked to them so they stopped the most annoying stuff. Then, I dealt with what wasn’t going to change, learned it’s just two individuals. So it is not so intimidating. I stayed away from them and stayed close to my friends.”

Wow -- how did Julia get such perspective? She relied on one of the real charms of her life -- her tribe. For Julia, that’s her mom and a handful of friends that she “stayed close to” during the tough days of math class. She talked about the situation a lot with her friends and made sure to meet up with them before and after math class whenever possible for support.

So what do you think? Does Julia live a charmed life? No, but her tribe is helping her live a brave one.

What Can Parents Learn from Julia’s Story?

One way to help your daughter develop everyday courage is to assist her in identifying and developing her tribe. Even in your own life, how much easier would it be to practice an act of every day courage if you knew that your tribe would be there to surround you with their support – literally and figuratively -- before and after the brave act.

Who are your daughter’s key go to people – friends and family that she can trust for support when the going gets tough and better yet, even before it does?

Favorite Quote from Julia:

“I don’t use Facebook because it takes up too much time, I don’t want the stress of worrying that people will get mad at me if I didn’t post a ‘happy birthday’ message.”

Amanda Learns To Use Her “Inside Voice”

About Amanda:

Amanda lives in an affluent East Coast suburb and attends a high school that is competitive both academically and in sports. However, Amanda may be like other teen girls you know. She is applying to college, working part time and loves hanging out with her friends. She is not part of the sports group or the highest honors academic group. She has found her own niche among her close group of friends through art. It is important for her to let everyone know that not all teenage girls “hate” their moms.

Amanda seems to have it all together, great school, friends, her art, so what’s the big deal?

What’s Amanda’s Brave?

When I asked, Amanda told me her brave, “My mom had breast cancer and I really wanted to be brave for her so she wouldn’t feel that I was in a lot of pain.” Fear of the unknown and needing to be strong played a major role in Amanda’s life.

During this time Amanda was also navigating her first year of middle school. Most of her friends from elementary school were in other classes. She was having trouble making new friends. Middle school can be a time when most girls remain emotionally silent on the outside.

When asked how she was, her response was the same, “Everything is fine, great even.” On the inside though, Amanda felt, “Isolated.”

To say that this was a difficult time in Amanda’s life is an understatement. Everyday she would go to school and be brave and come home and be brave. As Amanda said, “It was hard because I really didn’t know what was going on.”

How did Amanda remain brave during this time?

Her tribe.

Who was in her tribe? Her mom and then her friends.

When I asked her what helped her with her brave Amanda said, “My mom gave me a lot of support.” She was able to talk to her mom and it helped that her mom was honest with her.

“She would tell me what could happen but say it probably won’t and not to be scared.” What also really helped was when she was sad she would cry. Eventually this is what opened her up to the support of her friends. One day she couldn’t take the heaviness of it all. She ran into a friend of hers at school in the bathroom. She cried telling her friend about her mom and her friend cried along with her.

When I asked her how she felt after, “Relief!” It was out there now and she didn’t need to keep it all inside anymore.

So does Amanda have it all together? No, but her mom and friends, “her tribe”, are there to guide her along the way.

What Can Parent’s Learn from Amanda’s Story?

One way to help your teen daughters with everyday courage is to be available. Engage in conversation even after your daughter says, “Fine.” Let her know all the time, every day, that you support her. Share yourself with your daughter. Our own stories and fears allow your daughter to see that we are human, we do understand.

As Amanda told me, she knew her mom was there whenever she needed to talk. It wasn’t every day but when she needed her. Also, as we have been taught, honesty is the best policy. Amanda’s mom was completely honest with her.

Who is in your daughter’s tribe? Are you one of them?

Favorite Quote from Amanda

“Not all teen girls hate their moms!”