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“She turned 13!”

ASHLEY THABA
A few months ago, my friend casually mentioned something she was doing that weekend which really stuck with me as brilliant! I recently had the opportunity to do this idea myself.

It went BETTER than I could have expected! I want to encourage YOU to do this! To give credit where its due, in case this idea catches on and becomes a new cultural norm, my friend’s name is Kenalemang Nkwoji.

My daughter turned 13 over the weekend, officially entering the infamous teenage years where our little girl will begin the journey to become a full-fledged adult.  These years are the ones which will most likely shape her future. In these years, decisions she makes regarding school, boys, drugs, work ethic, friends, etc. can literally RUIN the rest of her life. Alternatively, if she does well in school, remains sexually pure, resists the urge to do drugs and alcohol, and learns good work ethic, there is a very high possibility that her future is bright.

As parents, we try and teach these moral values and encourage our young children with the importance of wise choices.

However, we talk so much into our children’s lives that sometimes our voices are not taken seriously. Therefore, this past weekend, after I let her celebrate her milestone birthday in her manner of choice, I did a little celebration which was my choice. I invited 4 older ladies to come over and speak wisdom and encouragement into her life. (This is what my friend Kena did for her daughter as well – where I got the idea.)

I intentionally invited women that I respect and who have successfully raised teenage daughters. These ladies love me and want the best for our family. Any advice they would give would edify my daughter and form a foundational memory of great encouragement as she entered her teenage years. To make it more appealing for them and make the memory even more special for my daughter, I went all out on the tea party so it was truly a beautiful afternoon to remember.

(Don’t worry- we were careful when it came to observing Covid-10 protocols.) To start the afternoon off, I requested the ladies share what they personally did well as teenagers and what they personally did NOT do well that they would change if they could. For my daughter, who had never really been included in a tell all session of adult talk, this was really memorable in and of itself. Usually, when adults start talking about their teenage mistakes, the “kids” are asked to leave the room. Now, she was not only included in the discussions, but the primary audience of these memories and confessions. That really made her feel special and helped to punctuate the change she should now expect as she is becoming a woman.

Let me share a few lessons that my daughter later told me were impactful to her.

l One lady shared her whole life she had been told never be a snitch. She continued into her adolescence with this mindset and kept many secrets

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from her parents. When friends told her about drugs or alcohol they were doing, she kept quiet.

When boys pressured her to have sex, she kept quiet. When friends suffered depression and even talk of suicide, she kept quiet. She encouraged my daughter in hindsight, there is a time to “snitch”. She wishes she would have been more open with her parents on the sexual temptations, friends who later got into trouble with drug and alcohol use, and friends who could have used professional counseling had their parents known the pain they were going through. After the conversation, my daughter told me she would try and get better about sharing some things she encountered with me.

l One lady looking back said she realised some of the choices she made were not worth the consequences she lived with. Her advice, “Ask yourself with every decision… is this worth it?” Additionally, as yourself, “if your mom were here, would you still do this?”

l We discussed how hard it is to go against the crowd and not fall prey to the pressure to be popular. Interestingly enough, all of us ladies made one pertinent observation. The girls that become popular because they are loose with boys or mean to others fizzle out after high school. As people grow and mature, they stop following them around. Those girls who made that their identity realise high school was their glory years and struggle to succeed now that which made them popular isn’t working for them anymore as they age. Lesson- don’t try and become like these girls nor succumb to the temptation to emulate them. In ten years, they will not look so attractive!

Space doesn’t permit me to share more lessons, but my prayer is, as parents, we will continue to be intentional about raising girls and boys of integrity. Don’t wait til they are so old they have already made the mistakes and you WISH you would have said something earlier!

Be proactive and celebrate your children as they enter their formative teenage years. Equip them with tools to deal with the pressures they will face. Surround them with loving wise voices to speak life into them. Our entire nation would be a better place if, as parents, we raised children to be a blessing to others and to walk with integrity.

*Ashley Thaba is a popular motivational speaker, team building facilitator, author and the Producer of a hit TV show offering practical advice to strengthen families and improve marriages! Episodes of her show can be downloaded from her website – www.ashleythaba.com.You can view some of her work on her YouTube channel: Ashley Thaba. You can buy three of her books, Dive In, Making Marriages Fun, and Conquering the Giants, on her website. You can email her at askthaba@gmail.com or follow her on Facebook at: Talking with the Thabas



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