When I was in graduate school for counseling, I just knew that the Lord was calling me to work with married couples. Just kidding.That was probably my own idea since my husband and I had benefited so much from our own marital therapy. Surely I would love helping other couples the way we had been helped. All through school, my three internships, and my two years working under supervision while getting my license, I really thought I’d do couples work.
I was working in a large private practice that happened to see a lot of children and adolescents. I was trying to accrue 1500 clinical hours in two years to be a licensed professional counselor, and I began seeing little girls and teenagers. It didn’t take me long to discover that working with girls was what fired me up. I raised three girls and lived to tell. As challenging as it was at times, I learned a lot about how girls think and what is happening in their heads when they’re not talking. I always loved being around my girls’ friends, and many of them confided in me for years before I was actually a real counselor. I wore my mom counselor hat well though and loved pouring into those girls that spent a lot of time at our house.
Now I would tell anyone who asked how fantastic it is to work with girls. Here’s why:
- Teenaged girls want to get along with their parents. They just don’t always know how.
- They will listen to me say the exact same thing that their mama has said, but because I say it instead of their mama, for some reason they’ll hear it from me.
- They love having someone to talk to that is completely on their side, who advocates for them, and listens to them. They love having my undivided attention.
- They don’t bullshit. They tell the truth and they want to be told the truth. They know when you’re lying.
- They love with strong and fierce hearts.
- Girls feel a lot of pressure and they want help in knowing what direction to go. Life in high school is pretty intense these days, and they feel an enormous amount of tension as they try to fit in, to be in the right group, and to be liked.
I had a difficult time as a teenager. While my mom and I were close then and remain close today, we had our share of struggles. I admit I was a handful. In the 80’s, no one I knew went to counseling. I guess there were counselors, but no godly Christian family would ever succumb to needing to see one. Wasn’t that what prayer and quiet times were for?!
If I had been able to work with an experienced counselor who understood what I was going through, who would advocate for me with my parents, and who I trusted and knew had my back, I think it would have been different for me. I think I would have made some different choices, and I think my relationship with my parents would have been better. Often as I work with girls, I remember what it felt like to be 16, to be lost, and to want to be loved while I was acting my most unlovable. Every single day I remind myself how blessed I am that He allows me to do what I am doing. The very idea that God has allowed me to be His instrument in working with girls and their families to bring about understanding and compassion is almost more than I can bear.
Take heart mamas of teenagers! One day soon your daughter will be kind and loving. She’ll make her bed and keep her room clean. She’ll speak to her siblings kindly and with respect. In the meantime, hang on! The ride might be bumpy.
*Photo credit Steve Crane