What inspired you to write these books over ten years ago?
When I wrote the original versions, I was at the tail-end of my parenting journey. I had one child in college, another about to graduate high school and another close behind. Having served in ministry to tweens and teens for over a decade, I felt like I had been given a front-row seat to the culture’s impact on our children and youth. I had already written several resources for mothers of girls and tween and teen girls and at the time, and I spoke around the country at youth, college, and mother/daughter events.I had encountered many mothers who felt overwhelmed with the task of navigating their children in a fast-paced and promiscuous culture. In addition, they felt under-qualified when it came to broaching some difficult topics with their daughters (and likewise, their sons). As a mother, I could relate to what they were feeling, having been in their same shoes. By pinpointing the important conversations and giving them the necessary facts pertaining to each one, I hoped it would give them a starting point to begin talking.
What kind of ministry impact have you seen them have on parents and their relationships with their sons and daughters?
I have been so humbled by the feedback I’ve received over the years. I think the general theme I heard from mothers was that the books helped them not feel as alone in the parenting journey. I shared many examples of mistakes made along the way (mine as well as my children’s), and mothers could relate to the admission of imperfection. I especially loved hearing the stories over the years of how the conversations deepened their relationships with their children.
What did you learn from conversations like these that you may have had with your own children as they were growing up?
I think the biggest lesson I learned was that even though they were annoyed at times with my attempts to talk about some serious topics along the way, they felt loved and cared for. They knew they could come to me (or my husband), and nothing was off bounds to talk about. Now that they all have children of their own, it’s rewarding to hear them express concern about the culture and talk about how they will handle it with their own children. In other words, they are on their way to becoming the same annoying parent I once was!
What’s new about these revised and expanded editions?
A whole lot! I was essentially writing the new editions to a brand new generation of parents raising a brand new generation of children facing a brand new set of challenges. I did massive amounts of research on iGen (or Gen Z) to better understand the issues they are facing. I was shocked at how much had changed in just ten short years since I had written the original books. iGen/Gen Z kids are the first generation to grow up a post-Christian culture, they have been dubbed the “nones” when it comes to faith. They are experiencing an epidemic of loneliness, depression, anxiety and a variety of other mental health issues. We need all hands on deck, and we can’t afford to stand on the sidelines in silence or even worse, assume they are absorbing our faith along the way. As a grandmother, I have skin in this game, so I felt a renewed passion to come alongside parents and cheer them on in the task they’ve been given. In spite of the ever-changing times, Jesus Christ remains the same yesterday, today and forever.
How do you hope parents use these? At what age can they use them with their sons and daughters?
My hope is the mothers will be intentional in talking to their children about the challenges they face throughout their growing up years. They are not one-time conversations but rather, ongoing, continuous conversations that occur over the years. Some can begin when their children are young by introducing basic concepts, while others are better suited when the children become more aware of their surrounding culture. I’ve also included questions at the end of each of the five conversations for those who may wish to use the book in a small group or book club setting.
How do you hope relationships are strengthened and grown as a result of these updated versions?
My prayer for mothers is that the book will be a springboard in building a trusting relationship that transitions into a lifelong friendship long after their children leave the nest. Truly, this is the greatest reward!