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Go Ask Mom

Go Ask Mom

Mom of teens reflects on her 'if onlys'

Posted July 13, 2010 8:41 p.m. EDT

I can remember when my girls were babies. One adored the baby swing and would have joyfully lived her life in it. The other hated it and would grab the legs to shake herself free.

Now that my babies are 15 and 13, I'm reflective on things I would have done differently.

Knowing what I know now, here's what I would have changed:

What modesty is: When the girls and I shop, we spend time in the Juniors section. I want to ask designers if they know what modesty is. If I had realized how strongly media would encourage my daughters to flaunt their bodies, I would have spent more time pointing out the merits of modesty. I wish I had been more consistent about pointing out women who looked gorgeous, but not at the expense of modesty and self-respect. I have tried to model it with my own attire. However, when shopping, my girls don't have many options that appeal to mom and daughter.

Changes in middle school: Having attended a school with kindergarten through eighth grade, I never experienced middle school like my girls did. With no personal experience to draw from, I felt ill-equipped to handle the changes they each dealt with when they entered middle school. I wish I had talked to other moms who'd lived through it for information and wisdom. What a difference it might have made for us if I had engaged my girls in more open-ended questions. I could have mined for clues about what was going with them so I could better encourage, redirect and pray as needed.

Loyalty to friends: Speaking of middle school, if I had known how fiercely loyal they'd be to friends who lead them down wrong paths, I would have talked more in-depth about how to choose a good friend. I wish I had shared more stories of my own poor friend choices and the consequences those friendships brought. Maybe they would have caught a glimpse of themselves in my stories. I also wish I had more quickly taken my own mom's sage advice to criticize the friend less and pray more for my daughters' eyes to be opened.

My girls are only in high school, so there's still time for me to mother them. Each day I've tried to use the lessons I've learned to parent better. The one thing that I have no regrets or “if onlys” about is that I love my daughters fiercely.

That's one thing I don't need hindsight to get right!

Marietta Taylor, 44, is the mom of two girls ages 15 and 13 and has been married for 17 years. The family moved from Chicago to Raleigh in 2003. The first few years were a wild ride and were the inspiration for her first book, "Surviving Unemployment Devotions To Go!" Read more about Mari on her blog and website.