10 Things Your 10-Year-Old Daughter Needs to Know

There are certain people in this world who soften me when I look at them.

My daughter Marie Claire is one of them.

Maybe it’s rosy cheeks. Or her starry eyes. Or her lyrical voice as sweet as honey that reminds me of a fairy.

Then again, it could be what I know about Marie Claire that isn’t readily apparent. Like how kind, tender-hearted, and compassionate she is. How she knows what to say to a friend who’s been hurt by another child. How she listens before she speaks and often makes remarks that grab me and make me think, “Wow, that’s really wise.”

Clearly, there are many qualities that I admire and love about my girl. But if I had to pick a favorite, I’d choose her joyful spirit.

It doesn’t take much to make Marie Claire happy. It really is the simple things – like having a dance party in the kitchen, or jumping on the trampoline with friends – that make her radiate.

I want her to keep that light. I want her confidence and self-esteem to last for years to come. Where Marie Claire is now, fast approaching her 10th birthday, is the sweet spot before adolescence.  As I think about what typically happens to girls in adolescence – how studies show that confidence and self-esteem often begin to erode starting around 5th grade – I want to hug my baby tight, reaffirm who she is, and point her to the truth.

Because only the truth can help her as she wrestles with life’s big questions and finds her place in this world.

The first decade of Marie Claire’s life was major, and this next decade will be too. From age 10 to age 20, she’ll evolve from childhood to womanhood. It’s crazy and hard to fathom that these changes are even normal, because in my eyes she’ll always be the little girl who loves dress-up, playing pranks, and spraying her bedroom with Bath & Body Works.

Following are 10 things I want Marie Claire to know as she enters this next decade.

1. It’s okay to grow up at your own pace. It’s good to take your time and do what’s right for you. Our world pushes girls to the fast track. It wants you to paint your face with makeup, dress in revealing clothes, and aim to look 20 when you’re really 13.

Why? Because believing you need embellishments to look beautiful and desirable will make you buy whatever people sell. It’s a selfish ploy, and I hope you see through it. I hope you trust your instincts and remember that the best part of your appearance – the one that ultimately sets you apart – is the light that shines from within. It costs nothing, yet it’s worth everything. As Anne Lamott says, “Joy is the best makeup.”

2. Being a leader sometimes means standing alone. It means making a brave choice nobody else is making, like sticking up for the kid being teased, or avoiding a party where there’s sure to be trouble.

Kari Kampakis
Kari Kampakis
Kari Kubiszyn Kampakis is a mom of four girls, as well as an author, speaker, and blogger from Birmingham, Alabama. Her new book for moms, LOVE HER WELL: 10 WAYS TO FIND JOY AND CONNECTION WITH YOUR TEENAGE DAUGHTER, launches August 18 and can be pre-ordered through online retailers. Her two books for teen and tween girls, Liked: Whose Approval Are You Living For? and 10 Ultimate Truths Girls Should Know, have used widely across the country for youth group studies. Join Kari on FacebookTwitter, and The Girl Mom Podcast, or by visiting www.karikampakis.com.

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