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Although these three parts are sequential, feel free to roam throughout the book. In Part One, we include information about your daughter's physical, spiritual, and emotional development at each of the four stages of development. The more preventive parent may read the entire book from cover to cover. Another parent may only read the chapters that pertain to his or her daughter. We would encourage you to do whatever feels most helpful to you.

Parts Two and Three, however, are helpful for any adult in the life of a girl. If your daughter is young, those sections will give you the foresight to know what to expect and the wisdom to handle it. If she's in middle or high school, you'll get a glimpse into all that she's not talking about: who she is, what she's thinking, and how you can help. We suggest reading these sections thoroughly.

You may be surprised to find not only your daughter but yourself in these pages. We hope you do. In counseling girls, we find the parents are just as much a part of the process as the girls themselves. Raising Girls explores the same principle. We want to provide practical and insightful tools as you raise your daughter, and we want to give you the encouragement and reassurance that helps you grow right alongside her.

We are blessed to be able to do this work year round. As counselors, we have a unique opportunity to have a voice in the lives of both the children and parents that walk through the doors of Daystar Counseling Ministries.

As children grow, the voices in their lives change in intensity. Usually the parental voices become quieter as other voices become louder. We say on a regular basis that, at Daystar, we are simply a new voice. We often tell children and adolescents the same things their parents have told them, but we are a different voice and are heard a little more loudly because of it.

We believe that parents need to hear other voices as well. Parenting is a challenging, delightful, heart-wrenching journey that can feel profoundly overwhelming and lonely at times. Parents need guides who understand the world of their children. These guides are much more effective when they have earned the trust of a child who will speak directly and honestly to them. We have the honor of being these guides within our community at Daystar.

Basically, we have a foot in the worlds of both parents and their children.

Melissa has been caring for children and adolescents since she was sixteen, when she first became a youth director. That makes almost forty years of loving, encouraging, and disrupting the lives of kids. Sissy has done the same, particularly with girls, for the past thirteen years. Combined, we see approximately fifty children and adolescents per week. Mathematically speaking, we have been able to have a voice in the lives of more than ten thousand children and adolescents—between the two of us.

This effectiveness would simply not be possible if we each had our own families. Because of our place in life, we are able to spend our summers with the children and adolescents that we counsel—and we are able to stand between the children and parents who come into our offices. Kids relate to us because we're not parents. Parents relate to us because we're adults and have spent years working with children and adolescents.

We believe our place in life works to our benefit. It gives our collective voice a definite credibility. We know what is going on in the lives of girls from having listened to the girls themselves— and a lot of them—and we know the struggles and joys of parenting because we sit with weary, concerned parents day in and day out.

You may be one of those weary and concerned parents. But we know without a doubt that God has specifically and purposefully chosen you to raise the girl you love. He has chosen you — precisely where you are and who you are—and not some perfected image of yourself. If you were a perfect parent, you would expect a perfect daughter—and that would cancel out any uniqueness contained within either one of you.

Therein lies the importance of this book. It is a journey into the hearts of girls, a journey that takes you through the world around her to the depths of what is happening inside her. It is designed to equip you with a voice to call out who God has uniquely created her to be.

it is our privilege to guide you in this process of raising girls. As you read, we hope you will ponder, wrestle, laugh, and discover the unique identity God has given your daughter . . . and maybe even a little more of the identity he has given you.

PART ONE

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CHAPTER 1

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