Encouragement for Every Single Year of Your Child’s Life (Age 1-18)

It is finished.

We did it. 

Eighteen years of parenting and twelve years of school – completely under our belts, and the deed is done. Our daughter graduated from high school this week, and I wish I could travel back in time to my “younger-mom-self” and share these words with her.

Every single year of your child's life is a wonder! Give thanks in every season, with our guide to what to expect in yearly development and reminders for you to trust God in each stage.

Year One – Pick her up every time she cries. Don’t listen to the experts who don’t know your baby. You won’t get to hold her for very long, and her little heart needs to know you will always be there for her.

Year Two – Be patient with her. Tantrums are not forever. The world your toddler is exploring seems insurmountable at every turn, and she needs to know you are a safe place. 

Year Three – Make the whole world wait. Finger-paint every chance you get and read-aloud every book in sight. These are the things she will remember. 

Year Four – Buy lots of bandaids and keep them handy. Her brave new self wants to find out just how fast a tricycle can go. 

Year Five – Treasure your alone time with her. She’s moving into a stage of life where you will be only one of her many teachers. Always kiss her goodnight and pray for her future.

Year Six – Sit at the table with her. She’s absorbing the world around her and learning new, scary things like addition and subtraction. She needs you more than ever.

Year Seven – Pour into her heart when she wakes up scared and runs to you for reassurance – and never – ever – even in your sleep deprived moments – assume this will be how she always deals with fear. Let her know she can run to you.

Year Eight – Empathize and confess. Multiplication is from Satan himself, and she needs to know you too struggled with math. 

Year NineCut her some slack. Long division is just as evil as multiplication. So when it is the last thing she wants to do, and it feels like disrespect to you, please know that she doesn’t dislike you, just the learning disability you don’t know about yet.

Year TenRemind her how beautiful she is. The glasses help her see better, but man… they make her feel “other” around non-glasses wearing folk. 

Years eleven, twelve and thirteen See the child underneath. The slamming doors aren’t to shut you out. It’s to release all those hormones that hold her hostage and give no explanation as to why anger is their chosen form of expression. 

Years Fourteen and FifteenDon’t take your eyes off the ball. Crushes, braces, high school classes and the combination thereof make your time, your affection, and your investment all the more crucial. You are in the home-stretch now, and she’s counting on you to fight for her. 

Year Sixteen – Take a deep breath. She’s not gonna die and neither are you. Mastering driving happens like all the other skills – with practice and perseverance. She’s got this, and the Lord has you both. 

Year Seventeen – Repeat the words: “I don’t care. I care about you, but I don’t care about your ACT score or which college accepts you. I only care that you are safe, whole and following after Jesus. The rest doesn’t matter.”

Year Eighteen – Pull back your grip. Her wings need to spread. She’s as scared as you are, but it’s time. It’s what you’ve both worked so hard to accomplish. God is with you, and He will help you release your mama-hold so she can run towards her future ministry, husband, children and calling on her life. 



You can find me at www.denisemcdowell.com

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