“Raising Worry-Free Girls” by Sissy Goff

I’ll never forget the moment that I found out I was going to be a dad. I was on a church staff retreat in Broken Bow Oklahoma. It was an early morning, and my pastor was cooking us breakfast. My wife and I made a deal that she would tell me the moment that she found out even if I wasn’t with her. So, she called me, I walked out onto the porch of the cabin, and as I looked out over the beauty of the heavily wooded hills of Oklahoma, my wife told me, “You’re going to be a dad!” I was speechless…not because of fear or disappointment. No, I was overwhelmed with thankfulness and joy. Truly, one of the sweetest and most profound moments of my life.

I also remember when we found out the gender of the baby. My wife and I were on pins and needles as we waited for the ultrasound technician to give us the news. As he looked and looked, he turned to us to say that although the child wasn’t making it easy on him, he firmly believed it was a girl. My wife and I were overjoyed! The excitement was something I’ll never forget. This beautiful little girl made me a father! Several months later, our first-born came into the world. Her name is Ava and I love her with all of my heart. A few years later, God blessed us with another little girl named Olivia. I wish I had the space and time available to tell you how I feel about my little girls, but there aren’t enough pages in world. I truly would do anything for them.

Suffice it to say that I was interested when I saw the title of this book by Sissy Goff after hearing an excellent conference presentation by her and her team. I’ve struggled with bouts of depression and anxiety for years, and wish that I had found tools like this earlier in life to navigate my own struggles. This book provides some great wisdom from an experienced Christian counselor on what it looks like to partner with our daughters should they experience the monster of anxiety that plagues so many children today.

Here are my top 5 quotes from this helpful book:

1.“The girls I see who live with anxiety are some of the most hardworking, caring, intentional, kind, brilliant girls I know. Things matter to them. Everything matters to them, which can make life hard. And it can make it hard to know when or how to turn that kind of care off.” (33)

2.“I’m not looking to feed any mom guilt or dad guilt you might feel. It’s not your fault your daughter is struggling. Even if you have unknowingly done things that enable the worry, the important thing to focus on is growing your coping skills right alongside hers.” (81)

3.“The most anxious girls I see are often the busiest. They’re the ones who don’t have time for what we call “self-care” in my profession. These girls “can’t exercise” because of the loads of homework in their backpacks. They can’t take a bath, watch a show, or have any kind of downtime because there’s “no time” between sports practices and homework and getting in a few hours of sleep. Their schedules are overfull, and so they’re overstressed. The thing is, you are the keeper of the family schedule…or you can be, whether she likes it or not.” (100)

4.“We’re teaching kids how to hide under their desks at school in case of an intruder, but we’re not teaching them how to handle a family member who disappoints them. We’ve got lessons upon lessons on bullying prevention, but we’re not teaching them healthy conflict resolution. Maybe it’s part of why the Americas have the highest level of anxiety in the world.” (171)

5.“…your daughter will face trouble in her life. But that trouble truly can lead to hope, especially when she learns to live with the expectation that God will be with her in the midst of trouble. Worry doesn’t help. Hope does, through Christ.” (175)

I love the honesty of this book and the humility of the author. Although she is an expert, she does not give off any sense of arrogance. You can tell that she truly loves the kids she counsels and the parents that bring them. However, most importantly, you can tell that she loves Jesus.

Also, you can tell that she spent an enormous amount of time researching for this book instead of solely relying on her experience (Even though her decades of experience in the field would be plenty reason to pay attention when she speaks).

This book can be used in a preventative way, or it could be an amazing companion for parents that find themselves struggling with how to help their currently anxious child. Come for encouragement, honestly, professionalism, hope, and truth. Stay away from the book if you’ve got it all figured out. I hope this book encourages you and your spouse today as you seek to disciple your kids in the home!