| from Lauren Roman |

“Grieve what isn’t, accept what is” – I recently heard Dr. Kathy say this in a podcast about the 5 Core Needs. My brain immediately connected that concept to the topic I’ve had mentally marinating for this blog, as if it’s a key ingredient my recipe was missing. Grieving is cathartic, it releases the pain of unmet expectations. When we choose the perspective of acceptance, it becomes a new filter that changes our perception of the situation. 

Acceptance changes everything. That’s true for everyone, parents and kids alike. The way you accept and love your children – how you express and demonstrate love and acceptance – will have a profound impact on them and generations to come. 

That’s not hyperbole. It’s truth from the heart of a parent-pleasing adult daughter with the benefit of hindsight, a dedicated Jesus-follower continually growing in wisdom, and a formerly clinically depressed compulsive overeater who has learned a lot from good therapy over the years. 

God has delivered me in some areas, while others require ongoing management through the use of various God-given resources. In every area, most of what I’ve learned has come through life experience, a.k.a. “the hard way.” Every time I speak or write, especially to youth or parents like you, my hope is to help you learn from my life lessons rather than your own personal pain – a worthwhile pursuit for us both!  

Identity is one of our Core Needs as humans, it’s foundational to every aspect of our lives. For most of my life, my identity was dependent on the approval and praise of my parents. I sought approval and praise from any respected authority figure… but I didn’t seek it from my parents, I lived for it. It was the crux of who I was and who I wanted to be: achiever, pleaser, good girl.

Some kids hardly ever need punishment! A disapproving look is enough for the unacceptable behavior to immediately cease and desist. I was in that category. Just the thought of disappointing my parents was enough motivation to keep me on the “path of righteousness.” 

At least, it was enough… until my senior year, when I finally hit my teenage rebellion. (I was always young for my class, usually scholastically ahead and socially/hormonally way behind!) For the first time, I really cared about the opinions of my peers. Especially one boy in particular.

He became my first boyfriend. There were some red flags – he had a bad temper, he didn’t treat me with respect in front of our friends – but I was so excited to finally have a boyfriend, it was easy to overlook those. Also, I was very into the physical relationship thanks to my belatedly raging hormones. They easily displaced objective thought and rendered red flags meaningless.

My parents still thought I was Little Miss Perfect, so we never had “the talk.” No authority figure was speaking into my life about the importance of saving intimacy for marriage. I was free to draw my own conclusions based on the influences of my peers, society, and the aforementioned hormones. Likewise, you can draw your own conclusions about my conclusions. (After all, he said he loved me… and I thought I loved him… so that made it OK, right?) Suffice it to say: sex is easily justifiable in the teenage brain.

We both went on to the University of Virginia, as did much of our graduating class in Northern VA. Continuing our relationship was a convenient and comfortable fringe benefit. It was actually pretty clear by then, there was plenty to not like about this boy… but sexual blinders were firmly in place. 

I worked my way to a 4.0 GPA my second semester and was accepted into UVA’s prestigious Echols Scholars program – I was quite proud of myself! Until the day I took a pregnancy test and it was positive. I was devastated. I felt like a statistic – pregnant at 18?! How could I let this happen? I had never felt so stupid in my entire overachieving life. 

I was desperate for help. I didn’t realize that help would change the course of my life…

[Part II will be posted Monday, August 31]

Lauren Roman is an enthusiastic encourager, creative communicator and truth teller who captivates audiences of all kinds. Her eclectic career began as an actress in her teens (ABC’s “All My Children”) and now encompasses speaking, singing and writing – all to inspire others toward true identity and counter-cultural freedom in Christ. As Lauren shares from her own life with bold transparency, emotion, humor and humility, interweaving practical biblical insights, hearts are engaged and stirred to change. Dr. Kathy is excited to welcome her as an Associate Writer and Speaker for Celebrate Kids, Inc.

Lauren keynotes live and virtual events for pro-life, women’s and youth ministries throughout the US and beyond – for more information, visit: laurenroman.com