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One Word with Teenagers, an Interview with My Daughter

| written by Rachel Pieh Jones | 3 comments

In January, I asked my 18-year old twins and my 13-year old if they would like to join me in choosing a word for 2019. The twins ignored me, their prerogative as newly-minted adults. My 13-year old was interested and mom still has some influence (I’m going to live it up for another five years, I hope).

She chose the word FREEDOM.

Recently, I interviewed her about how the year of freedom is going. We were walking our dog through Djibouti’s streets, on our way to check out a brand-new candy store.

Why did you decide to do this one-word thing with me?

The idea of picking one word for the year sounded better than a big list of New Year’s resolutions!

Why did you pick freedom?

I thought about the freedom we have in Christ and that I don’t want to be afraid to just be myself. I don’t want to feel pressure to act like other people but to be free. And (a mentor couple) wrote me a card at the end of December that had a verse about freedom in it. I can’t remember the verse anymore, but it encouraged me to not get stuck.

What are some other ways you want to experience freedom?

I don’t want to feel guilty about choices I make. I mean, I’m not going to make bad choices, mom! But I don’t want to worry about what someone will think about me.

Like peer pressure?

Yeah. I want to be free from giving in to peer pressure of how to spend my time or what book to read or what clothes to wear. Also some girls my age might stay angry for a long time about silly things, like holding grudges. I want to be free from that, too.

How has thinking about freedom as a focus for the year affected you?

I don’t think about it very often, to be honest. But when I do, it helps me to have courage. One day at school, a group of my friends gathered after lunch for a Bible study and it was my turn to lead it but I forgot to prepare! So I found courage from remembering freedom – freedom from expectations, freedom from needing to do a perfect job, freedom to trust God. And I just did it.

Is there a specific aspect of freedom that you love most right now?

I love the freedom from fear, courage. Like when God told Gideon to not be afraid and especially when he told Joshua to not be afraid. And I love thinking about freedom from people’s expectations.

How are you going to remind yourself to think about freedom all year long?

I’m going to write it on my mirror and also make a bookmark with the word on it to put in my Bible. And I’m going to talk to my friends at school about it, maybe they will pick a word, too. It isn’t too late.

❖   ❖   ❖

That’s when I told her that I had just chosen my own word in March, DECIDE. She laughed at me, which she is totally free to do.

Have you talked with your kids about One Word? I’d love to hear how if they took you up on it!


*Isn’t she great? I have to add that, as her adoring mother. I’m so thankful for the friends and mentors surrounding her. No parent is an island.

Rachel Pieh Jones writes about life at the crossroads of faith and culture. Her work is influenced by living as a foreigner in the Horn of Africa, raising three Third Culture Kids, and adventurous exploration of the natural world. She has been published in The New York Times, Runners World, Christianity Today, and more. Her next book will be released in October, 2019. Get all her stories and updates in the Stories from the Horn newsletter.

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