Episode 29: Finding Joy and Connection with our Kids Amongst the Chaos with Kari Kampakis






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Brief summary of show:


This week on the podcast, I sit down with Kari Kampakis, a bestselling author, blogger, and national speaker from Birmingham, Alabama.

Her book for moms, Love Her Well: 10 Ways to Find Joy and Connection with Your Teenage Daughter, and books for teen girls: 10 Ultimate Truths Girls Should Know andLiked: Whose Approval Are You Living For, have been used widely across the country for small groups studies. Kari’s newest book, More Than a Mom: How Prioritizing Your Wellness Helps You (and Your Family) Thrive, will be released in April 2022.



Listen in as we talk about:

  • The balance between parenting vs. friendship

  • Parenting mistakes you can correct

  • Why it’s important for us to apologize to our children

  • Tips to create more connection with your kids


Kari’s work has been featured on Today show, Today Parents, Yahoo! News, Grown & Flown, Thrive Global, Your Teen, For Every Mom, Motherly, FaithGateway, EWTN, Ann Voskamp’s blog, The Huffington Post, and other national outlets. She also hosts the Girl Mom podcast. Kari and her husband, Harry, have four daughters and a dog named Lola.


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Resources mentioned in this episode


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Podcast Highlights:


[00:04:19] Kari's top tips for building connection with your kids


[00:07:57] Why the stakes are higher for parents today


[00:09:56] Parenting vs. friendship


[00:14:29] Why it's important to admit our mistakes


[00:18:34] Why community for moms is imperative





Full transcript of episode:


[00:00:30] Natalie: Hi, everybody. You know, I talk a lot about parenting, you know why? Because it's hard. And when I ask people for feedback on topics, you always tell me you want more tips and tricks on being a parent more advice on parenting. And I think being a mom today is really harder than ever. My mom might disagree with that.

[00:00:49] I feel like we have so much more to deal with today and our kids have a lot more that's expected of them. They're expected to achieve more and just pack more into their schedules. They also have access to things that as kids, we didn't have to worry about let technology. My guest today, Kari Kampakis is a bestselling author blogger.

[00:01:08] She's also a national speaker and we're going to talk about finding joy and connection with your kids. Also making mistakes and avoid. Um, How to balance being your child's best friend with being a parent, it's all so important. And I just know that you're going to love this conversation. You're going to learn from this conversation.

[00:01:26] So here's my interview with Carrie. Carrie is joining me now. And most of my listeners know that I have three kids, two daughters, and a son and Carrie, I know you've written a lot about this topic. I love your podcast as well. And I want to talk today about finding joy and connection with our kids because in all the chaos, sometimes that gets forgot.

[00:01:50] Kari: Right. And I think that, you know, I, I really write for parents of teenagers right now just because that's the season of life I'm in. And I don't know about your experience, but I think what happened with me and that's pretty common with families is that, you know, your toddlers and babies. Pretty hard season of life.

[00:02:07] And then your kids get older. They're about seven or eight and you hit that sweet spot of parenting. And I remember that say's enough that hear the things about teenagers, about hormones and beds. And I didn't really believe it because the kids were so affectionate. They loved being with me, you know, just you're like, this is great.

[00:02:22] And then about 11 or 12, sometimes we fill our kids just pulling away a little bit, or just acting a little different in their search for independence. And then as that, you know, the teenage. It can really throw us for a loop as parents. And it's totally normal, but as parents we're like, we miss that affection.

[00:02:37] We miss that connection that we had with our younger child. And I know what happened with me was I was trying to use the same strategies I used when they were little and it just wasn't working. So I had to really, it was a journey for me, just finding new approaches, to connect with my teenage girls and try to be part of their world at a time where, you know, they were expanding their world and wanting to be with their friends, but also wanting some family connections.

[00:02:58] I

[00:02:59] Natalie: can relate to that in so many ways, because toddlerhood is difficult. But after going through the teenage years, I would go back to changing diapers and having

[00:03:07] Kari: a toddler. And I

[00:03:10] Natalie: do find that it's a different season. We have a struggle in every season, but the teenage years, at least to me, it feels like the stakes are so much.

[00:03:21] Kari: Yes, that's exactly it. And I was talking to somebody yesterday that especially, I don't know why the birthdays are always the markers for me, but when my daughters turned 15, 16, 17, I have this 18 number in my head and I'm thinking I only have two more years with them here at home. I have one more year with him here at home.

[00:03:39] And you just feel like you have to cram everything in before. Launch into the world. And I think as parents, we can really just focus so much on that and thinking of all the lessons we want to teach them before they leave that we're really not making that emotional connection with them. And just building that relationship, that's going to be so important, not only during the teenage years, but also as they leave home.

[00:03:58] Natalie: I'd like to get some tips from you and with four daughters. And how many books have you written on this? I've

[00:04:03] Kari: written two books for teen girls and a book for moms with 10 girls, and then a new book for moms that will come out in April.

[00:04:09] Natalie: Oh, I can't wait. Okay. I wanna hear more about that in just a moment, but let's go, let's go straight to tips.

[00:04:14] Let's get straight to that connection. That joy, how to get through it. Take it

[00:04:19] Kari: away. You know, the number one thing I've learned is that we can't take it personally and we have to be a little bit prepared for rejection and just know that I know my mistake with my teenagers is when they did start acting like teenagers are fitting the stereotype out there having this moments or seasons, I would take it personally.

[00:04:36] And if they got moody, I would get moody back. And that was really making it about me. One of the good things about doing the work that I do for teenage girls is that you just learned that they are struggling with so much internally that they're not sitting there thinking, how can I have a close relationship with my mother or father?

[00:04:51] That's just not on their radar. They're not intentionally trying to be heartful. And yes, we do have to teach them how to be respectful when we're having arguments or conflict. But, you know, really they're just juggling with their bodies are changing. Their maids are changing. A psychologist once told me that the, that the part of your brain that interprets your emotions is behind your emotions themselves.

[00:05:10] So I think that sometimes they're experiencing these big emotions and these big feelings, but they can't interpret them yet. Like I'm anger free and I don't know why, or I'm sad and I don't really know why. So there's just so much inner turmoil. And then on top of that social media, Friendship issues, bullying everything else that just our teenagers are dealing with today, they're wrestling with inside.

[00:05:30] And so I think so much what we see as parents is not really an effective what we're doing, but basically with what they're struggling with. And so that really can lead to some conflict between parents and teenagers, because I made that mistake, you know, you know, she was just being moody. I'm like, I'm going to put this kid in her.

[00:05:45] You know, like we're gonna, you know, I'm going to dig my heels in. I'm going to show her here's the balls here. But that approach maybe worked when they were younger, but as for teenagers, it really was just increasing the Gulf between us. And we were just fighting all the time. And she went to my oldest, went to school one day.

[00:05:59] She was in eighth grade and I just burst into tears. I'm just crying in my closet. And I was like, I've just, something's not right here. You know, I'm the adult in this relationship. And I told my husband, I'm really struggling with how to parent a teenager, but also love a teenager at the same time. and that really led me on this five-year journey of like I could, what does that look like?

[00:06:18] How can I still love them, but also parent them and try to correct those behaviors and attitudes that I don't like. And what I basically realized was that if we want to have a voice in our teenagers lives, we've got to have a relationship because as a friend of mine put it as our kids get older, we go from a position of power to position of influence this.

[00:06:37] But we're not going to have influence if they don't want to listen to us. If we don't have a relationship, if we're only trying to give them life lessons, you know, they, they're smart enough to know who likes them, who sees the good in them. And so I think that we've got to remember that if they're not getting that from us at home and they're going to find it elsewhere in the world, and they might find somebody else to be that influence in their life or that, that primary voice in the.

[00:06:59] So that's kind of, the trick is how to balance, like I said, parenting, parenting them, but also loving them and building that relationship. That is

[00:07:06] Natalie: so good. I love that that we go from position of power to position of influence. And I don't know about you, but I think many people, our generation with teenage kids now, like I was just parented different.

[00:07:19] And I think, and I, and I always thought, oh, I'm going to be a pretty strict parent. And then I turned out to not be as strict, but then I kind of go back to, oh no, I just need to be strict. And I like you to said that balance of, I want to love them, but I need to give them boundaries. I know they need boundaries, but I want them to have a relationship with me and not push me away.

[00:07:40] And it's just this, I don't know. We're just in a different place than our parents were. And I think a lot of that. What they're involved with. We didn't have social media. We didn't have the influence of that. We didn't have as much technology. We didn't have cell phones. We didn't have all of that. Right.

[00:07:56] Right, right. And you talked

[00:07:57] Kari: earlier about the stakes span higher. And I do think for parents today, and this is why it's so scary on our court is that. The stakes are higher. If there's something going on with our teenagers that we don't know about, that there's so much that they can be lost in or involved in online that we have no idea.

[00:08:13] And so it really is important to have that relationship, maybe even more so than it was when we were growing up in the eighties or the nineties early two thousands, because there's a lot more. I guess there's a lot more trouble than it that your net, or just, there's a lot more dangerous that can be easily accessed, whether it's online or different places.

[00:08:30] And so it's really important for us as parents just to keep a pulse on their lives and just to kind of know them well enough to say, you know, something's not right with her. You know, she's not acting like herself and to not take it personally, because a lot of times it's not, it's not about us. It's something that they're going through.

[00:08:45] And to really, you know, just kind of, sometimes that's pray about it, you know, pray before I speak or just really think what's a, what's a backdoor way. I can have this conversation or just really waiting for the right time to have a conversation. That was another mistake I made. I mean, sometimes I'm like, I've got five minutes a year.

[00:09:00] We're going to have this conversation. And it does not go over well because they're grumpy or hungry or not in the mood to talk and it just falls flat. And so sometimes we've just got to know what conversations we want to have, but then just wait for the right opportunity to have.

[00:09:14] Natalie: Oh, tip number one time.

[00:09:17] Everything. I've seen that even with my younger one timing is everything that you have to know. It's intuition too. As a parent, this feels like a good time or they opened the door. So now I'm going to go through it, you know, they're listening or they're engaged or whatever, whatever the case is.

[00:09:33] Let's talk about that balance of parenting versus friendship. I am fortunate to have great friendship with my older daughter. Who's 20, almost 21 and my 16 year old daughter. But there are times when I have to step back and my husband and I say, okay, this is the parent moment, not the friendship moment.

[00:09:52] And that's hard because we want them to trust us as friends.

[00:09:56] Kari: Right. I think that's so important. And that is, I think that's a common struggle for people who are trying to be intentional parents in this generation. You know, one quote, I always go back to. It was made by a youth pastor here in our community, but he said it was a parenting seminar wetsuit.

[00:10:11] And he said, we're not parenting for our 16 year old to like us we're parenting for our 40 year old to respect us. And I just really keep that in mind because I have, I have so many friends who went through hard things as teenagers and it might've been their parents divorced. And so they'll say, you know, when I was 16, I blamed my dad.

[00:10:28] 'cause you know, of whatever, whatever reason, but now that I'm 40 and I see the bigger picture and I realize how much strength it took for them not to bad talk the other parent, or, you know, they just see the situation differently because they're just smarter and their brains in a different place. And so I think that's really important for us to remember as parents that sometimes we're going to make decisions that they don't like, or that they don't understand, or they, that they might even fight us on.

[00:10:52] But that's why we can't be living for our child's approval. You know, we, we have an adult brain and they don't yet their brain's not fully developed until what I just said, like 25. And so a lot of decisions we make, they're not going to understand. And I've even told my girls that before, like, I know you don't understand this now.

[00:11:08] I promise I'm making this decision out of love. I hope that one day you will understand it. But, you know, I was talking to a woman yesterday. This is just an example. And she said she was pretty strict on video. With her, her boys were in high school and of course they fought her on it because their friends had a lot more hours online and all of that.

[00:11:25] But she goes, now that they're in college, they thanked me because they've seen how a lot of their friends are addicted to video games. And a lot of them are not making their grades or they're failing out of school because they're on their video games all day and said they see it just from a different perspective, even just a few years later after high school.

[00:11:41] And so I think that's, you know, as parents, we want to pick her up. But there really are some, some lines we have to draw because you know, the way I look at it, if we're not giving them those boundaries, who will, you know, if we're not being their mom or being their father, then who's going to play that role.

[00:11:54] Nobody else will

[00:11:55] Natalie: take that step back in the, in the heat of the moment when you're trying to decide parent or friend, and I'm going to think, what do I want them to think when they're 40? What do I want them to thank me for when they're 40?

[00:12:08] Kari: Because that it's the

[00:12:09] Natalie: heat of those modes. When it's hard to be the parent when you just want them to love you and get that approval.

[00:12:16] So let's talk about parenting mistakes. I know you've written a lot about this. I'll raise my hand. I've made a million of them. I still do to this day, but we all do the best we can. What can we learn from our mistakes or what maybe mistakes can you prevent us from making.

[00:12:33] Kari: Yes. You know, it's funny. I had coffee with some young moms recently.

[00:12:36] They were just had babies in their labs and they were so scared to make mistakes. And I remembered myself at that age. They're so scared to do something wrong. And I was like, I hate to tell you, but you're going to make lots of mistakes and it's okay. That. You know, God is good. He can bring good from any situation.

[00:12:52] He can restore a lot of bad situations, but you know, I've learned not to be so scared of my mistakes because sometimes we're just doing the best that we can with what we know at the time. Yeah. Probably the best example is the book that I've released last August. It's called love her whale. 10 ways to fund joint connection with your teenage daughter.

[00:13:07] But I'll start that book as you know, with crown on the floor of my closet because. You know, my daughter and I just argued again before school and there that something is wrong, you know, it was my pride getting in the way, but I didn't quite realize that yet, but I was writing books for teen girls at the time.

[00:13:21] And so I remember having that rock bottom breakdown moment, thinking I don't want anybody to ever know about what's happening in my house right now. This is totally undermining any credibility I have as a writer for teenage girls. And my oldest daughter was only 13 at the time. But the fact that five years later, I took that story.

[00:13:38] And it's the opening story of a book that I'm not scared for people to read just to be out there in online or in published form. I think that's such a Testament how God can use our mistakes to bring good from them and to help others because that's, that's the number one thing moms. Tell me about the book when they read it at the, I was crying on the first page ever light to that story.

[00:13:58] Because that's where I am right now. And it gives them hope that that might not be where they are two years from now or five years from now. So I'm just really learning from our mistakes and it's something else I think is really important is the, is the importance of us apologizing to our children. And that was something I've learned.

[00:14:14] I always felt like having four daughters, I had to be this perfect role model. And, you know, I couldn't, I couldn't admit my mistakes because that would make me lose credits. Well, you know, that might work when they're little, but then as they get older, they know when you're making a mistake or they know when you're the one that's wrong.

[00:14:29] So when you're not admitting that your mistake, then it's just increasing that Gulf between you. So that really changed my relationship with my girls when I said, you know, I should have handled that differently with you this morning. I lost my temper. I'm sorry. And talk about diffusing the situation. And, and I think also too, that there are girls are growing up in a world that they just see perfection all around them.

[00:14:50] They, they, they are scared to death to fail. And so as parents, we shouldn't be so scared of our failures and like, we should really talk openly about it. Like I failed to be a good friend today, or I fail to remember that. To pick you up on time, or I failed in this way and just to make them help, let them see our humanity and those small ways so that they're not so ashamed of those human moments that they have.

[00:15:11] And they also can say, well, I failed here, but I'm going to work on this and try to do better.

[00:15:16] Natalie: Following it up with that, but I'm going to, I'm going to work harder. I'm going to do better next time, because I learned from that. So w how do your girls feel about this four girls? One in college, right.

[00:15:28] And how old is

[00:15:28] Kari: your youngest? And my youngest is 11.

[00:15:30] Natalie: I have 11 year old to mine's a son. So many of these things, by the way, I know you write for teenage girls, but a lot of it really does apply. But, you know, 95% of it applies to breweries as

[00:15:43] Kari: well. I'm finding that.

[00:15:45] Natalie: So how do your girls feel about you writing about teenage girls, especially when it comes to telling stories like a million things pop up in my mind here on this podcast, when I use my kids as examples, and then I have to step back and say, they might not want me to use them as examples.

[00:16:01] So I get approval for that. But I also want to make it very well known. I'm a mom like everyone else going through the same things. Everyone else is going.

[00:16:11] Kari: Right. And that's a great question. And I really had to, I really had to decide that early on when I started blogging six or seven years ago, and you know, there've been several things that we've gone through.

[00:16:21] I've gone through with my daughters that I know this would make a great story. This would probably go viral. It could get a lot of attention, but it would probably part my relationship with my daughter. And I also asked, saw this. Open the internet and social media came about it, basically. It was something like all these kids that we're writing about today are going to be adults one day.

[00:16:39] And they're going to be able to write about us. Like one day the table. They will be a time. Exactly. It's not like, you know, we're, if we're just writing whatever about them. Let's do the same thing about us one day. And so I really do try to just be very careful about what I share and if it is a story that I think might embarrass them, I'll get approval.

[00:16:56] You know, most of the time they're okay with it. We're not just the stories that asked to share. Occasionally there'll be something like, no, I did not want you to use that. And that. But the good thing about my work is it Everett for teenage girls first. And so I did a lot of traveling and speaking to moms with that and just having four daughters, I know a ton of moms from that.

[00:17:14] Some always getting materials from so many different places. Sometimes it's moms that I know sometimes that's moms I meet on the road. And so I can really share a lot of stories without sharing our personal stories. and for the most part, when I'm writing for parents, I try to write more about like what I'm doing wrong or what I'm learning as a mother.

[00:17:31] Rather than what my kids are doing wrong. I try to make it more about me and my journey rather than focusing the spotlight on them. But, but you're right. It is, it is tricky. And I have to be careful because I don't ever want to jeopardize my relationship with them. You know, what

[00:17:45] Natalie: it leads to though for me is the importance of friends and mentors and groups, girlfriends whatever that might be, that we shouldn't go through these things.

[00:17:57] Right. A parenting issue or anything else that being alone in those difficult times, it's really, really hard. And knowing that other people, like you said, you didn't want anybody to know in the beginning that you were in your closet crying, but having someone there with you and walking you through that and feeling vulnerable enough to reach out to someone can be very powerful.

[00:18:20] Kari: Yes. I agree. A hundred percent. I just think that we are meant to do life together and we're not meant to struggle alone. And there's such beauty and so much can happen when we do bring our struggles to light. And obviously it has to be with the right people and, you know, and that's one thing I try to do with my books.

[00:18:34] I really encourage moms. I think the real work happens in a small group, you know, when you're studying it with the people face to face. And I'm hoping that, you know, the stories that you and I share that maybe it's just a launching pad for other people to get. Okay, this, I heard this on a podcast today, or I read this in a book and now somebody shared this vulnerable story and it might lead somebody else to share their story that relates to that.

[00:18:55] And it's really just a conversation starter that takes, it takes a conversation to a deeper direction that might've obviously happened.

[00:19:02] Natalie: Yeah, I agree. Well, I really appreciate your expertise and I want to get your book information and. So on and, and just a moment, but I have a couple of questions I like to ask of people to learn a little bit more from them.

[00:19:14] And the first question I like to ask is you're busy mom, four kids. You're an author. You run your blog. How do you, or what tip would you have for productivity, your favorite tool for productive.

[00:19:26] Kari: I would say my two favorite tools, it's hard to pick one is, and this is something I think that just has come with age is to expect a little bit less of myself because you're right.

[00:19:34] I mean, even now with what I'm doing, there's so much more required of a writer than six years ago when my first book released, because now there's podcasts and social media on top of writing the book and doing speeches and things like that. And so I used to just try to do it all at one time. And now I'm like, no, I can do this many speaking.

[00:19:51] Or this week, I'm going to focus on these articles and I'm going to be like Phil accomplished, even though I might be accomplishing a little bit less each day, I'm saving some energy for my family. And another thing is to really, like we talked about earlier, have seasons for things. And that has helped me just to kind of cut things off.

[00:20:07] And so. An example is when my first book came out, I had all these speaking events and I just booked whatever came my way. And I was also writing my second book and I talked to one of my writer, friends. I'm like, how in the world are you juggling back to this, this, these things it's so hard. And she said, I have seasons.

[00:20:22] If I'm in a writing season, I'm not speaking. And if I'm in a speaking season, I'm not writing. And that was such common sense, but it was really enlightening to me like, oh, I never considered that as an option. And so with my second book, I learned to do that. I'm like when I'm after the book launches, I'm not writing anything.

[00:20:38] I'm in a speaking season, I'm doing podcasts and all of that. And also knowing that I know that that's a busy season, that six weeks after a book comes out. And so taking a break after. I know a lot of writers that will do that because there's so much energy energy that goes into writing a book and and, and launching it to that, you need that time to regroup and reset and really leaving an open space for

[00:20:59] Natalie: that.

[00:20:59] What I love about that, I think everyone can apply that to their life. For instance, the first week of school is crazy. Everybody's trying to figure out their new routines and our, maybe it's the first month of school, but to give ourselves enough grace to say, This is going to be busy. I'm not doing coffee or lunches or anything until, you know, for the first two weeks of school, but to like, think about that ahead of time and give yourself that season to just settle in, let everybody get their ducks in order.

[00:21:29] And then, but to come, I had another podcast guest call that compartmentalizing, and I'm just going to have that compartment for now and this one for now. And I, I love that I'm going to need to do more of.

[00:21:40] Kari: Yeah. And I as did it, when my daughter went down day, my daughter, you know, she was graduating last may.

[00:21:44] And so when my editor, so that's all, I want to get my manuscript to you. You know, by the end of April, because I'm taking the home at the may and June off, just to kind of focus on getting her ready for college and enjoying the last first senior year. And I was able to enjoy that month more because I didn't, I wasn't trying to multitask too many.

[00:22:00] Yeah. And try to make everybody else happy. Exactly. Okay.

[00:22:04] Natalie: And then my second question that I like to ask, and I'm really interested in this because I don't know when you started writing or your background, but when did you realize your purpose or are you still figuring that out?

[00:22:15] Kari: Oh, that's a good question.

[00:22:16] I think I'm still figuring that out. I mean, I would say probably my first sense of like, oh, wow, this is why I'm here. It was probably the day that my first daughter was born. Just becoming a mom. I mean, I think that just instilled in me a sense of purpose. Like I'd never felt before. And um, little did I know I'd have three more daughters after that is.

[00:22:33] I really just felt like I just, that was my passion, my daughters. And then I also love to write and it all kind of came together as I turned 40 and. It past just started crossing. And I started writing about teenage girls and raising girls, and it just led to some writing opportunities like releasing a book.

[00:22:49] So it definitely happened for me later in life. Which I'm glad now, but it took a long time to get there.

[00:22:55] Natalie: I love hearing stories like that in, in your forties that you, you figured that out. And a lot of us still are. I mean, I changed my career path completely and I'm loving it and it's a hard thing for people.

[00:23:06] To hear stories like yours and to use that as a launching pad to say, I can still, I can still do something different. Right. Right. Okay. Where can people find you and learn more about.

[00:23:16] Kari: Okay. I'm on Instagram at Carrie compactus on Facebook at Carrie Kim pack rider. I have a Twitter account, but I don't, I don't tweet that much.

[00:23:26] And and then I have a website, Carrie came back and stopped com and then my books can be found on Amazon and everywhere books are sold.

[00:23:32] Natalie: And then I will link those books in the show notes. I'm really excited for the new one. And that's coming out in this.

[00:23:39] Kari: Yes, April. Terrific.

[00:23:41] Natalie: Well, best of luck with that, Carrie, thank you so much for taking the time to join me and I'll be following you and all that you do and love to your girls

[00:23:48] Kari: as well.

[00:23:49] Thank you, Natalie.







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