Making Drastic Parenting Choices

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First of all, if you’re seeing this post entitled “Making Drastic Parenting Choices” and think that means that I consider myself some parenting guru, let’s get something straight right now: that couldn’t be further from the truth.  I am just a mom who is loving her kids fiercely while trying to figure it all out and stay sane through the ups and downs of this thing we call parenting, who isn’t afraid to share the struggles and triumphs along the way.

I guess two years into this CC and Mike blogging journey, I find myself in a unique position where I have a bit of a platform—a voice, so to speak…no matter how small it may be.  The truth is, you never know who might be listening; you never know who might need to hear what I’m about to say; you never know what mom is out there struggling, on the precipice of a hard decision and looking for some sign, some divine intervention to tell her that the choice she is about to make for her child is the right one.  So that is why I’m writing this today.  Not because I’m a parenting guru.  Lord have mercy I am anything but that.  But I am a woman who has been on a journey.  I’m a woman whose life has been defined by parents who made drastic choices.  And I am now a mom who is finding the courage to do the same for my daughter.

making drastic parenting choices mother daughter photos family beach photos what to wear Rosemary beach family photos floral wrap dress denim cold shoulder dressPhotos by Brass Penny Photography 
Maybe you’ve followed me for the last year or two, maybe you haven’t.  But most likely if you are here today, then you have seen the pretty pictures on my blog — yes I can take pretty photographs.  I logged six years as a professional photographer, after all. But life is anything but just pretty, perfectly staged photos, and I’ve shared openly about that on my blog. The truth is, I was a troubled teen.  Perhaps you didn’t know that.  Perhaps you didn’t know that my mother was almost murdered when I was ten years old.  Perhaps you didn’t know that at thirteen years old I was sullen and rebellious and troubled and angry, oh so very angry. Perhaps you didn’t know that at fourteen years old I was sneaking out, flunking out of several of my freshman classes, and experimenting with drugs and alcohol.  Perhaps you didn’t know that my life has a backstory, as does everyone’s, and it didn’t look so picture perfect at one point in time.  It looked a lot more like I had a one-way ticket on the hot mess express which was, without a doubt, going to crash and burn.

So what changed my life?  Well, it all boils down to this – My parents making drastic choices.  How so you ask? Well, I’m ready to tell a story that I’ve never told publicly on my blog today and then I’m going to answer the question that I have received more emails and direct messages about than any other thing recently – “CC, why did you choose to take Emmy out of her school and move her?”  Today, I’m ready to answer that question.  But first, I can’t answer that question without telling you about my own journey.

Like I said, I would consider myself a troubled teen. The definition below sounds about right —especially the impulsive, self-destructive and out of control behaviors part, and like the definition also says, I truly know in my heart that I was running, not walking, down a path that would lead me to develop life-long, potentially fatal, habits.

Making Drastic Choices in Parenting

So what changed that path? What redirected me to the path you see me on now? How am I living in Tulsa, Oklahoma, married to my high-school sweetheart and blogging, designing, and building at CC and Mike?  Well, I’m here because my parents made drastic choices for my life when they were prompted to do so.  I’m here because one night when I lied to my parents and left yet again, they found a tape recording of my voice on the answering machine.  You see, the answering machine kicked on and recorded me talking to my friend.  Imagine a ten-minute long recording of basically anything and everything you would never want your parents to hear.  That is what was recorded. So, when they tracked me down that night and brought me back to my dad’s church office and set a little black tape recorder on the desk, and hit play….I knew it wasn’t going to be pretty.  I remember hearing my voice.  I remember that I should feel ashamed and embarrassed as I recounted the details of me sneaking out the night before and everything I had done.  But I felt nothing.  I was dead inside.  I remember hearing my voice and thinking that I sounded like a complete stranger.  I remember not even knowing who I was anymore. Then, I remember looking up and seeing tears stream down my mother’s face.

“Tell me what to do,” she choked out. “I don’t even know what to do for you anymore.  Tell me what to do.”

There was a long pause.  I swallowed.  Then I will never forget what I said next.

“I need to get out of here.”

There was another long pause, then I saw the resolution in my mother’s eyes.  She was going to do the unthinkable. She was going to let go of her fourteen-year-old troubled, little girl.  She was going to make a drastic parenting choice.  And she did.  That moment has completely defined my life.

The next day was a blur but I want you to be completely sure of one thing — my mom never looked back.  She knew I had to leave.  She was brave. She didn’t question what she knew to be true in her heart.  God was leading, and she was going to follow, even if it meant she had to make a sacrifice and give up her daughter.  Often times, isn’t it the mother that God speaks to about what is right or wrong for her children? I would say that it is. But we have to be willing to listen, even if it’s not something we want to hear.

We packed and I was gone within a day, or at least that’s how I remember it. Like I said, it was all a bit of a blur from that moment that I told my parents I needed to leave and needed to change my environment. My parents drove me to Dallas and I moved in with a special aunt and uncle who were beyond gracious to take me in. We didn’t even know if I would get accepted into the private school that all of their children had gone to.  We just packed and got in the car. We had no plan. We just had a feeling in our hearts that it was the right thing to do. So we did it.

I look back now, and as a thirty-eight-year-old mother, I realize how drastic that choice must have seemed to many. I heard through the grapevine that the rumor mill was flying after I left.  My mother and father, the ministers of our small-town church in Southeastern Oklahoma, had to endure those rumors.  It couldn’t have been easy.  I heard just a few of them, all which were untrue, and they made me cringe or blush, 0r perhaps a bit of both. But still, my parents made the choice that needed to be made, even if others did not understand what they were doing.

Fast forward twenty-something years later and it was me who was put in that exact same position for completely different reasons.  It was me, as a mother, who felt that stirring in my heart.  It was me who had to make a drastic parenting choice.  It was me who knew that I had to think with my heart and not with my mind, for the sake of my daughter. And I’m ready to tell you that story today too.

Last May I had gone to Pawhuska to see my good friend Cyndi.  Now, Cyndi would not want me saying this because she is humble as all get out, but I’m going to say it anyway.  She is a God-send, as a friend, a business mentor, but most of all, as a mother who has been in the trenches and is willing to speak into my life in a way that only she can.  Cyndi and I had spent the day together touring PW’s Boarding House and then we went to grab a coffee before I headed back to T-town.  It was during our afternoon coffee session that she turned to me with concern in her eyes.

“How’s Emmy?”

Why is she only asking about Emmy? I remember that being my internal dialogue. My body tensed.  I wasn’t even sure why.  Looking back, I think I felt defensive because I knew in my heart that the truthful answer was, not good.

“She’s fine,” I answered, but instantly felt guilt creeping in at the dishonesty in that statement. “I mean, she has some struggles sometimes but she will toughen up and get over it and be stronger because of it.” I started backtracking.

Cyndi just looked at me. “What struggles?” she asked.

I spent the next few minutes explaining some of the struggles Emmy had faced off and on for years.  I’m not going to get into them here because, to be honest, they are too personal and it’s not my story to tell.  But I will tell you this: As a mother, I had spent five years sweeping them under the rug and saying to myself, “She’ll get over it. She just needs to toughen up and stop being so sensitive.”  I guess I believed if that was our mantra — she’ll get over it — that eventually I could will it into existence.

I finished telling Cyndi some of the things Emmy had faced over the years. I cringed as I watched her reaction and realized I had been minimizing what my daughter had felt.  Then I repeated that God-awful phrase that I never want to hear come from my lips ever again – “She’ll get over it.”  With a nice tagline added for emphases (I was, after all, trying to convince myself of the lie at this point) — “I mean, this is just life and she needs to toughen up. She will get over it.”

There was a long pause. Then I heard words I will never forget.  The words of a friend, but somehow I knew it was someone else talking through her.  They were God’s words.

But at what cost?”

BAM.  Four little words. So simple. Yet so powerful.  Isn’t that how God always talks?

At what cost Carissa? What cost will have to be paid for Emmy to just toughen up and get over it? Will it be her sweet spirit? Her kind heart? Her sensitivity to others? Her passion for creativity? What cost will have to be paid for her to just get over it?” 

My mind was reeling. A vision flashed before my eyes of Emmy as a young teenager, a college student, an adult, a young woman, a wife, a mother. And suddenly, in my heart, I knew what the cost would be.  And I knew we weren’t willing to pay it. Cyndi asked me another question — Had we ever asked Emmy if she wanted to go to a different school or consider other schooling options?  The answer was no.  We lived in a certain district and that is where she would go.  Period.  So black and white. I left my coffee date with Cyndi and my entire world was turned upside down.  That was a Tuesday night.  I got home and immediately asked Emmy if she would ever want to consider going to another school. I didn’t even get the words out of my mouth before she said YES! With far too much excitement, I might add, for a little girl who has gone to the same school since pre-K.

So, we made appointments at various private schools throughout Tulsa.  I made her shadow everywhere we went. We went to talk to a group leader at Classical Conversations and considered Homeschooling. We considered everything. The whole time,  I kept thinking she would snap out of it and decide she just wanted to stay at her large public school that she had always attended. But she didn’t.

Ultimately, Emmy made the decision based on what felt right to her, and it was a smaller private school.  We didn’t even send her back to school after the decision was made. In the middle of all these drastic changes, I asked Emmy this question:

“Emmy, can you give me one word that describes how you feel when you go to school every day?” (talking about her old school – the large, public school)

She thought for a long time before she answered.


My heart shattered into a million pieces.  Just surviveSurvival.  That’s how my baby girl had felt every single day at school.  And looking back, I knew that.  I knew that for such a long time but I was in denial. Educationally, she was thriving; but mentally, emotionally, spiritually, physically, and socially,  she was just surviving.

I want to make something clear. The school my daughter attended is an amazing school.  Educationally, it is top notch.  My daughter has had amazing educators that have influenced her life and remain a part of our lives to this day. Our boys love the school my daughter left and chose to remain. I gave them the same choice that I gave Emmy and they both wanted to stay. But going through this process made me realize how our lives mimic that of nature.  And why would they not? We were all created by the same Great Creator.  There is an ebb and flow to life, like the changing of the seasons and the tide going in and out.  During this experience, I started thinking about our lives being like plants.  Just bear with me here for a bit while I go all crazy deep CC on you for a minute.  How ridiculous is it to think that every single plant or flower or tree on this beautiful planet of ours, can thrive in the exact same soil and with the exact same lighting and water conditions?  No, every single plant is an individual.  Every single plant was created uniquely and needs a unique set of environmental circumstances to thrive.  Why would our lives be any different? Why would our children be any different?

I made the mistake of thinking that all three of my beautiful little plants could thrive in the exact same pot.  I was wrong.  So, I made a drastic choice.  I uprooted one and decided to plant her somewhere else.  You see, she was just surviving. And we can do better than that. She was born to thrive.  She is creative and brilliant and beautiful and sassy and sweet and kindhearted and unique and sensitive. And so, we are going to plant her in the soil and the best lighting and the perfect conditions for her.  Right now, we feel—no, we know— that is a different school than the one our boys go to.

So yes, we took my daughter out of school the last few weeks of school and I kept her home with me.  We worked on entrepreneurship and read books about strong female women and she played guitar every single day and she wrote.  And slowly but surely, I saw some new signs of life that I hadn’t seen in quite some time.

I know that people questioned and perhaps didn’t even understand our choices.  I know now what it feels like to be my mom, who sent a daughter three hours away to go live with an aunt. I know now what it means to make a choice that people might see as drastic.  And I’m still standing here saying to someone out there who needs to make a similar choice….

Is just surviving really enough? Is your child shriveling up and dying right before your eyes? Are you watching them day by day, being beaten down instead of nurtured. Then maybe you need to make a drastic choice too. Maybe you need to stop thinking about all the reasons why not (thinking with your mind) and think about the one reason you should  (because you know in your heart it’s the right thing to do for your child). I’m not just talking about schools you guys. I’m talking about any drastic parenting choice that needs to be made. I’m talking about that gentle nudge that only you can hear. I’m talking about thinking with your heart about what is best for your child. Who will help them if not for their parents?

CC and Mike are Making Drastic Parenting Choices.  We took our daughter out of her school for the last month and are moving her to a new school. I don’t know what Drastic Parenting Choices are tugging at your heart, but if that tug is happening, listen. 

I can say that as a young woman who is living a life that I would never have lived if my mom and dad wouldn’t have listened.  I can say that as a young woman whose entire life was changed by my parents having the courage to make drastic parenting choices.

Mom and Dad, I don’t think I’ve ever told you this but thank you. Than you for being courageous. Thank you for listening.  Thank you for making drastic parenting choices. It has made all the difference in my life.  But then, you already know that.  You saw who I was. And you see who I am. I wouldn’t be here if you wouldn’t have listened to that troubled little girl crying out for help saying, “I have to leave.” I wouldn’t be here if you wouldn’t have had the courage to listen to that voice nudging you to make a drastic choice in that moment.

making drastic parenting choices mother daughter photos family beach photos what to wear Rosemary beach family photos floral wrap dress denim cold shoulder dressI truly hope and pray that someday, my daughter will say the same thing — Mom, thank you for making drastic parenting choices. Thank you for listening.  Thank you for acting.  

This girl starts her new school today. 

I think she is brave and strong and courageous for stepping out and saying she wanted to try something new. And I guess, if I’m being honest, I feel like I was a little bit brave and strong and courageous for listening as well. Because change is hard, people.  It’s way easier to just forget that voice you hear whispering and stay exactly where you are because it’s what you know. But change is necessary. It’s oh so necessary, especially when we are talking about just surviving instead of thriving.

At Emmy’s back to school assembly for her new school the principal said these words and I wrote them down.

Often times something forces us into a season of change, but it’s THROUGH that hard season of change (and because of it) that we grow.

Gosh, I can’t wait to watch this beautiful little girl grow.

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I’m no parenting guru. I’m just a mom who loves her kids trying to figure it all out as I go. And one thing I know for sure is that drastic parenting choices can change lives. I’m living proof of that and I hope and pray she will be too.

Love you little momma. Go do your thing. I’m so dang proud to be your mom.

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  • Catherine Welsh
    Posted at 10:22h, 15 August Reply

    I read your blogs all the time but rarely comment. I am in your school district and neighborhood, and I have both my kids in a different private school than you have chosen. Is the school district we are in great for some children? Absolutely. Is the district going to work for my older child, who has an IQ through the roof with ADHD to match? Nope. And yet, I get asked every day why I live in the district and pay taxes if I have chosen private. I have a kid who is not neuro-typical, who is impulsive, and who has a heart of gold. You do what you have to do to make sure your kids thrive, and it is really no one else’s business.

    God bless you all, and wishing all your kids success, but more importantly, happiness.

    • Carissa Miller
      Posted at 10:53h, 15 August Reply

      Wow Catherine! Thanks so much for commenting. And I had no idea you read my posts and it just means the world to me that you do!! EXACTLY! Not all plants grow in the same soil. Why would children be any different?! I’ve been shocked at how many emails, messages, direct messages, etc… I have received asking why we have made the decision that we have, so I felt it was time to address it. God bless you as well. You are beautiful, intelligent, strong mother and your kids are blessed to have you in their lives!!!

    • Kelly
      Posted at 13:56h, 15 August Reply

      My son too, has a high IQ and ADHD and school has been quite difficult at times. We are not in the same district as you but a close neighbor so any advice you can give is appreciated.

  • Laura
    Posted at 10:37h, 15 August Reply

    Not sure of your reasons, but as a mom with a daughter that struggles with depression this really hit home with me. She is the best friend a person could ask for but is sensitive and when she goes through something she goes through it hard. I wish I would have listened sooner – she did very well in high school academically but I think her spirit would have fared better in a smaller, more positive environment. I had the same mantra – she needs to toughen up but I wish I would have done more to protect her spirit. Proud of you, Mama! Thanks for sharing.

    • Carissa Miller
      Posted at 10:51h, 15 August Reply

      Thank YOU for sharing. We are all in this together as mothers and this is why I wrote this post. I just felt like someone out there might need to read this. I am beyond grateful that I had a friend speak into my life in a way that I was able to hear God’s voice – at what cost. I encourage you to share your story of your sweet girl with other mommas! You never know whose life can be touched!

  • Kelsey
    Posted at 10:39h, 15 August Reply

    I absolutely cried reading this. Thank you for sharing & being so open & vulnerable with us. Your words deeply touched me. My parents are also in the ministry & we were at a church in the Tulsa area for years. My parents had to make a decision for one of my siblings & it was the hardest decision they ever had to make. People didn’t understand & still don’t. Rumors have flown & people have believed them. I don’t know if it will be a happy ending still to this day but it was the best decision for every person involved & it was what God led my parents to. I hope it helps save my siblings life emotionally. Only time will tell. Anyways so much more I could say as I also went to a private school in Tulsa but I hope and pray Metro is such a great fit for Emmy!!

    • Carissa Miller
      Posted at 10:44h, 15 August Reply

      Please share my story with them. Tell them they are courageous for making drastic choices and God is directing their paths.

  • Iliana
    Posted at 10:41h, 15 August Reply

    Wow. I’ve followed you for a bit because genuiness always flows through every word or picture. Though we belong to different religions, we really belong to the same faith and I connect with you. Thank you for your beautiful story and example of acting on your printings and being willing to do the hard. It inspires me.

    • Carissa Miller
      Posted at 10:42h, 15 August Reply

      Your words and support mean the world to me! Thank you so much!

  • Sara Milam
    Posted at 10:54h, 15 August Reply

    Thank you for sharing your story. It is inspiring and comforting… even though it made me tear up! I chose to move with my son almost three hours away two years ago so he could go to a school for preschoolers with special needs, as he has CP. The school he is at was the closest option to where we lived and early childhood intervention is so important for children with brain injuries, as the brain is mostly formed by the age of 5. My husband and I only see each other on the weekend and it has been hard. However, had we not made that very difficult choice, I’m not sure if our son would be able to talk, move, and engage the way he does today. His progress has been incredible. Judgement is real and it sucks. I see it, hear it, and feel it all the time. Change is hard. BUT Faith is good. And divine intervention always prevails. Your daughter is so very blessed to have you as her mother. I hope she has an awesome school year. Thanks again for opening your heart. I love your posts – both the pretty pictures and the stories!

    • Carissa Miller
      Posted at 15:51h, 17 August Reply

      Sara! What a beautiful, strong mother you are to your precious son. He is so blessed to have you always fighting for what is best for him!!

  • Leslie B
    Posted at 11:19h, 15 August Reply

    I lost my mom when I was only a year old so I grew up mainly with just my dad and brothers. I definitely did some things and got into trouble because I knew my dad always felt guilty for me having to grow up fast and without a mother. I took advantage of the situation. My dad put me in a private Catholic school when I started middle school (I felt it was life ending…starting a new school at that age and with kids who had been going to school together since kindergarten)! I may not have realized the sacrifices he made then to put me into a private school and thought it was unfair that my brothers still got to go to the public school but he saw something in me that I didn’t see. I let others tell me what my potential, or lack there of, was. I definitely wouldn’t have the life I have now if my dad would’ve let me talk him out of sending me there. I now have an almost 13 year old daughter and I all I want for her are all of the things I didn’t have. You look back at your struggles and think, this is just part of life. But it doesn’t have to be (lightbulb)!! Thanks for sharing. That new school is so lucky to have your precious girl. Just from following you, you can still what a bright spirit she has and now she will be able to let it shine!

    • Carissa Miller
      Posted at 15:53h, 17 August Reply

      Leslie thank you for sharing and for your kind words about our sweet daughter. I am so very sorry for the loss of your mother at such a young age and my heart breaks for you that youve had to endure that loss.

  • Elane Crosby
    Posted at 11:43h, 15 August Reply

    Your retelling of our parenting journey with you was hard to read… brought back a deep torrent of emotions I have not experienced for a long time. How I thank God for that little black tape that I was getting ready to erase and “something” stopped me just long enough to realize I needed to sit down and listen. If someone had brought that tape to me and told me they had a recording of my daughter they thought I should hear, I would have been angry and defensive and told them there was NO WAY my daughter was saying those things. So God ordained that your conversation would be captured in a way I could not deny it or explain it away.

    Thank you telling our story. It is a story of God’s faithfulness to us. A story of His provision when we trust Him enough to act.

    • Carissa Miller
      Posted at 15:54h, 17 August Reply

      Oh mom! I love you! I never knew that you almost erased the tape. How God has ordained this journey we have both been on!!! Love you so much! ANd PS….as a mother now, I”m SO sorry you had to hear that. I can’t imagine how heartbreaking it was. But look at how he’s taking that pain and using it! 🙂

  • Jamie
    Posted at 11:44h, 15 August Reply

    Oh, I wondered but never asked! I’m so. Happy you shared this. This is exactly why I keep my kiddo in private in the area. I just feel he couldnt thrive in all the large public schools in our area and he loves his so. Some kids absolutely thrive in certain situations and some don’t and you just have to trust you’re momma gut that it will all be ok! I hope she enjoys herself so much more at her new school!

    • Carissa Miller
      Posted at 15:54h, 17 August Reply

      Thank you so much! She has had the most incredible first week!

  • Lisa Gunning
    Posted at 11:55h, 15 August Reply

    Hi CC,
    I’m so amazed by your courage and the deep love and understanding that you have for your daughter. We put our son in a private Christian school from 6-12th grade, and it was the best decision we could have made for him. I love your sweet soul and Emma’s talents will be a reflection of your nurturing ways…what a blessing from God you are! Keep shining and I look forward to seeing your daughter ‘thrive ‘ !! 🙂

    • Carissa Miller
      Posted at 15:55h, 17 August Reply

      Lisa thank you for encouraging words of support! They mean the world to me!

  • Kris Larsen
    Posted at 11:59h, 15 August Reply

    I totally have a crush on your whole family!! All of you are beautiful on the inside and outside!!! You and Mike are amazing parents with some great kids!! I am 56 and those school years with kids are tough! We had to make drastic changes also just know that as long as they know you love them unconditionally and always have a you can tell me anything policy it will be good!!

    • Carissa Miller
      Posted at 15:56h, 17 August Reply

      You are too kind! And my mom always says, “Parenting – if it were going to be easy it wouldn’t have started with something called labor.:” HAHAHA! Thank you so much for following along with us and for commenting on this post. It really is so encouraging and means the world to me.

  • Brandy
    Posted at 12:09h, 15 August Reply

    So much truth spoken here! Thank you and congratulations for being amazing! I wish I had had the courage to do this for one of mine. Our spirits are tender and need nurturing as much or more than any thing else and I think this is often times missed in the raising of kids today. Bless you for being so wise and courageous, and for speaking it aloud!

    • Carissa Miller
      Posted at 15:56h, 17 August Reply

      Thank you so much Brandy!

  • Amy Boyle
    Posted at 12:10h, 15 August Reply

    CC! I feel like you just wrote my story and my daughter’s story from 2 years ago out on your blog (which sadly means this situation is probably all too common for girls)…You have done well my friend. Your daughter is going to thrive and in the end, she will remember that you were on her team NO MATTER WHAT and that is what matters…praying for her today. . Can’t wait to see her soar! XO, Amy

    • Carissa Miller
      Posted at 15:56h, 17 August Reply

      Amy, praying that sweet girl of yours is THRIVING not JUST SURVIVING! Thanks SO Much for your support!

  • Robyn
    Posted at 12:11h, 15 August Reply

    LOVE this Carissa!

    • Carissa Miller
      Posted at 15:57h, 17 August Reply

      Thank you Robyn!

  • Marguerite Steele
    Posted at 13:11h, 15 August Reply

    I cried through this post! We walked the same mile 8 years ago with my precious middle daughter, Emma. The only difference was we moved her from a smaller private school to the large public school. Our only regret was not doing it sooner. My sweet one thrived & I know Emmy will too! Proud of you CC for trusting your mama instinct. Thank you for your transparency! Looking back …8 years …Emma is thankful and sees how the Lord used all of it. The hard things made her far more compassionate. The new school allowed her to blossom. Here’s to your amazing girl and a great year!!

    • Carissa Miller
      Posted at 15:57h, 17 August Reply

      Bless you Marguerite for listening to your daughters needs! Not every plant can thrive in the same pot, that’s for sure! 🙂

  • Kenna
    Posted at 13:16h, 15 August Reply

    You are such a bold and brave mama to your precious kids. I’m so glad that Emmy has the opportunity to make a fresh start. What a blessing it is to watch our kids thrive in the right environment for them! Selfishly I’m thrilled with her decision!

    • Carissa Miller
      Posted at 15:58h, 17 August Reply

      Love you Kenna! So excited that our paths will be crossing more regularly again! Love how God has always kept us connected over the years. You are so special to me sweet friend.

  • Michal Shaw
    Posted at 13:57h, 15 August Reply

    Love you friend. So glad you listened and that both you and Emmy start a new adventure today. We moved Sam last year…one of the best parenting decisions I’ve made. Sending lots of love and prayers your way. XOXO Michal

    • Carissa Miller
      Posted at 15:58h, 17 August Reply

      Thank you sweet friend! And good for you for listening to your momma heard. Praying that sweet boy with those gorgeous eyes (I will NEVER forget those beautiful eyes of his!) is THRIVING in his new environment!

  • Melissa Parsons
    Posted at 14:53h, 15 August Reply

    Such a great post!! Thank you for your courage and transparency! Our babies were meant to thrive! So excited for this next season for your sweet girl!

    • Carissa Miller
      Posted at 15:59h, 17 August Reply

      Thank you so much Melissa! She’s had such an amazing first week – totally thriving!!

  • Melissa Embry
    Posted at 14:54h, 15 August Reply

    Wow, how I needed to hear this! Praying for Emmy to have a great year and am so thankful you shared this.

    • Carissa Miller
      Posted at 15:59h, 17 August Reply

      Thank you Melissa! always listen to your momma’s heart! It will guide the way for your sweet girl!

  • Kimberley
    Posted at 15:32h, 15 August Reply

    I appreciate you sharing the tough moments so honestly on your blog. So often , everything on the internet is posted with a beautiful filter. For those of us that are raising our children through difficult times, it can make us feel very alone. My daughter attended a very large public high school with many gifted children and the pressure was intense. She texted me all day, every day, unsure how she was going to make it through the next period. I tried working with the administration and her teachers, but they were only able to make so many accommodations because “she wasn’t showing academic need”. Say what? What about her emotional need?? I pulled her out of school without even a plan. We ended up enrolling her in a private, online program. Do my friends & family look at me worriedly that she is not socially active? absolutely. But she has found her love of learning again and she is happy. And this mama knows in my heart that we did the right thing.

    • Carissa Miller
      Posted at 16:00h, 17 August Reply

      Girlfriend…what about the emotional needs. EXACTLY> These kiddos can not succeed educationally if their emotional needs aren’t being met!!

  • Kim Campbell
    Posted at 15:47h, 15 August Reply

    I read this with tears in my eyes and then rolling down my cheeks. My sisters and I walked a similar road – all planted in the same spot for a while, but then ending in different places due to Drastic Parenting Choices (and bravery). This type of parenting is a gift and I will never forget this post for as long as I live. Hoping and praying that I’ll be able to make these types of brave choices for my kids when and if the time comes!

    • Carissa Miller
      Posted at 16:01h, 17 August Reply

      Praise God for Drastic Parenting Choices!

  • Jenny Bauer
    Posted at 17:59h, 15 August Reply

    Thank you for sharing your story. It made me cry!
    I am inspired by your courage. AND… Emmy seems like a very sweet, smart, sassy, boss girl, and she has her parents to thank for that.

    • Carissa Miller
      Posted at 16:01h, 17 August Reply

      Thank you so much for reading Jenny and for your sweet words and support!

  • Stephanie Giesen-Kath
    Posted at 19:21h, 15 August Reply

    Thank you for sharing! I hear ya on how deciding to change is. I have four kids, 13, 13, 9 & 9. We moved to a small town before my oldest twins started kindergarten. From 2nd – 5th grade, there was a lot of “im bored” i hate school, crying, etc. I also wasnt thrilled with the lack of academics and technology. Once my little twins started school and I started getting the same response and way too many tears, I knew it was time for a change. I had spent years vaguely researching other schools. After visiting many I ended choosing a school that was 40 minutes away. Very few understood and even my husband didn’t support it, but i had to follow my heart. My kids weren’t fully on board at first. I was fearful of moving my 6th graders especially. Within a month my husband ate his words and agreed how they were excelling and happy with school. They never once complained about the 40 minute each way commute and often thanked me for changing schools. We sold our home, packed up and moved closer to school last year. We are about to start our 3rd school year. Next year, my oldests start high school it is very large so it’s always possible my daughter may need a smaller school but am ready to cross that bridge if it comes. Hugs and high fives to you for listening to your heart and Emmy and doing hard things. Wishing her a wonderfully awesome year.

    • Carissa Miller
      Posted at 16:02h, 17 August Reply

      So glad you listened to your heart and made drastic choices for your babies Stephanie!

  • M Sch
    Posted at 20:22h, 15 August Reply

    It is true, you never know if what you have to say will touch a person who needs to hear it. Fifteen years ago, I would have been that person. I would have seen myself in you, saying of my own daughter, “She needs to grow a thicker skin”. We didn’t make the decision soon enough, and she has struggles to this day. I wasn’t brave enough, or strong enough, or maybe if we had this platform back then, I would have been given a nudge by a story like yours and Emmy’s. I hope someone like me is strengthened by your leap of faith, and makes a leap of their own. My prayers will be with your lovely daughter as she takes this brave step, and for you as you walk with her. Thank you for sharing this.

    • Carissa Miller
      Posted at 08:45h, 18 August Reply

      I’m so sorry that there wasn’t something, someone that helped you give that nudge fifteen years ago. I am confident that God can heal all hurts and pains and will be praying for your daughter. Thank you so much for your kind words and support.

  • Rachel Perl
    Posted at 20:56h, 15 August Reply

    Wow! What an amazing story and Mom that you are! I wish your daughter lots of luck in her new school! If I’m already commenting, I would like to tell you how much I enjoy following you on IG! You are a REAL person living a NORMAL life like everyone else with ita ups and downs. (Also, I love listening to your southern accent, me being from Brooklyn)

    P.S. Uniforms are so COOL and Emmy is Rocking It! Besides for the fact that there is no time wasted every morning with, ‘What should I wear today?’ My own daughter begins First Grade in 2 weeks and I sure am looking forward!

    • Carissa Miller
      Posted at 08:47h, 18 August Reply

      Thank you so much for commenting and it means the world to me knowing someone from Brookyln is following us – how cool!!! And we totally agree ,we are LOVING the uniforms. Now if only it would be cool for adults to wear uniforms, wouldn’t it make things so much easier – hahaha!

  • Allison
    Posted at 21:46h, 15 August Reply

    So much love for this transparency and truth! My daughter chose to go live two and a half hours from us with my parents when she was a junior in high school. We also lived in a city with one of the best public schools in our state, Texas. But because she grew up hearing about the competitiveness of this school her whole life she was fearful. We moved to this town when she was a freshman and she was so scared to go there and she begged to homeschool. I’m a teacher and was not teaching at that time so I decided to let her. She’s way too social for that so she decided she would try this new school. It was big and she had no friends. She was brave for trying, but just couldn’t fit in and find her people. She started acting out and ran away to her one friend’s house. The sheriff went and got her and brought her home. She later went to the police station and asked if she ran away if they would make her come home since she had turned 17. The police asked her why and she said “because my parents make me go to school”. At that point we gave her choices: go back to her old HS, go to private school, or go live with my parents. She chose to go live with my parents and go to the very small school that I graduated from. She had cousins there and even family members that were teachers there. Besides getting involved in a bad relationship with a boy, she thrived. She made good grades, played volleyball, made cheerleader, and graduated receiving a couple of academic awards. I’m sure I was judged for allowing my daughter to go live with her grandparents. That I was slacking as a parent for her not being under my roof. I also felt guilt for these very same reasons. I had told her the same thing as you, “toughen up”. But in the end my mom heart knew that that was selfish and prideful. If I had it all to do again, maybe I make her go to that private school whether she wanted to or not to keep her under my roof. But I can’t live in the “what if’s”.
    This is the best post I’ve read anywhere on parenting in a very long time. I hope this gets shared a million times over. Best wishes to Emmy on her school year and way to go CC and Mike! God just used you in a BIG way CC! Another example of how God uses EVERYTHING for our good.

    • Carissa Miller
      Posted at 08:51h, 18 August Reply

      Thank you so much for sharing your story Allison. So much of what you said resonated with us . The highly competitive environment of large public schools is NOT for everyone. I think sometimes as moms we just need to hear from other moms and feel encouraged and supported to make the decisions we know to be right in our heart. That’s why I wrote this post! Hopefully there are other moms out there who read it and find the courage to remove their children from environments where they are just surviving.

  • Kristen
    Posted at 22:07h, 15 August Reply

    Pure GOLD, Carissa!!!! You are an amazing woman with a story to tell… Emmy will have one too and I can’t wajt to hear it!!! Keep doing Miller life… you rock it and inspire DAILY❤️Love you guys!!!!!

    • Carissa Miller
      Posted at 08:52h, 18 August Reply

      Wow thanks so much for such kind words Kristen!

  • Melanie Beauregard
    Posted at 22:45h, 15 August Reply

    CC I think your precious one will flourish at her new school and surroundsings. She has two amazing parents and a strong willed momma as her soilder. My son, Hunter lost his beautiful precious wife after giving birth to our grandson five months ago. , Molley was the most amazing young lady and I already worry about Braddock not having his momma to be there for him in the years to come., to listen to him and how his day goes or his struggles. I just pray my son can stay strong and be a great mom/dad to our. Braddock. Mom’s are everything to little children. Molley would have been the most amazing mom, like you are to your children. God Bless you all and I hope all three of your little ones have a wonderful school year.

    • Carissa Miller
      Posted at 08:55h, 18 August Reply

      “A strong willed woman as her solder” – those words made me tear up, and smile. Thank you so much.

      I am so very sorry to hear of your loss of your beautiful daughter in law. But don’t worry about Braddock because it sounds like he has a beautiful, strong -willed grandmother to be his solder. Prayers for your family.

  • krista d.
    Posted at 23:21h, 15 August Reply

    You and your daughter are so inspiring. Keep doing what you’re doing momma! Follow those intincts.

    • Carissa Miller
      Posted at 08:56h, 18 August Reply

      Thank you so much!

  • Stephanie Harris
    Posted at 01:18h, 16 August Reply


    Thank you for sharing your story! I applaud your courage to make a change for sweet Emmy. You are right, change is never easy!
    My daughter (who is now a senior in high school) had major issues with “friends” when she was in middle school. It was a very difficult time, not only for her but for me and her dad, too. I just want to encourage you with some words that her principal said to us/her at the time that made an impact on us all.. She said when people try to tear you down, it’s because they believe you are better than them and they are trying to drag you down to their level. That actually gave my daughter something to hold on to when she faced challenges. The second thing she said to us honestly made me so upset at the time. She said to my daughter that she was going to be a much stronger person and a better person because of what she was going through. I was upset because that offered absolutely no help to her. Being her mother, I just wanted to “fix” the situation! But let me tell you, that principal was right! My daughter is one of the strongest people I know. She knows herself, she loves and trusts the Lord, she stands up for what she believes and what is right, she is kind, and has such a compassionate soul for others because of what she went through. I know that Emmy may not have faced the exact same challenges, but whatever they are I am positive that God is preparing her to handle whatever is thrown at her in the future with kindness and grace because of those challenges.
    PS…I love reading your blog and watching your posts and want you to know that you have made a positive impact in my life. My husband and son always ask who I’m watching/reading. I tell them, “Oh, it’s just my friend in Tulsa”! Lol!!
    Praying for a fabulous year for Emmy and you!

    • Carissa Miller
      Posted at 09:01h, 18 August Reply

      Stephanie, We can’t thank you enough for sharing your story. Emmy and I read every word. I LOVED the principal’s words and could not agree more. One of the things Emmy said when we were making our decision was this: “Mom it feels like there is a dogpile and everyone is always shoving each other down to try to get to the top and I’m always on the bottom.” This is exactly what you described. Girls pushing each other down because they don’t want to let others rise. I thought it was so insightful of her to see that and realize she doesn’t want to be a part of it. And as for what you said about the principal making you mad but then realizing he was right, I couldn’t agree more. I’ve told several friends that I’m not going to look back and regret that we didn’t move Emmy sooner. I know in my heart this has all happened in God’s timing and the hardships she has faced are shaping her, giving her a voice and a platform, making her stronger….God has plans for this beautiful, sweet girl and the pain she has gone through will be redeemed and used for His glory in the most beautiful way. I just know it. Thank you for following along with us and for commenting. I love hearing from my friends!!

  • Kelly Lautenbach
    Posted at 06:55h, 16 August Reply

    We pulled our daughter out of the “best” public high school in our city and sent her to a small Christian school severa hours away for a semester during her freshman year. She needed space and safety and an environment that would encourage her to do what was right. Best decision we ever made but oh so hard. Out girl is now in her late 20’s and married with 3 babies of her own. What a blessing it is to listen and move forward with what we know to be best for them. God bless you and your sweet kids. It’s hard. But it’s worth it.

  • Moriah W
    Posted at 08:06h, 16 August Reply

    I know this was a hard choice. For so many reasons I admire you as a mother, this choice included. I can understand the pain of making big changes and I hope that you know I support you and Emmie as she takes root in new soil. Your family is dear to my heart and I hope for great things for you and all your precious kiddos. Give her a hug for me!

    • Carissa Miller
      Posted at 08:53h, 18 August Reply

      When we made our choice, the one reason Emmy gave for being sad not to go back was you and Mrs. Bryant. She loved you both so much and we can’t thank you enough for being a part of her life and story! Your support means the world to us!

  • Heather Baker
    Posted at 08:08h, 16 August Reply

    Hello there! Thank you for sharing such personal details about your life! I got chills reading it and literally teared up. I too live in Tulsa, I came across your page recently on IG.

    My husband and I restore vintage homes in the midtown area, where we currently live in a 20s bungalow we love and brought back to life. It was so refreshing to hear a different perspective…that the bigger (NON-TPS schools) don’t work for everyone. Although I’m not sure we won’t move south eventually, I worry about our baby (even though we have some time to decide) if TPS will be ok for her. It makes my heart feel better to read your perspective…that even in those “bigger and better” districts, it still might not be the best fit for everyone.
    Thank you for sharing. I wish the best for you and your adorable family!

    • Carissa Miller
      Posted at 09:03h, 18 August Reply

      Hello Heather! First of all, I would love to see some of your midtown restorations. So cool. Second, so glad you read the blog and can keep it in mind while making decisions for your kids. No, the larger, “better” schools aren’t necessarily right for everyone. They are huge and highly competitive in all aspects which is wonderful for some, and terrible for others. Just know your kid and listen to your momma heart and you will do what’s right !

  • Jaci
    Posted at 08:19h, 16 August Reply

    I’m a follower on instagram. This is the first time I’ve ever read your blog. Now, I’m going to start visiting here more often. Thanks for being so honest and showing us real life.

    What an amazing act of courage and love by you and Mike. I hope Emmy has a great first day.

    • Carissa Miller
      Posted at 09:04h, 18 August Reply

      Thank you so much Jaci!

  • Vanessa Escamilla
    Posted at 10:04h, 16 August Reply

    I’ve been following you for a while now and I’m so inspired to start writing a blog. I am a mother in Deep South Texas and i cried reading for post. My two younger sons are night and day. The older of the two is sweet, kind hearted, sensitive and highly intelligent and a year ahead in school. The younger of the two is tough, hilarious, also highly intelligent but wants to be a movie super hero like right now. My 9 year old is starting 5th grade next week…it’s been a great ride with our elementary school! They both have had tremendous teachers. But I am SO afraid of junior high….he’ll be 10 starting 6th grade. I am thinking and after reading your post, I am KNOWING that I cannot let this sweet boy get trampled on in public junior high. We will be making the choice of putting him in one of the private schools here or in a charter school where he can continue to THRIVE and feel like he can be his kind hearted-self and not feel ashamed of his younger age. And by the way he is an amazing little baseball player – Allstar! Haha! We live for baseball too! Thank you for putting your voice out there…thank you for letting us know that we are not alone!

    • Carissa Miller
      Posted at 09:05h, 18 August Reply

      Vanessa I am so honored to be a part of your journey and good for you for listening to your momma heart and doing what needs to be done for your sweet boy to THRIVE. Just surviving isn’t enough!

  • ashley allen
    Posted at 11:13h, 16 August Reply

    CC I just love your heart and it takes so much courage to do what you did. Emmy is so full of life and I hope she has an absolutely wonderful time at her new school.

    • Carissa Miller
      Posted at 09:05h, 18 August Reply

      Thank you so much Ashley! She had an amazing first week!

  • Jessie Gilbert
    Posted at 14:19h, 16 August Reply

    Please excuse me while I sit in my office and cry. I’m not a mom. Not yet, anyways. But I was a little girl who felt as though she never fit. And is only now, as a 32 year old women finding her confidence and place. As a designer, I appreciate and respect your work. As a blogger, I love how your heart flows through your words. But as a mom, I see a heart of gold. Thank you for being open, real, and vulnerable! And not only for that, but for creating a community where vulnerability is welcome. Hugs, CC.

    • Carissa Miller
      Posted at 09:07h, 18 August Reply

      Jessie your words meant the world to me. I love what you said about “creating a community where vulnerability is welcome.” That is my greatest hope and desire, that sharing my journey and being vulnerable ,will somehow encourage others. Thank you so much for reading the blog!

  • karen a Sunday
    Posted at 23:25h, 16 August Reply

    Good Brave Mom, Beautiful girl, stay strong, I barely survived the teen years literally, We really have to take one day at a time and hope tomorrow gets better and this life goes fast so I pray most of it is Beautiful! stay strong!!!

    • Carissa Miller
      Posted at 09:07h, 18 August Reply

      Thank you so much Karen! We feel confident we have her in the right place and she had an amazing first week of school!

  • Sarah Coffin
    Posted at 23:19h, 28 September Reply

    My mom pulled me out of my school and I started a new one my junior year. It was the absolute best decision ever. My friends changed, my perspective changed, my whole life trajectory changed. I’ve never met you, but crazy proud of you for listening to that still, small voice.

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