Sometimes I feel like I am this really stellar parent who has it all together all the time. Okay, I never feel like that. Lets face it, I don’t have all the answers, and unfortunately, although I would like to take tears and heartbreak away from my girls, I know this is all part of their growing up and dealing with the complexities and challenges of life. There are some journeys I can travel with them and there are some they must go alone. But I’d at least like to arm my girls with some hopefully wonderful insights to take on the road of life.
Looking forward into the not too distant future (my oldest just turned 14!!!), if I was to come up with a list of what my girls should know by the time they are 15, it would be the following.
- I will never be your best friend.
I will never be your best friend. I am so much more that that. I am your greatest supporter, your biggest advocate, and I’ve loved you since the moment you were born. That will never change, no matter what you say or do. I will never give up on you, abandon you, or forget about you. However, I am your parent and I will act like it. You may not always like it so try to remember how much I love you and that my love is sometimes shown through discipline and years of experience.
- Think for yourself, that’s why you have your own brain.
As a parent, I may try to guide and influence you when you struggle to make decisions that I believe are in your best interest. But I do want you to think for yourself, to use your brain more, make decisions that are right for you instead of caving in to peer pressure, and going against your better judgment and willpower. Hopefully I have established a firm and loving christian foundation for you to guide you in making those tough decisions. Easier said than done, I know.
- You may have 99 problems, but your mom ain’t one.
You are going to have problems. Life will not seem fair at times and you will face many trials. Try to focus on the problem and not the person who created the problem in the first place. That way, it is easier to leave emotions out of the problem. The problem loses some of its complexity and it becomes more manageable. Go to God in prayer first, go to wise counsel for advice, and if any problem still seems insurmountable, I am here for you..
- Be responsible
It take guts to own up and take responsibility when you mess up. Even as adults we still struggle with it, and believe me there are some adults who never admit they are wrong. Please do not be one of these people. It is not the end of the world. It is just another lesson in life to learn from and move on. Say you are sorry and mean it. Hopefully you see my example as I say sorry to you kids for mistakes that I have made.
This reminds me of a saying I heard recently: “I’ve learned so much from my mistakes, I am thinking of making a few more.” We can’t make anything valuable without making mistakes. Not a painting, not a relationship, not a career — not a life. If you wait until you have it all figured out to try, you will be waiting forever. I still don’t have it all figured out, but I keep at it. Our mistakes aren’t failures; they’re how we learn.
- Remember what you are good at.
Success means different things to different people. Create your own personal success story knowing what you are good at, what you want to be better at, and what your passions are! Above all, you are good at so many things. If you ever are in doubt, come ask me and I will be an encouragement in what I know you are and can be. If you spend your life trying to define yourself by what someone else loves, you’re going to be miserable. Try things, try everything. See what makes your heart swell and then go do it. Find out everything you can about it. Find other people who love it too. If you waste time pretending to like something because other people you think are cool like it, you’re going to end up with the wrong people in your life. Love what you love and be yourself. You will be genuinely happy that way.
- You are unique. Yes, there is only one of you.
Do you know how awesome that is? Think of the billions of people in this world and yet you stand unique, a one of a kind. And guess what? God made you unique on purpose. He knows and loves you exactly as He made you. Strive to remember that you are not me. You are not your sister. You are not your best friend. Don’t try to be someone else. Trust me, I don’t want you to be me. I will try to be a positive role model for you, but I am not perfect either. This is your life, please live it fully, joyfully and in the best way that celebrates everything that is wonderful about you.
- Let your voice be heard, but in the right way.
The power of words can heal, harm, uplift, and inspire. I could go on and on, but it really comes down to this: Let your voice be heard, but in the right way. Say what needs to be said but do it in such a way that it is tactful, considerate, kind, and never with anger. There are so many ways to communicate and let your thoughts and feelings be known. Just because you have a voice doesn’t mean it should be used to argue or voice every thought. Choose wisely my child. Think before you speak.
- There is a difference between romance and a relationship.
I know you may not be ready to talk about it now (or maybe I am not ready to talk about it — ever) but I’ll say it anyway. Sex is simply the physical acting out of an expression of love. God intended sex for marriage. In a marriage, there should be mutual respect, healthy interest, patience, love, kindness, consideration, and of keeping your relationship exclusive and to yourselves only. I hope this makes sense to you and it will save you from being badly hurt or from hurting another before you are ready for marriage. Also, the boy you like today is not going to be who you marry. You are young. You will go through a few boys. Some will be friends for life. People are sometimes in our lives for the whole story. Sometimes they are just a chapter. It takes a brave person to know when that chapter is over and let go gracefully.
- Not everything needs to be on Instagram.
Sometime I need to take my own advice. I love to post pictures because then others can see and share in the joy I have in you girls! But not every part of every day needs to be on social media. It can backfire on you if you are not wise in what you post. You may have it shoved in your face and be constantly haunted, taunted, and reminded of any wrongdoing you were involved in long after it took place! Be aware, be careful. Friends may not always be friends when it comes to social media. Plus, your future boss will check it. Trust me. They will see how you really act and hopefully that is something to be proud of, not ashamed of. Be clued in and stay safe.
- I know your emotions.
Being a teen, I know you may find it hard to relate to me, but I still have a few brain cells left working that allow me to remember what I was like at your age! Its like being on an emotional roller coaster and you can’t always get off or even know how to. The good news is that it doesn’t last forever and things will settle down. Just try as best as you can to show an awareness of your feelings and emotions and how they affect you and those around you. Also remember I have been through this. And no, it was not thousands of years ago. I truly know the joys and agony of being a teen. If you can try to articulate those feelings, I may be able to help. Articulate does not mean yelling, “You’re the worst mom ever! You don’t understand me, etc.” Actually, I do.
- Why respect can be your greatest ally.
You deserve it from me, from your dad, your friends, your teachers — from everyone in your life. The best way to receive respect from others is to begin by respecting yourself. Stand up for what you believe. Make choices that you feel good about. You should be able to show respect for others as well. It will go a long way in getting that respect back. If a guy or friend is not respecting you the way God commands him to, he is not worth your time. We don’t need to be constantly torn down by those who don’t respect us. Move on to someone who will reciprocate that respect on all levels.
- Show me the money!
Sure, having money is a valuable asset, but that’s all it is. Money isn’t elusive. It is something you can get and I encourage you to go get your own. Work hard for it. You are not going to be making the big bucks right away. But a solid work ethic will get you far in life. Save more. Spend less. Don’t let it define you, change you, or control you. And remember, material stuff won’t satisfy you long-term. You don’t always have to upgrade to the newest thing. Of course, if you have it, feel free to share it with me and we will agree never to discuss how expensive raising a child is! Ahem.
- Do you really need all this stuff?
We live in a world where technology is prevalent. Where we can have more and more. But do you really need every new gizmo or gadget out there? I know back in my youth, I had less and I was happy. I know that is hard for you to understand. Please just think about it. Do they really make you happier or do they make you feel like you never have enough? And how much time does the newest gadget zap from your life? From being with your family? How much time do you spend wanting the newest material possession.Technology is great — in moderation. Remember, God sent Jesus as your greatest gift. That is all you need.
- Love your life.
Please don’t ever fall out of love with life. Everything you need for a rich, fulfilling, and rewarding life is there for you. Nobody owes it to you, but you owe it to yourself to make your life the best life possible. Find your passion for life and use this passion to motivate you to greatness because I really believe you are meant for greatness. You’ll have a lot of tough times on your own, but it’s worth it. It builds character and teaches you compassion. I can trace some of the best stuff in my life right now to things that were really hard when I was going through them. So when things seem like they are impossible, or you’re never going to feel better, just know you’ll eventually look back at them in amazement. It’s going to be okay.
- Value honesty. Sometimes the truth hurts. Don’t get angry at those closest to you when they are honest with you—especially when you really wouldn’t want to hear it from anyone else. Pick your friends wisely. They will be the people who either help or hurt you as you grow up. Hopefully, they will help you and be honest with you. Always be honest to yourself and to others. Don’t fake it. If you don’t want to do something with a friend, be honest. If you don’t like something, be honest. Don’t pretend in order to avoid embarrassment or discomfort—in yourself or in others. The truth is always preferable to lying. Just go about it nicely.
If you don’t learn anything else from me, learn this: we get one shot at this life. There’s no age limit on changing your course, and to settle in and be stuck in a life that isn’t authentic is a tragic waste. Use your life and live it fully. I love you. Go make brilliant mistakes and fall in love with your life.