A few years ago, my own mum gave me a copy of a parenting book. I was both amused and highly indignant at the same time. Now a few years have passed and I must say I have on more than one occasion resorted to looking through “that” book!
Lets face it, I am not Supermom. I don’t have all the answers, and unfortunately, although I would like to take tears and heartbreak away from my kids, I know this is all part of 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.
Looking forward into the not too distant future, if I was to come up with a list of what kids should know by the time they are 15, it would be the following.
1. “Parents are people too and why 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, a devout lover of you since the moment you were born, and that will never change, no matter what you say or do. I will never give up on you, abandon or forget about you. However, I have my own life too and would like to enjoy it! Yes, I have a sense of humor too. It helps!
2. “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. Easier said than done, I know, but I just have to say it.
3. “There will always be problems: focus, focus, focus!”
Yes, focus on the problem not the person, if it is a 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. If any problem seems insurmountable — I am here to help.
4. “It’s not the end of the world.”
It take guts to own up and take responsibility when you mess up. As adults we still struggle with it, and believe me there are some adults who will never grow up and admit they were wrong. They still play the blame game. Please do not be one of those people. It is not the end of the world. It is just another lesson in life to learn from and move on. 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.”
5. “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 you feel you should be better at! Above all, you are good at so many things. If you ever are in doubt, come ask me!
6. “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. You are not me. Don’t try to be 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.
7. “Let your voice be heard, but in the right way.”
The power of words can heal, harm, uplift, 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 and never with malice. There are so many ways to communicate and let your thoughts and feelings be known. Choose wisely my child.
8. “Sex and relationships: yes, there is a difference.”
I know this is not something you may be ready to talk about now but I’ll say it anyway. I hope it will mean more to you when you reach this point in time. Yes, there is a difference between sex and relationships. Sex is simply the physical acting out of an expression and that expression isn’t always love or carried out in a loving way. To enter into a relationship with someone there should be a situation where there is mutual respect, healthy interest, patience, love, 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.
9. “Social media alert!”
Oh yes, if you are about to make a mistake or do something you may later regret, think again! 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. Be clued in and stay safe.
10. “A whole bag of 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.
11. “Why respect can be your greatest ally.”
You may not feel very special or unique, but every part of you — your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being — thrives and is in balance when you show respect for yourself. You should also expect respect from others, not in a pushy, aggressive or challenging way, but in a way that shows you think highly of yourself and so should everyone else.
12. “Learning is not all about the boring stuff.”
There are so many ways to learn, and it’s not always found in textbooks. Be open and receptive to learning from others who are positive role models, learning from situations both positive and negative, learning from your parents — yes, your parents — and simply learning by experiencing life.
13. “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. Become more financially independent but to do so in a way that is within the law and won’t come back to haunt you. Of course, feel free to share it with me and we will agree never to discuss how expensive it is to raise a child! Cha-ching!
14. “Do you really need all this stuff?”
Gadgets, gizmos, or what I like to call “stuff”, do you really need it all? 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?
15. “Keep a love for 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.
“There are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children. One of these is roots, the other, wings.” — Johann Wolfgang von Goethe