A mother’s wisdom for her daughter.
I wrote this to my daughter a few years ago when I realized how fast time was flying. With so much homework and requirements by various sports teams, there seemed to be no time left in the day for her to learn some of the very important life lessons. I’m thrilled to say that she is turning 17 in a few weeks, and we have mastered a few of the items.
I went on a hike today with a dear friend, and I told her about the letter and promised to send it upon our return home. After she read it, she told me I should get it published. I hope you find some great nuggets you can share with your daughter. Enjoy!
You are 14 years old, going into the 8th grade. In five years you will be leaving home, going on to live in the world as a grown woman. In this world, there are many things you will need to know. It is and has been our responsibility to teach you these valuable things while you are with us, under our roof.
Ever since you started school, you have thrived in a strict, organized environment. The only time you did not like school was when you were in a class that had no structure or discipline. This tells me you are at your best in a structured situation.
We are your friends but above all that, we are your parents first. There have been and will be many times you don’t like us, but that is our job. We need to make choices that you won’t like but in the end, you will realize they are for you to learn. We love you above anything else, but it is our job to teach you everything we possibly can to prepare you to flap your own wings and fly away prepared to create your own nest.
Before you leave this house to go off on your own, you will need to learn:
We are your PARENTS. We have our own relationship – separate from you. We met long before you came around. We have different opinions and ideas. Sometimes we have discussions and conversations that may become heated. These are OURS to discuss. You are the child. You are not to butt in or interrupt thinking they involve you. Throughout life you will hear people having heated conversations – you need to know this is never an invitation for you to become involved in unless the argument is with you.
Time management. You need to understand how to prioritize what is important. You need to process and think about what you need to do, understanding it must be done before you do the fun stuff that you want to do.
How to manage money. How to balance a checkbook. How to budget. How to know if you have enough to spend on A and still have enough for B.
You have to learn how to have and use credit. Many kids think right out of the gate that they can get all kinds of credit cards and get everything they want – never understanding that they will be paying more than twice as much for everything just putting things on plastic. You will then learn the consequence by bill collectors.
You need to understand how to purchase only what you can afford at any given time. You may want the nice new skis that are in the magazine although you wouldn’t be able to afford going skiing that weekend because of the money you spent on them. You need to learn to live within your own means at any given time. You can work toward the big goal and/or purchase but you need to know how to only live within your means. NOTHING in life is free. You can never count on money from anyone else. You need to know how to depend entirely on yourself.
Always wear sunscreen.
You will be offered drugs at some point in your youth, maybe a few times. Some of your best friends might tell you to try something because it made them feel awesome. I know you have a great head on your shoulders – use it always at this time. Some drugs, like cigarettes, are addicting. Once you start, you cannot stop. Some people go to great lengths to get their next fix. Some break into homes. Some rob stores and banks. The addiction can be so powerful that they will do anything, risk anything to get the drug their body now requires. Some drugs are disguised as candy. When you EVER have a doubt about what someone is giving you – do NOT take/eat it. Some kids have died with their first drug experience. It can kill you – it is a huge risk. It is NOT worth it.
You will hear from many girls how they must lose weight and/or change because the girls in magazines are beautiful and thin. Girls in magazines are actually not real. They airbrush and alter every photo to make the girls look gorgeous and then, young girls want to be them. It is not a reality. Everyone has a different body style and shape – enjoy yours. Keep it healthy and fit but do not ever try to be or look like someone in a magazine. It is not reality.
You have to know how to cook. When you are out on your own, the last thing you should do is drive through for your meals. Nothing is harder on your body than feeding it improperly. Being an athlete you need to understand food energy and nutrition. Shopping and providing yourself with the best nutrition and balance is critical to understand. Participating in shopping, cooking and preparing the shopping list is very important.
You need to know how to clean the house, the car, and the yard. You need to know how to do laundry, how to sort the colors and fabrics. All of these will be part of your future, and you can’t go in clueless. You can learn a lot of short cuts and experience from your parents.
You need to listen to people, ask questions and sincerely understand points of view. To expand your friendship base, you have to learn about who they are, what they like and where they stand. You need to feel what they might need from you as a potential friend. When we don’t ask and don’t listen to the answer, we haven’t offered anything to them that they will see as valuable. You want them to want to call you and hang out with you as you fill a need that they desire from your friendship. Unless you get to know and understand them deeply, the relationships will stay at a shallow – surface place.
You need to learn about the opposite sex!!! You need to take the time to understand what boys want and the lengths they will go to get what they want. You will have to break many hearts along the path to the person you will end up with way, way down the road. The more you can stand up for yourself and really know what the other person is offering, the better you will be in the long run.
You are going to get your heart broken. When you lose a friend, or a boy breaks up with you, you are going to feel something that you will consider the worst feeling you’ve ever felt in your entire life. You will cry, be angry, want to lash out, want to scream. You will wonder how anyone could do this to you. Heartbreak from a breakup, especially when you don’t see it coming, is the worst thing you will experience. You will hurt terribly. You won’t want to eat. You will think it will never go away. With this heartbreak, I want you to learn that this is a relationship that was NOT one you were to have for long. It was one that would never have ended well, so it’s the best thing in the world that it is over now. This new freedom will open you up to meet others – more likely to be one that you were supposed to meet all along. Just know, however bad you feel, it is temporary.
Help seniors, children and anyone you see that could use a hand. Take their shopping carts back for them. Grab the thing from the top shelf that they can’t reach. Help them cross the street safely. There is no greater feeling than the smile you will get back from helping. Pay it forward every day of your life.
You are going to get your heart broken.
Safety! Knowing about fire, water, the road, danger… you need to make safe choices understanding the difference with the wrong decisions. You will most likely lose people you care about due to their poor choices (texting while driving). You need to really know the potential consequence for a bad decision.
You need to understand responsibility and accountability. You need to take initiative to do what is yours to do and what is right. You need to be accountable for your choices, actions, and promises. You need to know when and how to get things done without outside forces reminding you.
You need to understand the meaning and value of respect. Treating others the way you would want them to treat you – to value the worth of every person including yourself.
You need to demonstrate sincere concern and caring for others, for their needs and well-being. You need to express compassion, forgiveness, generosity and kindness. You need to be polite – always. Smile at strangers every day. You will be surprised how many people your smile will light up.
You must be honest with yourself and others. You must tell the truth and demonstrate reliability and trustworthiness through your actions, show integrity and fairness.
You need to be prepared as some people will disagree with you. That is okay. You will need to agree to disagree which will create a stress-free feeling for all.
Think twice when you feel heated and want to lash out. Take a breath, think of the consequences or outcome if you just lash out. If you take a moment or two – the outcome will be completely different. This is for home, school or work.
Find the things that you are passionate about and write them down! If you end up getting paid to do what you are already passionate about – you have hit the gold mine.
Tell yourself you CAN do it. Go after what you want with a CAN DO attitude. Moving forward without incredible confidence will cease the forward motion. Knowing you can be and do anything you want will bring it much closer to reality.
Take chances. Be prepared to fail. If you don’t fail – often – you will never learn from mistakes. Plan on making many, many mistakes and enjoy the lessons you learn from them. Be thrilled for the broken road behind you that gets you to the place you will end up.
Be prepared to fail. If you don’t fail – often – you will never learn from mistakes.
You are not like anyone else. Be who YOU are. Enjoy your uniqueness. We are all from different molds, and that is what makes the world what it is.
Turn off the TV, put away the electronic device and get to know people. Go outside and play. Ride a bike, try a new sport, smell the flowers. Don’t get lost in technology. Think about the time you could spend in front of a TV and how you could have mastered an instrument or learned a new language in the same amount of time. Life is too short to waste it watching the pretend life of others. There are 24 hours in a day. In a perfect world, you sleep 8 of those, leaving 16. You are in school about 7 hours. Sports and lessons 2 hours many days. This leaves roughly 7 hours for eating, body care, homework, etc. If you take 2-3 hours of that and spend it on electronics, you have taken all of your creative time or time you could have spent nurturing relationships. Think about the time and how it could be better spent.
You need to let go of the idea of controlling things that are out of your control.