Saturday, August 31, 2013

A Message to My Teenager

With the start of the school year, there have been several versions of 'messages to my teen' floating around Facebook. Most of them have to do with  ideas of teens getting into trouble, not listening to their elders, not focusing on what's important in life, etc. Those messages have always rubbed me the wrong way, because they start with the assumption that teens are wrong and adults are right, that teens don't have any idea how the 'real world' works and adults do, and so forth. And although I know that many people see these as 'funny' and 'just a joke', I never have felt that way about them. The fact that we say those things about teens is because it's so entrenched in our societal way of thinking about them. After all, you can't make a joke - funny or not - unless the subject matter is well understood by the listener.

So, here I was, reading these on Facebook, and feeling icky about it all. I decided to write my own version of the list in my morning journal, with no intention of doing anything with it other than working through my own personal feelings and beliefs. It was very cathartic to do, and left me feeling lighter and happier. I figured I'd share it on Facebook, because it might bring a smile to someone else's day - that resulted in several requests from people for permission to share this, while wanting to credit me for writing it. Posting it here on my blog, and sharing from this point, seemed to make the most sense.

**Disclaimer** (Oh, c'mon, this was bound to be here, right??). I am not a perfect parent by any stretch of the imagination! This list is my 'highest goal' list, all of the things that I believe and aspire to - but of course I don't always hit the mark. This is also how *I* feel about my teen, and my views about life. I didn't write it to 'sell' my viewpoint to anyone else. It was purely therapeutic for myself. I'm glad that others, who have a similar life viewpoint, have enjoyed it. If you don't, if it doesn't jive with you, that's perfectly fine. You go on and be your wonderful self in your wonderful way (that *is* on my list, after all!).


Message to my Teenager

1. Follow your passions, and your heart, no matter what level of school society believes that you should be in, and no matter what age you are. Nothing is forever, no one choice determines your future, everything can be remade at every moment in your life. There are countless paths to explore, in countless ways. Find the ones that light you up.

2. Say YES to the Universe often. I will say yes as much as I can to you, always looking to find ways that we can both find what we want in beautiful coexistence.

3. Join whatever activities make you shine - or none if you’re not an activity-joining kind of person. 

4. Drugs and alcohol are part of the human experience. I hope that if you try them, you are as responsible as possible, keeping the safety of yourself and others in mind. If you have questions or need help, I am always here, without judgment or censure, to help you.

5. The money you earn and spend is your own, use it in whatever ways you wish. I will not always be able to provide it, or to cover your debts, but I am here to share my advice on how I’ve managed my money - or mismanaged it - in my life.

6. If I yell at you, I’m sorry. Remind me that we’re on the same team, and that we can communicate our different needs without verbally abusing one another. We’ll both take a deep breath and try again.

7. Every moment, every day, every age has wonderful things inside to be discovered. Some days are challenging, but even the most challenging ones contain love, and joy, and magic, when you look for those things.

8. Be who you are, whoever that is, with joy. I’ll love you no matter who you choose to be.

9. If you ever need me, call me, and I will be there. It’s part of the Mom job, and one I’m always happy to do.

10. Live your own life, and go your own direction. Following others’ dreams won’t get you to yours. Leading others to your dreams won’t get them to theirs. Walk your own path, and let others walk their own paths.

11. Your siblings are part of your family, but there’s no requirement to be connected to them for the rest of your life. I hope you find love and friendship with them, but if you don’t, I understand that everyone chooses the people that they surround themselves with, and you get that choice with family as much as with anyone else.

12. I’ve made choices that I haven’t loved, but I’ve also learned that in every choice, there is the seed of knowing more clearly what I want in my life. If you get stuck on this, I’m happy to share my experiences with you.

13. If I have expectations of you that I am not meeting for myself, I’m sorry. Those are my needs and wants, not yours. I’ll take care of myself, and let you make your choices for yourself.

14. Learn whatever you are called to learn. Everything that you desire to know is important, it all has value. Don’t worry about missing knowledge; if you need it, you’ll find the paths to acquiring it, in the right way and time for you.

15. Respect your needs and interests, your personality, your energy, your approach to life. It’s uniquely yours and shouldn’t be compared to anyone else’s. Love yourself so much that you can only ever choose to be YOU.