Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Message To My Daughter as She Enters High School

Message for my daughter as she enters high school.

You never, ever have to bear a burden alone. Your father and I are here for you. Always and unconditionally. But if you can’t talk to us, find someone you can talk to (we probably have a few suggestions). It can be another friend’s parent, one of our friends or even another family member. It might even be a close friend whom you trust; but please remember, sometimes an adult can have a wiser perspective. After all, we have each been through the teen years and we truly do know many of the situations you will be facing. If you go to someone else, your father and I won’t be hurt and we won’t be mad. We just want you to always know that you aren’t alone.

The actions of your friends are never about you. Your peers aren’t thinking about you as much as you think they are. Their actions aren’t about you. Each of your friends and other teens are dealing with their own issues and finding their own way. Use this mantra (unless it’s a specific situation you are involved in and then refer back to the first paragraph): It’s Not About Me.

Because of this, be kind. Remember that the actions of your peers could be happening because of something they are missing or searching for. Sometimes, they are dealing with situations you may not be aware of…may have no inkling about.

Don’t hold grudges. Each of you is just a baby in your personal growth. None of you is the full adult you have yet to become and a grudge now could prevent you from knowing someone who may become a beautiful person in ten or fifteen years; someone you may need later in life.

Always stand up for yourself, your friends and those who are weaker than you. It is a hard thing to do, but will become easier. It will also become empowering and will endear you to those who know you. It will earn their trust and loyalty. And if we have set the right example, you know in your heart that it is the right thing to do.

You and your friends are children of a different technological age than we are. We don’t understand social media the way you do and we promise not to judge it. Live by this one rule, though, and you should be okay: never post anything online that you wouldn’t want us or your grandparents to see and never share another person’s secrets; it can hurt them and you both. You can’t hide something you post online, be it a photo or words and it can’t be erased, even after hitting “delete”. Your private personality should serve you well in this regard.

We will always be one phone call away. No matter what. No matter how late or how far or the situation. You see, nothing else matters if you don’t make it home safely. Your friend’s parents feel the same way. We will pick you and them up at any time if you find yourself in a questionable situation or if you have made choices you know will make us unhappy. The unhappy can wait in those moments and we will get through THAT together as well. Your safety comes first.

You can also talk to us about boys. We know you are a very private person and it is one of the special things that makes you who you are. But please know that both of us will listen respectfully and answer openly and honestly any questions you have. Girls usually talk to their mothers, if they decide to trust a parent, but you and your father have a special bond so never count him out as a resource. No question is too dumb. We won’t freak out. We know how emotional and passionate those feelings can be. Please don’t try to tread those waters alone, amazing and beautiful daughter. The consequences could be life altering and we can quietly and respectfully be there to help you navigate them. No judgements promised, ever, even if we don’t agree with your choices. Again, your safety comes first.

We promise to consider how our behavior impacts you. Because it does. Something as simple as teasing you in front of your friends might seem harmless to us; to you, it might be painfully embarrassing. We also know how important it has been and will continue to be for you to count on us to do the things we say we will do. We expect the same from you.

Those family vacations? They are important. There may come a time when you don’t want to join us and we promise to not force you to do everything with your family. However; there will be times when we insist. Our bonds as a family are more important than you can know right now and those precious vacations are a time for us to relax, be ourselves and feel comfortable within a unit that will be the one constant in your life. I promise to chronicle those times because memories are something no one can take away from you. Think of the laughs we already share when recounting road trips!

We promise to listen to you. When we fail at this, simply ask and remind us of this promise. We are human and we are flawed but you and your brother will always come first.

And finally, there may be times when you don’t like the answers we give. Or the consequences. Please, in those moments, remember that your father and I would never do anything to hurt you. Every action we take will be taken from a sincere belief that it is best for you. We do not have a handbook telling us how to parent a teenager. This is uncharted water for us. You do not have a handbook telling you how to get through the teen years; everything will be new to you as well. Together, though, we can get through anything.

We know you will be angry with us at times. We will be angry with you. But we will always love you, always cherish you and always try to do the right thing. We ask only that you also try to do the right thing and that you never forget your biggest supporters will be right there with you, every step of the way, even if we aren’t standing next to you.