Dear ‘Tweens and Teens,
I spend a lot of time with the likes of you. I see you in schools, on basketball courts and soccer fields, and in social settings. I watch your body language and hear your conversations. I’ve been on your Web sites and I’ve seen your text messages. I also have kids of my own and both my husband and I work with children in multiple capacities. We like to think of ourselves as a couple of the “good guys” because we are dedicating our lives to making your lives better. Richer. Fuller. More vibrant. Easier. We provide safe places and healthy outlets when you are feeling like no place is safe.
I know things can be incredibly tough for you at this age. There is SO.
MUCH. PRESSURE. The pressure you put on yourselves, and the pressure
that we, as parents, put on you. Pressure to get great grades. Pressure
to be amazing in sports. Pressure to play the instrument we never
played. Pressure to be popular. Peer pressure. Social pressure. Academic
pressure. Sexual pressure. Pressure to be beautiful and thin and
perfect. And, the pressure to grow up way before you are emotionally and
physically ready. There are days where you must feel bombarded with it
all and where you find it so difficult to keep it all together. My heart
aches for each and every one of you, because I know it can be tough.
But, I also know it doesn’t need to be that way.
I wanted to write this post for you today to let you know it is all going to be okay. I PROMISE. Whatever you are agonizing over, whatever insecurities you are feeling, whatever hurts you carry around with you like luggage — they will all dissipate as soon as you decide it is safe to let them go. Even at this tender stage of your life, you have much more power than you give yourselves credit for.
(Keep reading and hear me out because I want to share some beneficial secrets in this post.)
Admittedly, I am a lot older than you, but the desires to be well-liked, intelligent, athletic, and good looking are timeless. Regardless of age, gender, race, religion, socio-economic status, EVERYONE WANTS TO FIT IN AND BE LOVED AND RESPECTED. It’s our birthright and it’s been that way since the beginning of time. I went through what you are going through now – and so did your parents. We have also had our highs and lows, and when we share, we are trying to spare you the same pain. You might find us incredibly annoying and overbearing, but we have lived it and know you can benefit tremendously from our information and insights.
Sweet child, I want to give you some information that I know will be valuable. This is going to be really deep and this post has the power to change your life, so you are going to want to take notes! Here goes:
- There is almost nothing as disheartening as children hurting other children. Please don’t make fun of, talk down to, or judge anything or anyone just because it appears to be different than you on the surface. Different does not mean wrong. Be tolerant and empathetic. It will serve you and the world around you well.
- You can’t HAVE good friends if you don’t know how to BE a good friend. Period. End of story. Want people to stop talking about you? Stop talking about them. And, always remember that the person who gossips TO you will also gossip ABOUT you. Choose your friends wisely and lead by example. My rule of thumb is: if you didn’t see it with your own eyes or hear it with your own ears, then don’t talk about it with your big mouth. If you weren’t at the party, don’t spread rumors about the party. If you didn’t witness the argument, don’t talk about the argument. You get the gist.
- I know it is so easy and tempting and sometimes gratifying, but don’t ever put anything in a text message or post pictures online that you wouldn’t want your parents, teachers, college admissions office, or priest to read. EVER! If you are tempted to do something questionable, implement the 24 hour rule. Sit on it for 24 hours and then try to make a more rational decision. There are other ways to express yourself. Get a diary. Go for a run. But don’t bully anyone or degrade yourself on the internet. Bad idea.
- Some things are meant to be private. Just because you CAN share everything with the world at large in a matter of seconds does not mean you SHOULD. Keep your private affairs private. Don’t take your cues from Hollywood because Hollywood has lost its ever-loving mind.
- Respect yourself. Always. If you don’t respect yourself, how can you expect anyone else to respect you? You know yourself better than anyone. If it feels bad or feels wrong — don’t do it.
- A lot of the time, the thing that bugs you the most about someone else is the thing you most dislike about yourself. We are mirrors and the energy and thoughts we put out come back to us tenfold. Think about it. If something is bugging you about someone else, don’t lash out at them. Turn the mirror inward and go through your own set of checks and balances instead. It’s always better to clean your own house than to point out someone else’s mess.
- Be kind to the person who you think deserves it the least. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve witnessed people treating their peers poorly in school because of something painful that is going on outside of school. That girl with the chip on her shoulder or that boy who starts the rumors might be dealing with divorce, sick parents, or poverty. Sometimes when things are so painful and there aren’t adequate coping skills, people lash out. It’s not right and I don’t condone it, but you can always be kind in return.
- BE YOURSELF! There is only one you and I 100% guarantee that you are amazing and beautiful and worthy just the way you are. You can’t be the best you if you are always trying to be someone else. And, you can’t honor and celebrate all of your amazing gifts if you don’t even acknowledge that you have them. Not only that, but if you know who you are and are comfortable in your own skin, nobody else can ever make you feel poorly.
- BE BRAVE. Put yourself out there. Don’t isolate yourself. Sit at that lunch table. Try out for that team. Talk to that clique. Ask that question in class. Go to that event. Smile at that cute boy or girl. Go the extra mile. Take a risk. And, if it doesn’t go your way the first time, kep putting yourself out there. Life is full of ups and down and you stumble upon some pretty amazing surprises when you’re courageous and brave.
- There is no such thing as perfect. We are all flawed, we all make mistakes, and we all have things we wish we could do over. That’s what growth is all about. Give yourself and the people around you a break. I tell my girls all the time that I don’t want them to be perfect, I just want them to be the best possible version of themselves. Sometimes that means they do crappy on a test or foul out of a game or have messy rooms or say something hurtful. And then I encourage them to do better and to BE better next time. We’re all learning as we go along.
- Say you’re sorry. If you have done something wrong, something hurtful, or exhibited some bad judgment, give a sincere apology and move on.
- And finally, have open lines of communication with your parents (and your teachers and coaches). The trusted adults in your life typically have your best interests at heart and want you to be happy and healthy. There are going to be times when the outside world is going to kick the crap out of you and beat you down….it’s really nice to have someone in your corner telling you they love you and everything is going to be okay. Your parents are the perfect people to bandage up your bruised and battered heart and help you figure it all out. Give them a chance…
Simply reading this blog isn’t going to change your life. You have to LIVE IT — intentionally and regularly. Have the character and the moral compass to be yourself, stand up for what you believe in, and make good choices. There is so much more I could tell you, so much more advice I could give. But, I know in this digital age you have the attention span of a gnat, and I have probably said too much already, so I’ll save the rest for a future post.
It may not seem like it sometimes, but the best is definitely yet to come!
You are loved.
You are amazing.
You are enough.
It will all be okay.
Check back with me or let me know if I can help you with anything.