I read an article this evening title "10 Things I Want My Daughter To Know" and it was all so true ... if I had a daughter, those are things I would want her to know as she grows into a woman. (Full article here if you'd like to read it) However, I don't have any daughters, but I do have sons, and these are things I'd like them to know as they age, from the perspective of a woman who was once a teenage girl who was constantly in love with other teenage boys ...
1.) THINK BEFORE YOU SPEAK ... I know this seems like common sense, but I mean it in a more specific way. Little girls have hearts that are broken so easily. Things you'd say to your dude friends can be taken harshly by little girls. I, still to this day, some 20 years later, remember some of the mean things that boys had said when I was growing up. It may seem petty, but that little girl is going to remember if you joke with her about her appearance, weight, or height (yes, I was abnormally tall as a little girl). She's not going to take it as "funny ha-ha" like your guy buddies will. Her feelings will get hurt and you'll make her think about those things for a very long time. Watch your words and how you use them. They're the most powerful tool you'll ever have.
2.) YOUR WORD IS YOUR BOND ... People will remember the things you don't do before they remember the things you accomplish. Don't give them a reason to have negative thoughts about you. Make promises, and keep them, and if you can't, don't make them to begin with. Keep your arrangements and honor your bets.
3.) HONESTY IS THE BEST POLICY ... lies come back to haunt you. They will now, they will tomorrow and they will decades from now. There's no such thing as a white lie. Always remember, especially in a relationship when you're older, your significant other will rather have the truth than a lie. If you're going to lie about it after doing it, it probably wasn't worth doing in the first place. Your integrity is your most valuable attribute ... ALWAYS.
4.) DATE AND DATE A LOT ... but don't be "that guy". It's okay to date different types of girls. The idea of dating is to find someone you're compatible with and could see a future with. Now, as a teenager, this doesn't have much purpose, since dating usually consists of holding hands and talking on the phone, but when you're an adult, test the waters. Date the pretty girl, the preppy girl, the goth girl, the alt girl, the chubby girl, the black girl, the Asian girl, the cheerleader, the nerdy girl ... date all kinds of girls ... this way, when you find YOUR girl, you'll know she's the one. Now, please don't take this as "sleep with all the girls" because, again, your integrity is your most valuable asset, don't rack up sexual partners, it's not attractive and you will regret it when you finally find the person you're going to spend the rest of your life with.
5.) I'M ALWAYS ON YOUR SIDE ... right now, I have to be your mom. I have to be the one who lays down the law, but one day, we're going to be friends. We'll be able to talk about all the messed up things you did as a kid and laugh about them (once you have kids of your own, that is ... don't tell me now ... I might ground you for like ever .. seriously). There is nothing in this world that you can do to take away my love ... you are mine, a piece of my heart, soul and body. We were connected in a way you'll never be connected to another human being. We shared a body for nine months, son. I'll protect you to the ends of the earth no matter how old you are.
6.) BE KIND TO YOUR MOM .. .because one day, I'm going to have to come to the realization that another woman is going to be an important part of your life. It's going to hurt. I'll probably cry. I might even snarl at this girl when you bring her home to meet me. Just know, deep down inside, that because you love her, I love her too. I will know that I raised you to find the greatness in people, and even if she's not the kind of girl that I would want in your life, that doesn't mean that I'll hate her (I might not like her, because you're my baby boy and I don't want to lose you). So when I say things that might make you mad at me because you love this woman, remember, you're gaining a new part of your life and I'm losing a part of mine. It's going to be an adjustment period. But never be shy to tell me how you feel about her, because that's going to let me know that I've done something right.
7.) HAVE AN OPINION ... yes, we pick and choose our battles, but never be afraid to voice how you feel. If something's upsetting you, speak your mind. If you're having issues with school, friends, relationships, or work ... use those powerful words we already talked about. Be passionate about issues. Whether it be political, religious or fighting for the rights of cats to get a driver's license, if it's something you feel strongly about, use your opinion and fight for what you feel is right. I raised you this way, don't forget it.
8.) SOMEONE IS ALWAYS WATCHING YOU ... To someone, you're a role model. You might not ever know it, or it might be someone that comes to you 20 years from now to tell you how you made an impact on their life. It might even be your little brother who watches your every move. Make sure that when these people are seeing how you act, you're putting on your best face every day. Make sure that the actions you're portraying are actions worth mimicking. Remember, you can be a hero or a villain. The choice is all yours.
9.) DON'T BEAT YOURSELF UP ... some days you'll win and others you'll lose. It's a part of life, my sweet, sweet boy. Learn at an early age that it's okay to lose, as long as you remember that feeling and make sure the next time you try your best and win. From grades, tests, relationships, sports, picking friends, and making scary choices ... there's no wrong answer if you put your all into it. If you're truly trying your best, then you're a winner already. Every day you wake up, you should strive for greatness, because that's why you were created ... to be great. (And I think you're pretty awesome already)
10.) BIG RISKS ARE SCARY BUT CAN BE SO REWARDING ... you're going to accomplish so many milestones throughout your life. The journey might kick you in the butt sometimes, and you'll feel like quitting, but getting to the finish line ... that's the greatest feeling in the world, I promise. Son, I was a quitter. When things got hard or scary, I'd quit so I'd never have to finish, and risk losing. I took no chances ... until I did. Then, that's when life really got exciting. With no risk, comes no reward. Don't fit into a mold and follow what the world deems acceptable. Step outside the box, think for yourself and find your own path. I promise it'll be so much more exciting. Follow your passions and do what makes you happy. In the end, it's going to be you, pal. I'd hate to see you doing what everyone else wants and you be unhappy. Never sacrifice everything. Keep a little for yourself. You'll need it for your sanity when you become a father.
All in all, I want my boys to know how much value they truly have. Not just in their academics or personal lives, but in their souls. They are blessings and should always remember that without them, my life wouldn't have been complete. They might not have been born in the best of circumstances, but more than anything I try to lead by example, and one day, I hope they remember this and follow this advice, because it would have been really helpful to me when I was growing up.
I love you, my sons. And you're my greatest accomplishment ... and I'll never have a more important job than being your mom. There is no greater reward than watching you blossom into bright, strong willed, young men. You'll only know how honestly proud I am when you become parents.
Thanks for reading,