There are so many things I want to tell my daughter as I watch her grow and age at a rapid rate. Seventeen months!? Where did the time go? Before I know it, she’ll be seven and then seventeen. I remember how fast it went with her older brother, now a teenager. My biggest fear is that all the rational things in my head right now that I plan on telling her when she hits those formative adolescent years will go out the window, and I will become, well, a crazy mom who spouts off rules instead of engages in discussions. I want to be a mom that can talk with her kids about struggles in life and consequences of actions but also enforce rules. There has to be a balance.
Before I lose all rational thinking (which is bound to happen with a teen daughter), I figure I have 11.5 years (probably less. . .8 years, maybe, based on how fast kids are growing up today) to decide what I want her to know. I am sure this list will change with the world, but here’s what I have so far.
1. Someone will offer you drugs. Don’t do it. Not because it’s wrong or I told you not to, but because one feel-good, rebellious moment can result in some scary stuff. You could be arrested, suffer an overdose or some other reaction, or you could decide you like it enough to keep doing it. . .and then drugs can become your life. If you don’t believe me, Google (or whatever the company turned verb is in your day) Amy Winehouse, Len Bias, and Heath Ledger. You have so much going for you; it’s not worth it.
2. You’ll also want to drink alcohol. You probably will have a drink before you turn 21. If you do, never get behind the wheel of a car or get in a car with someone who has been drinking. I’d rather have you call me to pick you up from a party that you’ve been drinking at than have you call me from jail or never hear your voice again.
3. You’re going to meet a boy. He’s going to want to have sex. You might want to too. Protect yourself, but don’t do it until you are ready to face the consequences of having sex. I don’t just mean pregnancy. I mean the emotional stuff that comes with it. Protect your heart and your body because your first time should be with someone who respects your heart, soul, and boundaries. Oh, and wait until you’re 30, please. 😉
3. You might not meet a boy. Maybe you’ll meet a girl. That’s OK, too. I love you. I don’t love you “no matter what”, I just plain love you.
4. You can be whatever you want to be, but that may not mean that you are going to be a famous athlete/singer/actress/_________. It’s great to have dreams, but find your greatest strengths and passions, and focus on those. You are you and no one else.
5. Read every day. You don’t have to read the complete works of William Shakespeare, but read. If you love Science Fiction, read Science Fiction. If you adore realistic fiction about female teenage protagonists, read your mother’s best sellers. (Note: I have a few years, right?) Read magazines, newspapers, comic books, whatever! Just read.
6. Pay attention in math class. You really do need it in everyday life. I promise. Once you get to imaginary numbers, this no longer applies unless you are going into some profession I don’t understand.
7. Be financially responsible. Don’t use credit cards like they are cash and start saving early. You won’t regret it!
8. Tell the people you love that you love them every day. You can never tell them too much.
9. Having faith is important, even if you don’t express your faith in a church building on Sundays. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Ask questions about Religion. Own your own spirituality. Part of having faith is exploring your past, present, and future and knowing what your truly believe, not what the world tells you to value.
10. Always have a dog in your life. If you have a place where the dog can live and be healthy, adopt a dog. They need homes, and people always need them. Your dogs love you so much, and although I know they probably won’t be around when you are 13, you will always have dogs in your life.