A letter to my teenage son
Why am I choosing to write a letter to my "teenage" son when he isn't even one year old yet? As a mom it is hard not to think about your child growing up and your responsibilities along the way. I wonder every day what kind of man my son will become. And I think about all the things I hope to teach him and the environment I would like to provide for him.
Yet, when he gets older and we are presented with challenging moments, it may be hard to remember these important lessons. So I thought by writing down some of the things on my mind it will come in handy when I need a reminder not to sweat the smaller stuff.
Enjoy reading my letter and leave me a note - what would you add?
You are now in your teens and hopefully I have had the privilege of seeing you develop into who you are today. And although your father and I have already taught you so much and I am positive you are an outstanding young man, there are a few things I would like for you to consider especially at this juncture in your life.
1. ask more than you know
Truth be told, I learned this one the hard way. Which is probably why it is number one on my list. Fortunately, I had a great mentor that taught me the power of not having all the answers and asking the right questions.
Be curious! Even if you do know the answer, asking good questions often provides you with fresh perspective you would not have had on your own.
Of course, this does not mean that you should never have the answers but it is good to learn the situations in which it would serve you better to have more questions than answers.
Which means it is important to become really good at asking the right questions. One thing I learned is the power of five. Asking one question might seem good enough but if you go five levels deep you are bound to uncover something really important that you may have missed if you didn't dig. NOTE: I almost deleted this part - because I pictured you asking me why five times when I told you no to something! LOL But then I left it in because of #3.
2. be RESPONSIBLE and accountable for your actions
This one is quite simple. Often people will point to external factors when something goes wrong that was in their control. Do not be this person. Look at a situation and be honest about what went wrong and why. Take accountability as necessary. People are much more forgiving when you are honest than if you place blame and deny accountability.
3. respectfully challenge others
Be open minded but have your own opinions and values. However, respect other people's views and learn to embrace differences!
Conflict is inevitable so learning to navigate through tricky situations is very important. You do not have to agree with everything or everyone but please learn the art of diplomacy and how to respectfully challenge opposing views (especially when dealing with your parents ha ha).
In addition, when in a situation of conflict, try to find a win-win solution. A professor I had in grad school taught us this by having us arm wrestle in class. We were paired up with a classmate and had 2 minutes to arm wrestle each other. The goal was to see who could win.
After time was up, he went around the room and asked every group how they did. The majority of people either had one winner or zero winners. This was not surprising since it is the basic notion of "fight or flight."
However, there was one group who claimed both people won equal times. Everyone was confused and wondered how they accomplished such results. Well before starting to wrestle, they determined that if they just went back and forth for the full 2 minutes, they could both win. Genius!
4. find solutions not problems
When dealing with setbacks, many people focus on the problems rather than searching for solutions. While it may be easier to fall into this trap, you will be able to handle a great deal more in life when you understand how to find solutions and keep moving forward.
Your dad always says fail fast forward. And I agree. You should not worry if there is a setback, only if it prevents you from moving forward.
5. quality over quantity
Being popular may seem like everything right now but I am here to tell you that your future will not be based on if you were homecoming king or president of student council. Spend time now development quality relationships. Learn who you are, how to communicate with others, what it takes to be a team player, and even how to say I'm sorry. These are skills that will make the biggest difference in your life. I promise.
And if you are homecoming king, that is also okay!
6. mindset is everything
Your mind is powerful. When you think something it quickly becomes a reality. Practice having a positive outlook on life early. Energy is contagious. Be the person people want to be around because they feel better as a result.
Every morning I ask Alexa to play "Happy" by Pharrel to start our day off right. You loved hearing the music as we danced around the kitchen. And you would giggle and smile so big! I will always remember and cherish these moments.
7. laugh at yourself
Something I have learned from your daddy is not to take yourself too seriously. He always uses the saying, "the worry of today is the joke of tomorrow!"
And if you ever need someone to turn to that will make you laugh so hard you almost pee your pants...call grandpa!
8. All you need is love
The Beatles were right! When you feel down and you don't know where to turn please know that your dad and I are here for you and will accept you with open arms.
Love yourself but also love the people around you. You can learn from Grandma how to give amazing hugs.
There are probably many things I am forgetting, or couldn't add because I have yet to learn them myself, but I hope you take away a few things and it helps you on this journey of life.
P.S. Expect a second letter to your older adult self soon! Love you son.