I find it haunting to know that many terminally ill mothers have left their children video diaries of all the important life lessons they want them to know. They do this knowing they will not be around to reinforce these teachings repeatedly or even answer a follow up question. I can’t even begin to put myself in their shoes, but I so completely understand. Speak with your children every day about your values, model empathy, and impart wisdom. Here are some lessons that I strongly believe our tween and teen daughters need to know.
Don’t Be Phony, but DO be authentic. Being phony, or fake, is hiding behind superficial things such as material possessions, trying to be perfect, or saying the right witty thing all the time. Authenticity is about having courage, taking risks in relationships, being emotionally present and wholehearted. To quote Brene Brown, “Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It's about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.”
Don’t live for others, but DO create your own dream. Maybe your parents will be disappointed that you don’t want to go to their alma mater, follow the career path they laid out for you or marry someone they aren’t fond of. Well, it is your life and you must do what is right for you. This does not mean you shouldn’t take advice from those older and wiser than you. It does mean, though, that you need to be aware of when you are making a hard choice versus a stupid choice.
Don’t be around negative people, but DO surround yourself with positive people. Negative people are toxic and will make you miserable. I do not care if this is a friend or even a family member. Create strong boundaries and know when to cut people out of your life who get some kind of sick enjoyment out of being foreboding, gloomy and pessimistic. On the contrary, positive people are a breath of fresh air, look at things though an optimistic lens and are a source of good energy to be around.
Don’t be a “quitter,” but DO know the difference between quitting and giving up on something that just isn’t right for you. So, you quit ballet because you have two left feet, well I have news for you…it was not right for you. But if you are really good at ballet, but quit because it was too hard to do 1,000 plies a week to keep up, then you gave up too easily. Everything takes effort. You could have an IQ of 160 and it would be a waste if you decide not to work hard.