The teenage years were not my favorite part of growing up.
I’m just going to take a wild guess that parenting a teenager will not be my favorite part of parenting. Teenagers are tough. At home, they’re often emotional, cynical, and solitary. Talking to them is like talking to a brick wall or an exploding bomb and there is little in between. I know this because I was one. In just seven short years, I’ll have one. Tick tock.
But teenagers are also really smart. No, they don’t have the wisdom of an aging adult, but they are quick on their feet, and clever, and funny. They catch on to the secrets us parents like to think we keep. Sometimes I wonder if it’s best to parent teenagers with less talk and more action. What they don’t want is to be lectured. If you’re lucky to get two words out of your teenager, it’s probably safe to assume they’re also listening to about two words of what you’re saying. So, you better make those words count.
If you could teach your teenager a lesson in two words – what would it be?
For me, it’s easy. I’d say… “Be kind.“
I am not the sort of person who lives with regrets. I fully believe the actions of our past led us to our present, and I wouldn’t change my present. That being said, if there was one thing I would do over from my teenage years, it would be to treat people better. There is nothing more important than the imprint you leave behind. That’s something I learn more every year that goes by. My own wants and needs and feelings matter, but my mark on this world is what matters most. What mark do I want to leave? What mark do I want my children to leave?
Because when it comes down to it, I could care less if they excel at sports or are the coolest kid at school or are the teacher’s pet or have perfect attendance. Any of those things are fine and if they’re important to my kid, they’re important to me. But what I really want, is a good kid who leaves a good impression on people’s hearts. Invite the quiet kid to sit with you at lunch. Tell the oddball she had a great performance in theater. Tell the sports star he played a great game. Be inclusive and be kind. I wasn’t always that person, and I wish I had been. You don’t get to change the mean things you said or did in school. Sometimes you just have to sit with your own mistakes and hope your children do it better.