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On The Talks We Aren’t Having With Our Children (And Should Be)

December 29, 2012

When it comes to parenting, the most dreaded “talk” for most parents is about sex. We all go about it different ways, but eventually, it gets done. (And then your kids go look things up on the internet.) But in all our efforts to broach this rather uncomfortable topic, we bypass many more, which are actually more important to our kid’s development into real, functional adults.

Parents, this is a letter from your kids.

Mom, Dad, Grandma, Grandpa, Guardian, Adult Who Is Raising Me; I wish you would teach me…

…How to win and lose gracefully. I am not always going to be the best, I need you to show me that I can accept defeat without letting it define me or hold me back in the future. I also need you to show me that I can win without lording it over others and without having it be something that defines my worth. I will not and should not always get a prize. I can’t always have the outcome I desire, but only I can choose what I do and become beyond that moment.

…How to have a healthy relationship with money. Seriously, you think I don’t see how you spend? Do you think I don’t know when you’re stressed and trying to figure out which bills to pay? Do you think I don’t hear the comments you make about others and how they handle their money or lack thereof? Teach me how to use it, how to budget, how to live without drowning in debt or depriving myself of the important things in life. Teach me how to be generous, no matter how much or little I have. Teach me that I am not entitled to anything, but am required to earn it. Teach me how to sacrifice without being a martyr. And if you struggle with these things, sit down with me and we can learn them together.

…That all my emotions, good, bad and ugly, are okay and can be expressed in a healthy manner. Don’t tell me that my sadness is a phase and I need to get over it. Don’t tell me that being angry is not okay and I’m not allowed to show it. Let me see you cry, laugh, be upset, be disappointed,  be afraid, love; let me see your emotions and understand the truth for the reasons you feel them. Let me see you show them in healthy ways. Teach me how to take a breath, to walk away, to tackle someone with a hug, to say “this is how I’m feeling and why”. Teach me to be honest and how to communicate. Teach me that being strong doesn’t mean showing no emotions at all. Teach me how to be wrong, how to say “I’m sorry”, how to forgive and how to let go and move on. Teach me to be genuine and honest.

…That relationships require work, don’t always last forever and will grow and change with time; and that all of those things are normal and okay! Let me see you disagree and resolve it. Let me see you engage in romance. Let me see you engage the people you care about in discussion and activity. Tell me the truth about why you don’t get along with some people. If you have a relationship that ends, show me and tell me how you own what you did that wasn’t good for the relationship; tell me why it was better that it ended. Teach me how to recognize when a relationship is unhealthy and I need to let it go. Show me that relationship classes, books, seminars, counseling, etc. are all healthy tools that can make any relationship better, even if it is already a strong relationship to begin with. Teach me how to trust, how to love and how to give without draining myself dry. Teach me how to be a whole and complete person with or without a romantic relationship. Show me that life is enhanced by the people I bring into it.

…How to have a healthy relationship with food. Every diet you go through, I’m right there with you. I want to see you happy with your body, your health. I want to be happy with my body and health. Teach me how to eat well and exercise, or work with someone who can. Show me how to enjoy food and exercise without taking it to extremes. Show me how to address challenges with food, exercise, metabolisms and health, without inflicting them on others or using them as a crutch or weapon. Teach me to be kind and supportive to others who have different health challenges than I do.

…How to balance work and life, and well, life in general. I learn from you how life is supposed to be. Show me that I can work without it taking over my life. Show me when to walk away from work and have a life. Show me that work isn’t more important than family. Show me what your priorities are and that my time is the most precious gift I can give. Teach me how to show what my own priorities are by investing in them in healthy ways and without neglecting other things to do so. Teach me how to work to live instead of living to work.

…How to ask for help. Deep down, I know I’ll always go to you because you’re my parent and you’re supposed to know everything. There’s no shame in admitting you don’t, in fact, I respect you for not lying to me. Show me that it’s okay not to have all the answers and to reach out to people and resources when I can’t do it by myself. Teach me that strength comes from having the courage to depend on others, not from stubbornly trying to do things all by myself. Don’t belittle me when I don’t understand something. Be patient, guide me, let me see you ask someone else for help with something you struggle with and let me see you accept help, wanted or unwanted, graciously.

…That there are good and bad people/moments/places/things in the world, but I have the power to do something about them. Teach me how selflessness can help someone in need. Teach me how to give without expecting anything anything in return. Teach me that a hug can make all the difference in the world. Teach me that my choices matter. Teach me how to learn, how to research, how to act. Teach me that I am never helpless or alone. Show me that I can change the world.

Until Next Time,

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One Comment
  1. GothG permalink

    I love letters like this. I wrote a few to myself and I find them incredibly elucidating.

    Every time I stop at your blog (which I love very much) I wonder when you’re going to make your amazing prose into a book.

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