To my children,
Last night, we talked about relationships and drugs and alcohol and sex and so much more. I'm honest with you for a reason. I tell you what has happened in my life. I tell you what you need to watch out for. I answer your questions.
I do it all because I don't want to be sending you out into the world without the information you are going to need once you're there. I don't labor under any delusions that I can keep you small and naive and safe. I know I can't. I know you're growing up, I know you're going to be put into positions where you have to make decisions, I know that sometimes you're going to make mistakes. I know all of this.
My job is to equip you for life.
And you're growing up so fast. Too fast.
We talked about so much last night, and those conversations are still playing over in my head. These are the things I want you to take away from last night.
- All relationships take work, no matter what kind of relationship it is - family, friends, romantic. If a relationship is too one sided, where one person is doing most of the work and the other is taking more, take a step back and think about whether it's healthy. You shouldn't feel unsafe in any relationship, you shouldn't feel controlled, you shouldn't feel anxious. Be aware.
- As you get older, people will change. You will change. Friendships will change. You'll grow away from some people and meet new ones. That's okay. Be open.
- Look out for the people you love. Keep an eye on your friends and your siblings. Support them. Be helpful.
- People will hurt you. Don't stoop down to their level. Keep your pride and your integrity. Be dignified.
- Laugh at yourself. If you can keep your sense of humor, if you can laugh at your weirdness, you take the power away from those who would use it against you. Be grounded.
- Manners matter. Please and thank you will help you more than expertise and knowledge sometimes. Learn how to take a compliment and how to genuinely give one. Be gracious.
- Stand up for what is right, even when it is unpopular. Fight the fights worth fighting, let the other stuff go. Recognize unfairness and inequality and then strive to do better. Be vocal.
- Always try to imagine what things are like for other people. Don't judge others. Be empathetic.
- Respect yourself, respect other people. Nothing substitutes for consent. Ever. Be honorable.
- Think before you speak. Don't insult others. Don't make fun of people. Know that the choices other people make are almost never about you. Recognize that although you may make your choices for your own reasons, those choices will have consequences that affect other people. Be kind.
- Stay true to who you are. People will love you for who you are. Don't change for anyone. Be unique.
- Bullies don't really grow up, they just get older. You'll be dealing with them far into adulthood. Be brave.
- If you drink, call me to come pick you up. Think long and hard before you ever try any other drugs. Be smart.
- Be careful about drinking. Alcoholism is a real thing that you will need to worry about more than some people because of the wonders of genetics. Be conscious.
- Speaking of genetics....all addiction is something you are predisposed towards. There are many mental health conditions that people in our family have dealt with, so keep an eye out for them too. Be mindful.
- Your bodies are yours, and they are beautiful. Be leery of what the mirror tells you sometimes, because it lies. If you start to think about how you look too much or worry about dieting too much or start exercising too much, please talk to me. Y'all have eating disorders running in the family too. (sorry for the genetic short straws, you guys). Be gentle.
- Take care of your body. Take care of your mind. Take care of your soul. If you need help, ask for it. Be disciplined.
- Pregnancy isn't the only thing you have to worry about when it comes to sex. Not at all. There are diseases out there too, and some of them will never ever go away. Be careful.
- Some things in school will come easy to you. Some will be difficult. There will be some subjects that don't interest you at all. Learn them anyway. Do your work. Turn in your assignments. A good deal of success in life can be measured just by showing up. Be diligent.
- Find things you love to do. Find passions and interests. Find hobbies and refine your skills. Fill your time with things that make you happy. Be great at something. If you love something, play...even if you aren't great at it. Be passionate.
- Give your time and your energy. Volunteer. Be generous.
- When you make mistakes, learn from them. Don't make the same mistake twice. Forgive others. Forgive yourself. Be compassionate.
- Don't worry too much about the past. Plan for the future, but realize that all we ever really have is right now. Be present.
- Don't try to suppress your emotions. Feel all the feelings. Your feelings are yours and they are always okay. Be genuine.
- This world isn't fair. Bad things happen sometimes. Don't let that dull your spirit. Be joyful.
- There is nothing you can't talk to me about. Nothing. Be honest.
I'm sure there are more things I'll want you to know, but for now, this will do.
I love you guys.
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