Wednesday, August 12, 2015

A Letter To My Teenage Children

I was a teenager myself not too long ago, or at least it feels that way.  Now (gulp) I have two of my own.  I don’t think you can ever truly be prepared to raise teenagers.  They’re consistently moody, unexpectedly irrational, often times contentious for the sake of being contentious, and oh yeah, they know EVERYTHING.  You’d think being on the verge of adulthood would make them more relatable than when they were infants.  But that couldn’t be further from the truth.  They’re not just in a different stage of life, it’s like they’re an entirely different species.
Don’t get me wrong, they can also be quite wonderful.  I’ve begun to see shades of the people they’re ultimately going to become.  They make me laugh and amuse me on a daily basis.  I find myself surprised and impressed by the things they’ve already figured out on their own.  I can definitely see the two new best friends I’m sure to have in a decade or so.  But until we get to there, we’re stuck here.  And most days that translates to: If I didn’t already love them so much I’d try to give them back.

Don’t take that the wrong way kids.  I know being a teenager isn’t easy.  You’re under a lot of pressure and it’s coming from all different directions.  Pressure from Mom and Dad to succeed in school, pressure from your coaches to succeed in sports, pressure from your peers to fit in, pressure from your friends to try to new things, and all the while dealing with your own self-inflicted insecurities.  On top of all that you’ve got this newly created social media pseudo-reality that’s impossible to live up to.  It’s no wonder half the time I feel like I’m living with a couple of schizophrenic sociopaths.  And, I know, you probably feel like you’re living with the Gestapo. 
But there’s a good reason we’ve firmly entrenched ourselves in every aspect of your teenage lives.  To you it seems like nagging and an unjust violation of your privacy.  But to us it’s an absolute necessity.  I don’t possibly expect you to understand this now but…  We only do the things we do because we’ve already learned so many things the hard way and we’re trying to make it easier for you.  We only do the things we do because we don’t have much time left to teach you how to be good people before we send you out into the world, and that scares the hell out of us.  We only do the things we do because we’ve invested the last 15+ years of our lives loving you and taking care of you, and if anything bad ever happened to you it would literally break our hearts.  We only do the things we do because you’re our second chance at fixing all the mistakes we made the first time around.  We only do the things we do because you are literally a part of us and it’s really hard to let go.  

So please be patient with us and we’ll try to be patient with you.  Please keep yourselves out of harm’s way and try to make good decisions.  Please protect your bodies.  Please understand that even though you may feel like it, you are not invincible.  Please make us proud to be your parents, not by your accomplishments in the classroom or on the football or soccer fields, but by being a good person.  Please respect your teachers and coaches, and always try your hardest.  Please be a good friend and try to give a little more than you take.  If you simply do each of these things (even though you always seem to save your worst for us) we will know we have succeeded as your parents.  And the hell you put us through as teenagers will have been all worthwhile.

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