I do realize that this is a column for single parents, but this article is for your teens. I encourage you to read it first and then share it with them.
I am one of those fortunate parents who believes that their children share everything with them. The truth is that they probably don’t; but they do share a lot and from our conversations I have learned much about them, about others in their peer group, and about myself. I would like to take a few minutes to share some of this with you, because while you have probably heard it from your parents, I believe that you need to hear it from another perspective. (All of us have a hard time accepting that our parents know more than we do – that never changes.)
1) There is no boy or girl who can determine your self-worth. You are not worth more if you have a boyfriend or a girlfriend. Your value is based upon who you are – just you alone. It is not dependent upon the acceptance of any other human being – not that group of popular kids who always think they are better than everyone else; not the jocks; not the really smart kids; and not the ones who are rich or believe that the rules don’t apply to them. They can only determine their own value; just like you are the only one who can determine yours. Your value is not based upon how pretty or handsome you are, how smart you are, or how much money you have. Your value is based upon what you believe in, how dedicated you are to your beliefs, how determined you are to achieve your goals, and how you handle your integrity and your reputation. I know, it sounds hokey. But you will realize one day that it is true and that what all those other people thought was never really important. Until then, if you are being harassed, let someone know. Tell a friend, a teacher, your parents – but do not keep quiet. Allowing them to get away with it will only encourage them to continue.
2) No one – not your principal, your teachers, your parents, your pastor, your friends – has as much control over their life as they want you to think that they do. And you must accept your limitations in “controlling” your own. Life is not predictable. We can plan; we can “be careful”; we can take every precaution – but there will always be those factors that we cannot manipulate. Some are good, some are not. Know this. Don’t be surprised when the unexpected happens. At the same time, don’t use this as an excuse to make bad decisions or behave irresponsibly. Take responsibility for yourself and your actions and you will not need to feel guilty when life throws you a curve ball. And you will be more prepared to handle it.
3) Drugs, alcohol, self-mutilating, eating disorders, nor sex are not going to solve your problems. In fact, they will only make them worse. Trust me, I know this from personal experience. All “highs” are momentary and when it is over you have a new set of problems: will your parents find out, will you get busted, where will you get the money for the next high? The one that few think about – will the next time kill me? Yeah, I know – that’s just stupid. Go back to #2. You don’t know when your bestfriend driving the car under the influence is going to lose control of it. You don’t know when the dealer has cut his supply with something toxic to your system. You don’t know when your partner has HIV. Eating disorders? It doesn’t matter how thin you get, you are not going to feel any better. You are always going to want to lose just a few more pounds. You can run 15 miles a day and it won’t be enough. You can throw up every bite you eat, and you will still hate the way you look in the mirror. I promise. In addition, you are going to damage your heart, your digestive system, and even your teeth and bones. Eating disorders do not solve anything. Don’t buy into the hype.
So, what can you do? Trust. Believe. Have a little faith. Read next week’s article for details.