1. I love you. I love you more than anyone or anything in this world. These are going to be the most trying times in our relationship. These are the years when you will most likely ‘hate’ me and I will be trying to keep it together, the years where I will be ready to kill you and hug you all in the same breath. But I still love you, no matter what.
2. Listen to and respect me. I may not know everything about everything, but I have experienced life, and I know enough to keep you safe. I know enough, because I have been through it in some way or another. Nobody was born an adult. We had to learn and grow, just like you.
3. Respect authority. Respect those in charge. They are not always right and sometimes you have to make moral decisions when they fall short. However, I expect you to have respect for those in charge. If you know someone is doing something wrong, talk to me or another adult you trust.
4. I will NEVER be your FRIEND — at least, not at this point in your life. I will be your PARENT — who adores you, and will do anything to protect you. If you do something wrong, I will know and you will reap the consequences of your actions.
5. Talk to me about your problems. At this age, it may seem difficult and you may not want to get in to trouble, but I can help you. I am here for a reason. Maybe you will be in trouble, but you will also be able to face yourself in the morning, and we will get through whatever it is together. I promise to take myself back to those awkward years of being sort of unsure of myself and who I was so that you will find it easier to confide in me.
6. Don’t be a bully. You would hate it if you were being bullied so don’t do it to others. I hope that if you see someone who is being bullied, you help them, and that you befriend them. Kindness matters. Stick up for the underdog. Allow yourself to be a believer in karma. What you put out into the universe will come back to you.
7. Stand up for yourself. Don’t allow people to just walk all over you. Be kind, but do not allow others to mistake your kindness for weakness. Be fair and treat others the way you wish to be treated.
8. Educate yourself. School is important. I don’t expect you to know everything, but I expect you to be well-rounded, educated, and able to carry on an interesting conversation. Study hard. I expect you to be able to land a good job one day.
9. Read a book. Books can take you to the depths of your imagination, and in a world of technology and made up words, it will also expand your vocabulary, your spelling, and quite frankly, your ability to communicate and speak.
10. Learn a sport or get a hobby. It will enable you to be social, and will teach you skills that you will take with you for life. It will also teach you how to work with others and hopefully encourage you to be a leader and a team player.
11. Do your chores proudly. Cook your own meals, make your own bed, and do your own laundry. I am not the maid service. I work too, and I’m tired. You are a member of this house and you are expected to help. One day you will live on your own and you will need to have these skills.
12. Save your money. Maybe you have an allowance or a part-time job — start to save your money. Learn about investing, and do it young. Invest, and save your dollars so that you can live comfortably and hopefully won’t know what it is to struggle financially. Money isn’t everything, but it helps to have it.
13. Be charitable and help others. Giving isn’t just for others. It makes you feel good about yourself and it helps build character. If you see someone who is struggling, try to assist them. Hold a door for a stranger. Help the elderly. Be good-natured towards children, animals, and people in general.
14. Don’t be complacent about the environment. It’s not nerdy to recycle. This is your home. If you destroy it you are hurting yourself and future generations. Be part of the solution, not part of the problem.
15. Peer pressure is inevitable. I know that you will most likely be offered drugs or alcohol. My hope is that I will have raised you well enough to make good decisions about all of these issues — smart decisions based on morals and thought. I hope you don’t think for one minute that being high or buzzed is cool, or even feels good. It doesn’t. It completely impairs your thinking. It impairs your mobility. It stops you from being able to make good decisions. Sometimes you know your limitations, but many of the times you will not.
16. Sex can be beautiful, but you should wait. Your raging hormones are in full swing right now, but sex is more than a feel-good time. It is a responsibility. Babies are a blessing, but who wants to be a teen parent? It will make attending school, maintaining friendships, and just being young in general far more difficult than they need to be. Enjoy your youth. As for STDs — well, that’s one curse you don’t want to live with. Those are two things you may just deal with if you have sex too soon and are not smart about it. While condoms and birth control can help you, only abstinence is foolproof. Try to remember that when you are hot and heavy in the back of the movie theater.
17. And no means no. Always. Don’t ever push someone else into having sex with you. That IS rape. Do you like jail?
18. Go outside. Sunshine is good for you. Take it in. Love it, lavish in it. Don’t lock yourself away and be a slave to technology. Go smell a rose and swim in the ocean.
19. Put your cell phone down when you are on a date. Seriously, put it down. Look the other person in his or her eyes. Engage in conversation. Ask a lot of questions and get to know this person.
20. Put your cell phone down when you are engaging in any human contact, for that matter. People like when you pay attention to them. It is a skill that has been lost on my generation, but generations before mine knew it well. Let’s bring it back.
21. Be a good sibling and friend. Be kind to your siblings, both older and younger. Treat them with the esteem in which you wish to be treated. The same goes for friends. Respect them and be loyal. Treat your siblings as friends and your friends as siblings because your siblings are the friends you were born with and your friends are the siblings you choose.
22. Follow your dreams. Chase them at all times. If one door closes, another one will open. Don’t ever let someone tell you no; you cannot do something. You can do anything you set your mind to. You are never too old to follow a dream.
23. Don’t crush someone else’s dreams. Be a leader and an encourager. Inspire others. Don’t knock them down.