Life isn’t easy. Challenges, opportunities, victories and losses surface. Our children have to deal with this uncertain life. Children need to hear straight talk. Lessons are to be learned.
Lesson # 1: You have to take care of 6 important inches.
Yes, 6 inches — the space between both of your ears. You think that life is more complicated, but it isn’t. You have many choices to make. Your biggest asset is your brain because thinking affects reasoning, emotions, and attitude. A major issue is to discover who you are and why you are here. Mom and Dad cannot do that for you. That’s your job.
Values and principles matter: be true to them. Don’t let others get inside your head through bullying, peer pressure, teasing, or drugs. If you do, you lose control and place your peers above your own self-interest, safety, or future. That can distort and impair your judgment cognitively or emotionally, and create a lifetime of problems and issues.
Few of the kids you are associated with now will be part of your life when you are out of high school. They will simply be memories and have no part of your longer and larger life. Things change and you will meet significant people over your life span. You decide your future: other individuals have their own future to confront.
Another thing – those teen and high school years are not the best years of your life. That’s a depressing thought and patently false, probably made up by someone drowning in pessimism. The rest of your life is not downhill: there is life to be lived.
Lesson # 2: The legs feed the wolf.
Herb Brooks, the 1980 Olympic coach, drove his long-shot hockey players to understand that hard work and commitment are the legs to success. Effort is essential in getting your mind, body and spirit in shape. Things do not always come easy. Apples of accomplishment do not drop effortlessly from a tree. Work and resilience, along with a sense of duty, are essential.
Perseverance — intellectual, physical, emotional — is essential, coupled with the character to confront reality resiliently and appropriately. Life is not like Hollywood movies. Nothing worthwhile comes easy. Commitment and fortitude are vital in creating a satisfying life of purpose and meaning.
Lesson # 3: Remember to howl in the wilderness!
You are not a lemming tied to others’ opinions, priorities, or behavior. Stand-alone on principle! Be the lone wolf that howls against injustice, unfairness or corruption. That is what citizens do. Going along with the crowd can be risky and limit your creativity.
Sure, it comes with hazards. Speaking out and taking a stand is not always popular, but what is popular is not always right. Learn to take the heat. It may not be easy. It may not be trendy. But it may be right. Character, values, ethics and integrity matter.
Lesson # 4: Remember, you are not special.
I know, this sounds insensitive from what you have been told, but you are not special and above others. If you are special, then others are not. Specialness divides. There is no such thing as royalty, which is a very bizarre concept.
However, you are unique. All human beings are unique; no two are the same with identical talent, ability, outlook, or future. We are just human beings united by our uniqueness and the common need for love and care. Uniqueness bonds us and should be celebrated because everyone born into this world brings something different. Remember we are all equal in terms of our humanity — and that should be celebrated.
Lesson # 5: You are not an orchid.
You are not like an orchid incapable of thriving in a real world of difficult conditions and fluctuating support. Orchids require a particular environment and care. The world can be a difficult place without sensitivity to your personal preferences, requirements, or expectations.
Society is not a climate-controlled greenhouse free of pressure, conflict, or demands. Stress exists. Get used to it! Find out who you are and become resilient through strong values, compassion, and complex thinking. Appreciate people who love you enough to tell you what you need to hear — both the positive and negative. They will be your polestars.
A note for parents. Children are not orchids or snowflakes and do not need ‘helicoptering’. Constantly negotiating and giving in to children’s immediate desires handicaps them in the long term to contend successfully with life. Listen to them, and reason and guide them, but don’t coddle them. They will love you for it. Loving your children is helping them become strong and adaptable so they thrive in a changing world that presents challenges and opportunities.