Our oldest daughter Brienne recently turned 13. We now have a teenager amongst us.
I began thinking of all the things I wanted to share with her about the next few years, and so I decided to write my thoughts down in a letter.
To my daughter on her 13th birthday:
Sweet girl, first of all, let me say how proud I am of the young woman you are becoming. You amaze me with your wit and humor, your passion for life. Don’t ever lose your enthusiasm.
On our parenting skills
You were our first child, our guinea pig in many ways. We experimented a lot with parenting, and I’m sorry if we screwed you up in any way. (I’ll help you pay for therapy if you need it as an adult.)
But here’s the deal: I will make decisions forbidding you to go to “that party” or date “that boy” and you will hate me for it. It’s okay; I can take it.
I want the best for you, but I will make mistakes. I will choose wrongly, I will judge your friends unfairly. Forgive me when I do and help me see the good in those you surround yourself with.
I made many mistakes when I was your age and I want you to learn from them. But sometimes I will let you fail because that’s how we learn in life. When you do take a misstep, get up, dust yourself off, and move on. And come to me because I love you and I’m here to help you.
On friends and boys
You will be tempted by your friends to participate in things you don’t want to do, from gossiping to viewing inappropriate things online to trying drugs. Stand up for what you know to be right. You don’t believe this now, but they will respect you for it. I promise.
You will be tempted to do things with boys. I know how hormones work. Again, stand up for yourself and they will respect you more than you can imagine. And if they don’t, they aren’t worth your time.
Choose friends (and boyfriends) who will lift you up and encourage you; who love the Lord and can encourage you in your faith. You become like the people you surround yourself with so choose your friends wisely.
Think about what kind of person you want to become and then look for those kinds of people to befriend.
And while we’re talking about friends and boys, always put your friends before your boyfriends. Your friends will be your friends for a lifetime but a boy will only be around for a little while. Don’t ruin a friendship because of a boy.
On your gifting
Keep working on your talents because you never know how they will be used in your future. Don’t give up something you love just because it’s not cool, whether it’s a talent, a favorite band, or a new hairstyle. Be yourself.
Do your best in school, but know that academic skills are not the be all, end all of life. Find something you’re passionate about and pursue it.
Invest in those around you. Put others ahead of yourself – do something each week to serve someone else, whether it’s your siblings, a friend, a neighbor, or someone less fortunate than you.
Always be kind, no matter how others are treating you.
On social media
Never say something on social media that you wouldn’t say to someone’s face. What you post online now could come back to haunt you in the future as you apply to college or look for a job. And don’t take to heart what others say about you on social media. Some people are just mean. Ignore the critics and listen to those who are cheering you on.
On enjoying life
Have fun! Don’t take life too seriously. Be silly and crazy. Don’t lose your spontaneity. Don’t worry about what others think. Love who God made you to be and then BE that person.
Keep Jesus first. Read His Word every day, even when you don’t feel like it. Ask Him to speak to you through His Word. Trust that He knows what is best for you.
I can’t believe you’re a teenager. I love you, and I’m honored that God chose me to be your mom!
All My Love,