Have you noticed all the lists on blogs lately? Like, “12 Things Every Girl Should Know Before Entering Eighth Grade” or “8 Things I Learned Being a Parent of a Super Awesome Kid” or “25 Things I Wish I’d Told My First Grade Teacher” or maybe even “17 Things I Might Do If I Have Blue Eyed Children.” Everybody has a list. Some of them are wonderful! Some of them are ridiculous. And some of them just piss me off. Then I think about my children, or my relationship with my parents, or how college kids today know nothing just like I knew nothing but I thought I knew all the stuff, and I think, HEY! I should make one of those lists. But the rational part of my brain takes over and tells that other part to shut up! Don’t be ridiculous, there are too darn many lists out there already! But sometimes the obnoxious part wins. So, I present to you Nine Things I Hope My Children Will Learn From Me.
- Go to church. Yes, Jesus loves you and yes, the bible tells you so. We have gone to great lengths to teach you what we believe, and though we don’t agree on every aspect of religion, we share some common core beliefs. Many people advocate letting children figure out for themselves what they believe and not “forcing” religion on them. I couldn’t disagree more with that approach. You can and should figure out what you believe for yourself, but I’ll be making sure you know what I believe, as I do with any other topic. Why would religion be different? We’ll keep taking you to church, not in an effort to brainwash you, but because only there can you learn how deeply we believe these things. Only there can you hear God’s word proclaimed every time you walk in the door, and explained by different people, maybe one of which will make the most sense to you. And only there can you experience the community of believers that is special and different from a social club. If you find yourself in a church that doesn’t feel like that to you, find a different one. If you find that you don’t believe the things being taught by the particular church you find yourself in, find a different one, but go to church.
- Vote. Every time there is an election in your precinct, for any issue, any office, any levy, educate yourself on the question or candidates and pick a side. Then go vote. The whole system runs better when people are engaged in the process. Not just because the people actually chose the winners, but because it makes you a more educated citizen, increases your awareness of the issues that affect not just the nation, but your little piece of it.
- Pick a mate who has other long term relationships and a good relationship with at least one parent. If he or she has never had long term friendships, why would you assume this person is capable of a long term romantic relationship? And assuming his parents are living, does he WANT to have a good relationship with them? Now, obviously sometimes we meet perfectly nice people who have crazy people for parents. Fair enough. But assuming sanity on all parties, does she try to keep a good relationship with her parents? That tells you a lot about a person, don’t you think?
- Don’t eat crap. Well, not much, anyway. Okay, eat crap if you want to, but don’t let it take over your diet. My generation was raised on Twinkies and Wonder Bread, Tang and Hawaiian Punch. It hasn’t killed us all, but Lord knows we’ve shown over and over that this is not a good basis for a diet. So, don’t worry too much about a particular diet, but eat whole foods when you can and try to steer clear of these over processed things. You’ll feel better, and you won’t crave that garbage.
- Do things for other people that you don’t have to do. Maybe that means volunteering somewhere like a food pantry or homeless shelter. Maybe that means just raking the leaves of an elderly neighbor. Maybe it’s just reading to a little kid. It feels good, and it’s okay to feel good about it. Feeling good for doing good is not a bad thing and you should not feel guilt for wanting to feel that! So, make meals for neighbors with they’re sick or have a baby. Donate items to the charity of your choice, you probably have too much stuff in your closet at any given moment. Participate in fund raisers and public awareness campaigns.
- Don’t let people tear you down. I could go on for days about society’s effect on our girls and body image issues, or boys and the macho thing, or bullies on the playground, on and on. But in the end, decide that you are a good person and act on that. Then if others don’t agree, don’t hang out with them. You don’t have to TELL those folks they’ve been cut from your life, just don’t make any more plans with them. People either build you up, or tear you down. If you aren’t being built up by someone, find someone else to hang out with. In the end, all they have to do to build you up is NOT tear you down.
- Take care of your skin. From adolescence to the end of your life, your skin is worth caring for. This is one I’m not so good at, and my skin shows it. It doesn’t have to be expensive, the main thing is to be consistent. Wash, tone, moisturize. Moisturize your whole body. Even when you’re in a hurry, or tired, or whatever. Even when you think your skin is perfect, it won’t always be. Stay on top of it.
- Don’t chose a mate based on the high at the beginning of a relationship. Sure, we all know folks that met in high school, fell instantly in loved, and lived together happily ever after, married for 60 or 70 years. But of all the people you know, how many fall into that category? Most people who make a life-long commitment based on those new love feelings are not prepared to spend a lifetime together, even if they think they are. Yeah, you’re in love, you are sure it will last forever, and maybe it will. What’s the rush? Give it a few months, a year, maybe a bit more. Get into a routine, maybe (*gasp*) cohabitate. Have a big fight. Still think this is the person for you? Great. Invite me to the wedding. I love weddings.
- Live your values. If you believe it, don’t sit on it. You don’t have to PREACH it if you demonstrate it. Everyone has to figure that one out for himself, but if you feel like something you’re doing isn’t living up to what you believe, you should stop doing that!