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July 17, 2022

Dear younger self, Be kind to the older version of YOU

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.

You are close to “desperate” to grow up, because you feel that a certain age is the ticket to freedom or a way out of your current, seemingly confined life or difficult situation. There comes a time in your preteen or early teen life when you truly start thinking differently from your parents and that alone can set you off and end up in disgruntlement and upset. It’s normal, it’s also necessary, because discussions on different subject matters or things you generally care about are important! They are an integrate part of learning, understanding, ironing out misconceptions and exchanging unique perspectives based on different experiences. Remember that your parents’ upbringing was most likely quite the opposite of yours. No parent leaves the hospital with a customized manual for each of their children. In fact, each parent has their own personal luggage they carry with them every day. Parents are just older, “grownup” versions of You! Their problems or struggles might look different than yours, but they are not. Your difficulty with a math, chemistry, gym or art are equivalent to your parents’ difficulties of learning new procedures, software programs, CRMs, or finding their way out of piles of never-ending spreadsheets and projects. Your upset of not having extra cash or handouts for getting the newest phone, pair of sneakers or brand new car is similar to your parents holding back on replacing the washer, vacuum or their own wardrobe, because their money earned goes to serious necessities rather than just satisfying Wants for fun items or recreational activities. And trust me, they are just as upset and agitated about not having the extra funds for your or their Wants. Oftentimes, their monetary sacrifices for items they saved to purchase, goes to the kids.

You might think adults have it easy, because they just go to work, come home and have no homework; they can “just sit down and relax.” Can they? Really?

Moms especially have multiple, but often undetected und under-appreciated jobs after their actually 40+ hours of work they get paid for. When they get home, they clean, wash, cook, fold laundry, pack lunches, purchase groceries, fill out forms, make schedules and help you stay organized with your school and after school schedules. Your lunchboxes, snack supplies or empty wardrobes don’t miraculously fill themselves up.

You might complain about being tired and cold, but your parent(s) drive you to all your social gatherings, practices, games and competitions – they get up earlier and let you sleep as long as possible with food and snacks ready to go. They are your biggest cheerleader regardless of how you feel about your own performance. They are your personal EMT, chauffeur, private chef, event planner (hello birthdays!), personal shopper, soundboard for all your problems and/or complaints, private assistant, tailor, and caretaker of all your emotional and physical needs. Did I mention that they don’t get paid for THOSE jobs? And all the while, they deal with their very own turmoil, disappointments, letdowns, insecurities, tiredness and disagreements. And yes, in order to not fall apart themselves, they have rules; not to punish you (unless you truly deserve it), but to keep everyone’s sanity at base level.

Think about what you just read for a moment; truly let it sink in and contemplate on the information.

As teenagers we are often caught up in our seemingly unfair world. Most of the time, we see everything only from our own perspective, hardly ever taking others’ viewpoints in consideration. So, as parents (and former teenagers) we can understand both sides – yours and the teachers’, coaches’ and friends’. And even though as parents we can’t always 100% match your exact situation, we do our best to find comparable situations to relate to you and guide you through your struggles as best as possible. Yes, we also have sent an email to the wrong person, struggled through staff meetings, presentations and fought with insurance companies, waited FOREVER on hold just trying to talk to customer service or wanted to throw our computer out the window. Parents are YOU from the future! They are not perfect. They mess up. They say or do the wrong things sometimes. They (according to you) embarrass you, but never on purpose (mostly).

But what about YOU? You, as the teenager, so engulfed in your day-to-day: have you ever tried to do what you expect from your parents? You know; trying to understand where they are coming from? Understanding that they might not have homework, but they do all the housework and professional job to pay bills versus working to spend money on fun things. Can you imagine how your life would be different if your parents actually did that? Work to spend money on things they truly want to spend their hard earned cash on? I bet it would be much different from things on your wish list.

Yes, you didn’t ask to be born, but neither did they and yet, here we all are.

Remember, they’ve not been parents before either. They’ve not been their age before, but they have been your age! So, when your parent(s) give advice, it’s hoping for you to avoid certain negative situations or repercussions. They are trying so hard for you not having to experience the same kind of pain or negative outcomes. My suggestion (from a parent’s perspective): when you have a problem, provide all of your thought process to them. This will avoid them seemingly annoying you with suggestions you have already thought of. Your parents won’t know unless you tell them. Parents are not mind readers! Essentially, we are putting together a picture with lots of missing puzzle pieces and at times, we are just as frustrated as you are about the disconnect. It sometimes feels like a game show with a timer ticking, about to go off at any given time. Crunch time all the time! You are throwing words and we are doing our best to form sentences that make sense; and still, we don’t always speak the same language. Trust me, we wish we could, in order to avoid all conflicts with our kids and it would make our lives much easier, too. Your parents are your team mates! Play well together, win together!

And yes, we have to say NO sometimes. And you will “hate” us (parents) at times. And it hurts us (a lot), but if we don’t make you upset occasionally (not on purpose), we don’t do our job well. We look out for your best interest at all times. If you guarantee full honesty on your part, we will walk through hell and back for you, yes you!

Ever noticed how your parents bicker with your grandparents? Yup, your parents arguing with their parents. Again, that’s you and them in the future.

While you are pouting in your room, saying unkind things under your breath, we (parents) don’t feels so great about the just occurred disagreement either. We replay it on our heads, analyzing the conversation and how it could and should have gone differently and better (in a perfect world). Remember: you are arguing with an older version of a teenager and vice versa. We base our parenting styles on personal experiences and self-learned information from books of experts in their field. Parents still go to school in a way; the school of life. All while earning an income, holding up a household, and raising kids, and just finding our own place in society. Cut us some slack – We have been where you are, but we’ve never been where We are! And we certainly have never been this age with a child your age.

In the end, all we really hope for is that we have equipped you with as many tools as possible to live your life happy, confident, fulfilled, and loved. We won’t here be forever, so let’s focus on the things we agree on; our similarities versus our differences. Let’s spend time together now. Let’s ask all the questions now. Have conversations about nothing and everything now, because one day, you won’t be able to pick up the phone to hear your parents’ voice or stop by to see their face. Let go of all the resentments and truly cherish each other’s presence. Life is short; much shorter than you think. So, dear younger self: be kind, considerate, adventurous, authentic, and empathetic, find love and give love, and most importantly, never take the people in your life for granted. Ever.

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