The following letter—15 lessons for 15 years—I wrote to my son on his 15th birthday, January 9, 2017. I left the letter on my son’s pillow. After he read it, he came to my room, gave me a hug and said: “Thank you.”
I felt like a large stone was caught in my throat and I struggled to blink away heavy, bittersweet tears to no avail. I know my son needs me less now than he did when he was young, but I realized he still needs me in different ways. I hope I will always be there for him when he reaches out.
My baby has grown into a handsome young man. At 15 years old, you are observant, kind, curious, passionate, discerning, loud, stubborn, and loving. As you make your way through the thick forest of life, you will stumble and fall, leap and soar. You will ignore parental advice, and take dodgy advice from a stranger. You will make good and bad choices. You will learn from the mistakes you make as well as the glory you will achieve. You are courageous, good and young. Believe in yourself. I do.
15 lessons for 15 years
- Read. I know you don’t like to read books for pleasure, but keep trying to find an interesting author, subject, or genre. You will learn new things, develop a healthy skepticism, expand your vocabulary, broaden your imagination, and begin to make sense of the adult world you will enter.
- When you have a problem, write through it. Writing helps you sort things out and see things you can’t see in your head. It also helps you heal.
- Tell the truth. You can never go wrong by being honest, but if you’re not sure, be diplomatic: an ugly baby is probably a very happy baby.
- Listen. When someone is talking to you, listen wholeheartedly. You can learn a lot about others by not talking too much.
- Respect a person’s point of view, but make your own decisions.
- Laugh. It not only makes you feel good, it’s contagious.
- Everyone loves a story. Whether you write or not, describe people, places and things with descriptive words that paint a picture, shape a character, create tension, solve a problem, and tell a story.
- There is no silver bullet. There is only hard work — mentally and physically. Set your goals and reach for them.
- Stay awake. Be present and mindful of the task at hand.
- Take responsibility for your own actions. Don’t blame the tools or another person. Remember, when you point a finger at someone or something, there are three fingers pointing at you.
- Play. Don’t waste your time thinking about playing. Just go out and do it.
- Practice loving kindness for yourself and others.
- Be grateful. Everyday. We only have one life, one body, one world, so be grateful for what you have.
- Look people in the eye and give a firm handshake. It makes a good first impression.
- Call your mom. Need I say more?
Have you written a letter to your child lately?
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