Before I start, I have just one disclaimer to make: I have the best parents in the world. Seriously. If Solomon had been monogamous and Mother Theresa would have been of the marry-able nature, and they had been my parents, they couldn't have been better...
Too much? Ok.
Truly, however, my parents gave me the best advice in the world and kept me on the straight and narrow even during the times I'm sure they just wanted to yank their hair out.
There are just a few things that, as a whole, I feel are either left out or not discussed enough as teens battle their way through the ruthless years of high school. Granted, even with my parents telling me these things, ultimately the responsibility was mine to choose to embrace it for myself (I have a thick skull like that). Here are three of the biggest things I wish I would have understood better as I battled through the trenches of high school and life.
1) You won't be friends with them forever.
I'm finally starting to get a handle on this. All it took was one move, one high school experience, two different colleges, and a plethora of different jobs.
Now, I'm one of the fortunate few, but a couple of the best friends I have in the world are actually people I met in high school and stayed close with. This is not the norm.
And that's such a critical thing to understand. As a rule, most people don't stay close to everyone they once considered their "BFFs." And that is a good thing!
To stay best friends with every single person you ever once held near and dear likely means you have done no growing. No stretching. No pushing the limits of what you are capable of. Some people will move on without you as they grow. Some people will stay behind as you grow. I'm not saying we should purposely ostracize ourselves out of spite, but there comes a point we have to realize that a chapter of our life is complete and it's time to move on.
We have to allow ourselves that. I can think of many, many friends through the years that I anguished over and fought the tides wondering, "What did I do? What went wrong? What do I need to do to get them back? I have to get them back!" And the simple truth of it was that our friendship had reached an ultimatum because we were both changing.
God brings people into our lives in moments of need. For a specific purpose. Often when that moment is over, we drift apart again. I've finally reached the point that I can be grateful for these dear friends and the impact they made, but close that door with dignity. Instead of allowing the stress and heartbreak from so many friends that drifted away, I wish I would have known this sooner.
2) Sex is a part of life.
Yes, yes. I got the birds and the bees speech. That's not really what I'm talking about.
I think it's actually because my parents were such amazing parents that this wasn't a topic that was frequented in our household. But for many Christian and non-Christian families alike, this is an area people don't like to talk about. But isn't that like...one of the top three things in a teenager's mind at any given time? (By that I mean, attraction to the opposite sex in general.) This is an area that has to be- HAS TO BE- wide open for communication. There are questions and curiosities in this age group that are begging for answers. And, allow me to be blunt, if parents don't keep the doors of communication wide open in this realm, they will go looking for answers somewhere else.
Sex is something that should be spoken of with dignity and respect. Not something to be taken lightly. But it should never, EVER be conveyed as a taboo subject. The saying goes, "If you can't have it, you'll want it all the more." If parents aren't willing to discuss sex like it's a part of normal every day life, the internet and young peers with the same burning curiosities become their education and reference points. Scary. Period.
The Lord knows I have no room to talk because I'll be the last person in the world to want to open up that can of worms. There will be red faces and sweaty palms and possibly arrhythmias. But talk about it, talk about it, talk about it! And not just "I want to talk to you about something....wait for sex. Ok, good talk! See ya later." Talk about how far is too far. Strike up a conversation about appropriate boundaries. Talk about how wonderful and special it is so your child doesn't want to give away something so precious cheaply. Talk about it.
Talk about it so it isn't the Big Bad Wolf of conversation and your kids will be comfortable telling you the first time they hold someone's hand or the first time they kiss. So that kids don't have this burning curiosity to pull back the curtain and explore this mystical world that "is only for grownups." Things that are secretive and deemed "off limits" tend to capture our attention more than anything else. Yes?
So put it out there! I mean, come on, have you read Song of Solomon? The Bible doesn't even shy away from it. So neither should we with the proper balance of propriety.
3) Make sure there are people in your life that don't agree with you.
The age old adage, "If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything."
That doesn't mean we need to look for ways to go out and make people hate us. That doesn't mean we need to actively search for ways to offend people. That doesn't mean we get up in arms every time someone doesn't cross their "T's or dot their "I"s exactly the way that we do. That's nit-picky. And annoying. A fine line exists between standing your ground and being abrasively obnoxious. But conviction and belief on essential issues will always create some adversity.
Think about your friends, family, and the people you brush up against regularly in your life. When was the last time you stood your ground and stated that you didn't agree with them. Or are you just the kind of person who sits back and smiles whenever someone states something that is deeply against everything you believe? Possibly downright offensive? It is FINE to state how you feel. It's alright to present an opposing position.
Repeat after me: "I have the right to my beliefs."
Teens have a tendency to go-with-the-flow. Have an innate terror that stepping on toes and making waves will lose them their social hotspot (I was there. We all were.). That's the time to instill the core belief that you better darn well have some enemies in life from time to time or chances are you're a pansy with no backbone....too much? But the truth remains...you would basically be a pansy with no backbone. (Way to go, Cream Puff.)
In an age of political correctness, we seem to have developed an attitude of servitude and martyrdom regarding our beliefs, faith, and lack of fortitude. We're willing to sacrifice our convictions for a pseudo-sense of calm. NO! Not acceptable.
Guess what. Someone will be annoyed and irritated that you don't believe the same way they do. That's ok.
And guess what else. If someone doesn't like you because of what you believe *gasp*, even that's ok.
Do it with love. Have a sweet spirit about it. Be conversational. Not confrontational (unless the situation absolutely demands it). But you have the right to stand up for yourself and your beliefs.
"Be sure you put your feet in the right place, and stand firm." -Abraham Lincoln
"Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." -Winston Churchill
So there you have it. Three things that teens and young adults greatly benefit from having hammered into their heads. Anything you want to add to the list? Anything that parents would like to weigh in on (you're absolutely the experts). We would love to hear from you! GO!
Picture Credit: radicalparenting.com