FAMILY | A Letter to my Sons.
Right now we have two tiny boys in the house; a one year old and a three year old. This is an open letter to the teenage version of them.
To my sons,
It may seem strange to you for your mum to write a letter to the teenage version of you when you're only babies. Some might say it's even a little premature. But it will be no time at all before you'll be towering over me, and this is what I want you to know, and this is what I want to remember to tell you when the transformation from you being tiny tots to men-in-the-making takes place....
You have value. You have worth. You have dignity.
You see boys, society doesn't really value adolescence. Teenagers are often mocked, scapegoated and even feared. It was that way when I was a teenager and when your grandparents were teenagers too. It's strange really - how older people who've gone through the whole teenage thing themselves can so easily generalise and dismiss tomorrow's leaders -but often they do.
Even if those around you aren't fearful or dismissive of you, sometimes the expectations that society will have of you will simply be far too low - that's always been the way - but social media will exaggerate to you what it thinks you need to do to be accepted and fit in.
Pressure from around you will say you'll be accepted if you wear certain brands. Or if you treat girls like they're disposable. Or if you are funny at other people's expense - but don't settle for that nonsense - far more important than appearing cool is actually having a character that commands respect. (I realise that coming from your mum, this doesn't seem believable! But it's true).
And even if you escape the dismissal of society or the low expectations of society - you'll still face the pressures of exams, peer pressure and (I don't mean to weird you out here) but all the soul-searching and awkwardness that comes from puberty too.
So guys - they're interesting years!
But here's what I want you to know - right now before you embark on this adventure of growing up, discovering who you are and deciding who you want to be...
No matter how society tries to define you because you fall into a certain age range and are labelled a "teenager" THIS is who you are...
You are valuable.
You have value. The world is a richer place because you are in it. You have a unique set of qualities and personality traits and life experiences that make you unlike any other person who have ever walked the face of this earth. You have a unique perspective on the world. You bring joy and laughter to those around you. You have strengths and abilities that set you apart from others. You have the capacity to love and to give and to contribute. Society is better because you are part of it - and you can show society exactly why it's wrong about "the youth of today".
You have worth.
What I'm about to say next will seem counterintuitive and like it flies in the face of everything I said in the paragraph before - but hear me out. Society will say that you are worth is determined by your performance - academic, sporting, physical appearance, how humorous you are or how popular you are... to name just a few. But I want to say this - your worth is not determined by that. You could be the most unpopular, untalented and untrendy person in your school and still have worth - because your worth is not bound up in those things. You have worth on the basis that you are a human being - fascinating, unique and with the capacity to leave the world a better place than you found it.
You have dignity.
Society might say that because you're a teenager you're not worthy or valuable - I hope that I've convinced you that that's not the case. I hope that you can see that you are infinitely worthy and valuable and that because of that, you believe that you have dignity. You have dignity, because you are human. And as such, I hope that you have self-respect.
And here's the crunch - everyone else that you interact with - without exception - has value, worth and dignity too - and you should treat them as such.
In your teenage years, boys, you're going to get a lot of negative statements about who you are - but don't believe them for a second.
Believe that what I've said about you is true - that you have value, dignity and worth; treat others like they have likewise - and believe me, you'll live a more fulfilling and happy life as a result.
All my love,
Cathy and Scott write a parenting blog (www.gospelcentredparenting.com). They believe that faith-filled parenting allows them and others to parent with joy, optimism and humour. They love the work of Madlug for promoting the value, worth and dignity of children and young people in the care system.