Tag Archives: Parenting

Letter to My Daughter on Her First Day of High School

I woke up this morning thinking “Where did the time go?”

I remember the day you were born.  Well, actually, I’ll be honest, it’s a blur.  After being induced and then going through 24 hours of labor, I was exhausted.  And then upon seeing you, I was exhilarated… and scared…and overwhelmed.  I felt a keen sense of “everything is different now”.  I felt blessed and terrified.

I realize now, that’s what parenting feels like.  You alternate between feeling blessed and terrified.

And on your first day of high school, that describes my emotional state.

First, I want to thank you.  You have taught me so much.  I am certain now that God uses children to shape and form and teach us.  You have taught me and you continue to do so.  I am humbled and honored to be your mom.

As you enter those halls filled with thousands of other high schoolers there are some things I want  you to know.  Since you act mortified when I try to sit you down to “talk”, I figured I’d write instead and you can read it when you want to.  Plus, I don’t have time to put you in the car and drive around which seems to be the only place we can have a meaningful conversation.

Here’s what I want you to know.

There are days that will be fun and exciting and days that will really stink.  And this is okay.  It is all part of growing up and becoming who you are meant to be.  We cannot enjoy the mountaintop without the climb.

If you are going through tough times, remember, there is always hope.   There is a rainbow waiting for you at the end of the storm.  Always have faith.

Whatever is happening to you, matters to me and dad and it matters to God.  Talk to us.  You are never alone.

Sometimes people are nice and sometimes they are mean.  This has nothing to do with you and everything to do with them.  Stay nice.

Boys that are cute on the outside aren’t always so cute on the inside.  Trust your instincts.  Character matters.  If you feel something’s not right, it’s not.  Go with your gut.

Drugs are bad.  I say it every day and I know you are rolling your eyes right now but I’m serious.  Don’t even try them.  Say no.  Say it again.  Say it louder.  You are precious and your body and mind and soul will be destroyed by drugs.  Don’t even start.  Don’t even try.  If you see them in the room, leave.  This cannot be emphasized enough.  I don’t care if you need to blame me and make up outlandish excuses to get out of there – leave…run.  On that note, anyone who offers you drugs is not your friend.  End of story.

There will be all kinds of people at high school.  This will give you a glimpse of what the world feels like.  There will be lots of new faces and you will be tempted to compare yourself to others.  Don’t do it.  Comparison is the tool of the devil.  See, the fact is, there is no comparison.  Each person is unique and beautiful and created by God who loves them.  We come in all shapes and sizes…we excel in different things…we have different gifts but we are all important and vital parts of this world.  We were created for a reason and God has great plans for us.  We can’t compare ourselves because our journeys are so different.  It’s like a giant puzzle…we all look different but without one of us, the big picture would not be complete.

You have to try.  You have to try to get good grades, you have to try to make friends, you have to try to get involved, you have to try.  You have to put yourself out there to grow.  You cannot wait for life to come to you, you have to go out and get it.  This can be scary but the more you do it, the easier it gets.  Get out there…opportunities await.

Have fun.  There is no rush to grow up.  Laugh, meet new people, listen and engage.  In every situation, there is some way to eek a little fun out of it…even math class.  Life is what you bring to it so bring joy.

Believe in yourself.  This sounds trite but it’s true.  I believe in you, Dad believes in you, God believes in you but what really matters is that you believe in you.  When you believe you deserve great things, the universe will conspire to give them to you.  When you pray for good things with the expectation that they will happen, God will hear you and answer you.

I’ve heard it said that we should pray BOLD PRAYERS – that we should not ask for a C, we should ask for an A.   So here’s my bold prayer for you.

Lord, I ask for great things for my daughter…I do not ask for her to just “get by” and “do okay”.  I ask that you bless her abundantly.  I ask that you give her strength and courage and determination.  I ask that you give her eyes to see her own beauty and the beauty in the world around her.  I ask that you put her in situations that are positive and life affirming and that you give her the right words and the right actions to succeed and to thrive.  I ask for good people in her life…good friends, kind classmates, and inspiring teachers.  I ask for teachers that can light a fire in her heart and soul and make her want to shine.  I ask for teachers that understand and encourage and inspire.  Be with her.  Give her signs to know you are with her.  Burrow deep into her heart so she knows she belongs to you.  Protect her.  I ask for all of these things with the expectation that you will provide.  I trust you.

Oh, and Lord, before I end this…thank you.  Thank you for the gift of my daughter.  Thanks for knowing I need her and she needs me.  Thanks for putting us together. 

And while I’m at it…please bless and protect all kids starting high school and all moms.  This isn’t easy but it is exciting.

See, we are back to the beginning…blessed and terrified.

©2012 Sue Bidstrup, Great Big Yes™ All Rights Reserved

 

Our Culture of Personality

 

Are you an introvert or an extrovert?

I’m reading the book, Quiet:  The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking.  It really has me thinking. 

I remember I took the Meyers Briggs test when I was in my early twenties.  It came back that I was an introvert.  I remember thinking that seemed odd, it didn’t really jive with my personality and then it was explained to me that it is about where you go to get refueled.  Where do you go to recharge?  Do you go inside (introvert) or outside (extrovert) to replenish your power?  When it was explained this way, I was in agreement.  I’m an introvert.  (There are many different definitions for introvert and extrovert.  Reading about the characteristics of each helped me understand why sometimes I want to leave a party early to get in my pjs and read a book.  And why sometimes I just don’t want to go at all.)

I remember telling people this and they argued vehemently with me, “You are not an introvert!” As if they were trying to make me feel better.  As if being an introvert is a bad thing. 

Nobody is an completely one or the other, but honestly, at this point in our society, so many people “fake” being an extrovert, it’s hard to tell.  Cain talks about the “Extrovert Ideal” and The Culture of Personality.  She explains when it all started and how our society feeds into it.  Dale Carnegie, Tony Robbins, Harvard Business School, Saddleback Church, iCarly…they are all studied and analyzed here and it’s funny and kind of sad.

I’ve noticed it with my kids.  Chances are if you have more than one child, you may be raising an introvert.  A lot of the things introverts bring to the table…thoughtfulness, seriousness, sensitivity…are not valued in our society.  So, as a parent who was brought up in this society and who happens to live in a very extroverted place, I have unwittingly asked my children to conform to the extrovert ideal regardless of who they are at their core. 

Cain helps me understand this when she tells us, “child guidance experts of the 1920’s set about helping children to develop winning personalities.  Shyness could lead to dire outcomes, they warned, from alcoholism to suicide, while an outgoing personality would bring social and financial success.”    She goes on to explain, “Since then we’ve been discouraging our kids from solitary and serious hobbies like classical music that make them unpopular and introverted students were often singled out as problem cases.” 

I think back to preschool days when people, including me, started our kids younger and younger in school.  We would stand around at the park and talk about helping our kids be more “socialized” and how it’s important to send them to school early to work on socialization.  I didn’t know it then but I know it now, I bought into the Culture of Personality hook line and sinker and I was going to do everything in my power to make sure my kids had all the “right tools” to succeed.  At times these young children would be over stimulated or uncomfortable or not ready.  As I was criticizing and belittling their true nature, I told myself I was preparing them for the “real world”. 

But here’s the thing.  They already have the right tools.  They come equipped from God.  What? I think I can do better?  I think I can take something so good, a personality that has been crafted by a loving creator and placed in this world to make a difference…and “fix” it???  What was I doing? 

I was buying the load of crap this culture is selling me. 

As I was reading the book, I said to my husband, “Do you think Ghandi’s mom told him he should try out for basketball or asked him why he was reading a book and wasn’t out with friends on a Friday night?”  Please. 

I have been frustrated with teachers in a system that idealizes and rewards the extrovert without regard (or sometimes with disdain) for the introvert.  I have felt something was off but I couldn’t name it.  This book helped me.  Without the gifts of the introverts, this world would be lacking much of the music, literature, films, technology, organizations and so many other things that shape us and feed us and inspire us. 

I LOVE this book.  It brings clarity to an issue that hasn’t been sitting well with me. 

If you asked me what kind of a mother I wanted to be, I would have told you I want to love and respect my children for who they are and I want to honor their gifts and encourage them to love and bring light into the world. 

Yet, in practice, with all good intentions, there have been times that I have told them their light is not bright enough and their gifts are not loud enough and they are not good enough. 

Shame on me. 

I could quote her entire conclusion here because it is so beautiful but one line sticks out to me.  From now on, it’s my parenting motto: 

“Love is essential; gregariousness is optional.”

Amen?

I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.
— Sir Isaac Newton
 
 
©2012 Sue Bidstrup, Great Big Yes™ All Rights Reserved