How do we inspire our teens? Louise, we need your view for our blog, said Anna. So, here goes…
Everyone has their own individual view, but at the end of the day the most important aspect for me is that they see we are all individuals and must be true to ourselves in order to be happy.
My parenting mantras
Allow me to start at the beginning of my own teen years, age 13.
“Life has to be lived forwards but can only be understood backwards”.
I first read this quote and bought the print on a school trip. It has inspired me, not just as a parent, but all my life.
If I’m totally honest, I have never had a plan for inspiring my children, or for parenting in general, and although inspired in my own life by many people, I haven’t aimed to direct any of that consciously onto my kids. Does that make me a parent that is good or bad at this? Who knows, but my mantra is always “just try your best”. So that’s what I’m doing and they’re very often my words to my kids too ?
I describe this journey as steering a ship across an ocean, with precious cargo on board. That cargo is the blank canvas of our kids’ lives. I have absolutely no seafaring experience, no definite destination. The irony is, in real life I actually can’t even swim.
When writing this I realise I’m clearly no expert; simply a product of the people whose words I have collected and retained along the way. Who are those people? They’re too many to mention but here’s a start.
…from Mark Twain
A Mark Twain quote hangs in our downstairs loo. I put it there hoping the kids would bank it in their long-term memories and it would do the hard work for me. (Is that a cop out or lazy, I’m now thinking? ? )
I hope Em and Jack do read it.
…from Philip Larkin
Philip Larkin summed up the rather frightening ‘power’ of parenting and I have always carried his words cautiously behind my actions and conversations with the kids…
“They f**k you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.”
…from my Dad ❤️
I lost my own father in 2009. It wasn’t until I had my family that I realised how truly inspirational he was in my own life. I recognise from him the importance of patience and planting seeds. Em and Jack may benefit more in the future from my f**k ups or ramblings than any of us realise right now.
I’d like to share some points my Dad installed in me with you:
- One weekday evening as we sat in the kitchen together when I was in my teens, he lost his temper with my adolescent dramatics and ripped up one of my exercise books. Sounds extreme but it was to demonstrate and put something into true perspective on that specific occasion. It taught me to remember there was (and always is) a bigger picture and an alternative option, and that upset and anxiety is only ever harmful. My Dad broke through the hormonal brick wall (parents of teens, can you relate to the wall?) that evening and I received the message!
- He would always say “be transparent “. We can’t always guarantee to be right, but we can be honest.
- As an only child, he regarded siblings as the one missing regret of his life and reminded my brother and I constantly that out of all relationships in life that one should be nurtured, treasured, enjoyed, and invested in.
- Home should be a place for relaxation.
- Spontaneity often brings the best experiences, so don’t plan so hard there is no room left for the unexpected and happiness that alone can bring.
- Every human is equal and has something to offer in life and always treat them so.
…from Walt Disney
Can I humbly use Walt Disney? I’ve been really influenced by the security of enjoying the magic of his creations as a child, then recognising the ethos behind them in adulthood.
“When you are curious you find lots of interesting things to do.”
The next one, kept in my head but expressed in my own words with Em and Jack ( which may have sounded more like fish wife rants ?)
“The way to get started is to quit talking and get doing.”
And finally, the one that has stuck with me, and I pray will stick with them always is…
“All our dreams will come true if we have the courage to pursue them”.
Thank you, Em & Jack
As my family get older and life throws different curve balls our way (my recent cancer diagnosis being one), I want to thank Em and Jack mid-way through this voyage for just staying on board the ‘ship’. I hope they are already taking from my ramblings what is useful and I can say with a full heart that they are making me proud every day. They do this, aside from academic or other achievements, by being true to themselves, resilient, and recognising the positives in just ‘talking’, especially at this personally challenging time.
Thanks, kids, if you are by any chance reading this. And if you are reading this as a parent of teenagers, even though it sometimes seems hard to navigate the wall, just keep talking!
Finally, I use the inspiration, strength and compassion of my own mum. The world is full of intellectual professors and articles but when things really are crucial to our mental welfare I know no better and more dependable alternative to Google than my mum.
My worry now is making my own legacy match up to the people mentioned above… Equipp and the work that Anna and I do is part of that ?
Thanks for reading. Go Em, Jack, and all you next generation teens. We have your back.