How do we inspire our teens? Every single parent will have a slightly different approach and if there’s one thing we know by now, after raising five teens between us, it’s that there’s no one right answer.
So this is a very personal look at how we’ve motivated our teens and what we’ve used to inspire them over the years. I’m Anna and today it’s my turn – hello! – and Louise will be writing her own article over very soon.
The power of a great quote
There are hundreds of truly inspiring women out there but when it comes to passing wisdom onto my daughter, I’ve always looked to Coco Chanel. My daughter is fiercely independent and pretty strong-minded, qualities which I’ve always encouraged, so Coco’s incredibly powerful quotes about being your own person are just perfect.
This quote has been on her bedroom wall since I bought her a print back in her tween days:
“Don’t be like the rest of them, darling.”
Other Coco quotes I love include this famous classic:
“In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different.”
And if only every teen lived by this motto!:
“Elegance is refusal.”
On a more trivial note (but what words to live by):
“Dress like you are going to meet your worst enemy today.”
It’s so hard to stop, they’re all just too good! Teens today need so badly to aim to live by this quote for the sake of their mental health:
“I don’t care what you think of me. I don’t think of you at all.”
But probably my all-time favourite is:
“The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud.”
Empathy is everything
My philosophy in life can be summed up quite simply – do as you would be done by. Or rather, treat and respect others as you would hope to be treated and respected by them.
It’s one of the oldest ideas around. Versions of it are found in Greece and Rome literature, as well as in many religions. I vaguely remember first hearing it from Charles Kingsley’s ‘The Water Babies’ when I was a child and it’s stuck with me ever since.
Ask any of my three children what one thing I believe most and they wouldn’t hesitate to quote this. And I still think it’s the most important lesson to pass on. I’m a fan of ‘Be Kind’, of course – who isn’t? But I think this is a better way to teach teens to think of others and to put themselves in the other person’s position before deciding what to say or how to act. Empathy is everything!
Be true to yourself
All teenagers worry about what their peers think of them. It’s part of life. And as parents, most of us spend a huge amount of time reassuring our teens that what matters is that they’re proud of the person they are and not trying to be someone else. But it’s SO HARD. For them, and for us watching them go through it.
If I knew how to solve this, I’d be very happy (and very rich!). But what I can say is that the more you talk to your teens, the better. And that means everything from helping them develop a style and appearance that reflects who they really are, to discussing different tastes in music, books, film, games, lifestyles. There’s so much out there to explore and discover, and if they look beyond the latest trends, they’ll be that little bit happier and more sure of themselves. We all know people who are gloriously uncaring – they’re the examples to hold up.
So I spend a lot of time talking about what and who I admire, regardless of what’s fashionable. My children know I’m not a fan of cheesy affirmations and sentimental slogans (so much so, that when we design anything for Equipp, it has to pass the “non-cheesy test”), even when everyone else is posting and sharing them. And that I continued to love minimalist style when everyone else was embracing shabby chic (remember how it was everywhere?). They have wildly eclectic music tastes, inspired by their grandfather as much as by their friends.
Although they will NEVER forget the day I lost my temper in Rome when they were stressing about how they appeared to the world, pulled up my dress and showed my knickers to everyone in the Forum gardens while shouting loudly that I’d never see them again and didn’t care what they thought of me. That I wouldn’t recommend but I like to think the rest of it worked just a little…
So that’s me. I hope you’ve enjoyed this little glimpse into how we inspire our teens. I’d love to hear how you inspire yours; please do leave us a comment to let us know.