Parenting isn’t all fun and games. Lately I’ve realized there are some hard life lessons that I need to teach my spawn. She’s naturally a little softer than I was as a kid and certainly more plush than I am now. She’s got a fair bit of “people pleaser” in her and that just doesn’t do anyone any favors in life. It’s time to start teaching these lessons, not because they’re easy to learn to fun to teach but because she needs to absorb this shit at her age in order to not be a total fucking mess for the rest of her life like so many people I see.
Life Lessons To Teach Your Kids:
1. Be self-sufficient. Try not to depend on people for …. Well, anything, really. You don’t need help. The more you prove to people that you can do it without help, the less likely they are to try and prey on your weaknesses. When we depend on other people for things, we’re also opening the door for other people to exploit us. No, it’s true that not everyone will but when you can do everything on your own or at least give it the best damn try you can, you learn that you’re capable.
So you have a cast on your arm right now? Don’t let people carry your bag, Strap that shit on both shoulders and plug along; your legs work just fine. So you can’t write because you banged up your dominant arm? Don’t ask your teachers or friends to write for you. Grab that pencil with your left hand and do the best damn job you can do, no matter how fucked up it looks.
2. Stop listening to judgment. My eight-year-old is still somewhat in the “What will other people think?” stage, though she’s come a long way the past two years. It’s no surprise that I don’t give a fuck what other people think but that’s a hard concept to grasp for someone so young. Katt Williams was right – people “are going to hate you – regardless.” Mean Girls will whisper. Boys will underestimate you. No matter how nice you are, people are going to dislike you for some bullshit reason that inevitably stems from a jealousy they don’t even understand yet. None of those things are your problem. You have to stop listening and stop caring and live your life.
In 2011, Rupaul tweeted “What other people think of me is none of my business.” (Yeah, I’m sure somebody else said it, but I don’t know anything about that asshole). And he’s right; it’s not. Look, if you want to wear four ponytails and look more like Penny Pingleton from Hairspray than whatever Pokémon you’re trying to emulate, you fucking looking like the best Sylveon that you can. So you want to be a drag queen when you grow up? (Obviously, she means a fucking sick performer) You slap on that makeup and hair and you go out there and do your best Britney. And if you’re on stage and forget your dance choreography, you make up some shit that only you can pull off – and keep that smile on your face while doing it. And you leave that stage knowing that you are a badass and will act accordingly.
3. Don’t judge other people. The suburban mom crowd isn’t the easiest to fit into. Even as recently as last summer I heard that one mom made mention of “not wanting to cross me” because of my scary tattoos. Really? I went to grad school; I’m hardly in a biker gang. Kids at this age need to learn that it’s a detriment to discount others people of their race, their size or what scary tattoos they may have without getting to know them. And guess who kids learn from? That’s right; their parents. They learn from their mom, who is afraid to admit to who she really is because she doesn’t want to lose “friends,” or influence or whatever it is that scares the shit out of these people. Don’t fall in!
Give everybody a fair chance. Don’t let your prejudice, whether learned or that inherently exists in us all because we’re born flawed, cloud your view of who people really are beneath all of the bullshit. But at the same time – know when to walk away from toxic shit. Once people have proven themselves to you, take your leave when the need arises.
4. Stand up for what’s right. I don’t mean “do the right thing.” This isn’t life advice to do the Nancy Regan and “just say no.” Rather, stand up for what’s right for you, whatever that may be. I am a champion for injustice and I want my kid to know that even though it’s sometimes exhausting to swim upstream, it’s sometimes completely necessary.
Don’t back down. Speak up when someone has been wronged. Do this even if it means you lose your place and even if it means upheaval. Learn to say “no” or at least “thanks but no thanks.” I don’t care how much “trouble” you get into or how ostracized you may think you’ll become – do what’s right for you.
I know that these are things my kid has needed to hear and that I’ll need to reinforce for the next ten years or more. Sure, these all sound like cliché pieces of advice but it’s quite a challenge to teach lessons I know that some thirtysomethings haven’t grasped yet. Still, puberty isn’t the only talk we need to have with our girls, especially. The birds and the bees are important, sure. The tampon talk is necessary, yes, but so are these four pieces of advice because what we teach them now will shape how they’ll view themselves as they grow.
What do you think? What are the tough life lessons you’re teaching your kids?