ChicagoNow is hosting blogapaloozahour during which we have one hour to write a post on a prompt that is revealed at a given time. "Give advice to a person, place or thing." I found this to be interesting because, in the past few days, I've been debating just how much advice to give my tween.
I've been torn between thinking that sharing my experiences as a tween could be helpful or perhaps spare her some uncomfortable moments, and thinking that there are life lessons that you simply must learn for yourself. I've worried that giving too much advice means she'll just tune me out, and so is it better to keep my mouth shut until she asks or it seem to really matter.
I see advice as being different than other aspects of parenting. Keeping her safe, healthy, nourished and educated are not matters of advice in my mind. If I threw caution to the wind and decided to unleash a torrent of advice that applies to my tween or any other tween, here's what I would say:
1. Love yourself.
2. Before you leave the house, ask yourself, "Do I have everything I need?" (To my tween, I know I've told you this 25 times. I will stop telling you when actually start doing it, says the mom who had to turn the car around 2 hours ago.)
3. Be nice. To everyone. You don't have to be their best friend, but be kind. Yes, even to the kid that has no friends. Even to the kid who wasn't or isn't particularly nice back to you. And this applies everywhere, including online.
4. Think. I know that this sounds stupid to you. You think that you think that you think all the time. But I'm talking about really thinking. Not going on autopilot, not coasting. When you do think, you have some amazing thoughts. Again, this advice applies when using the internet. Most kids don't think. They don't think that anyone will see that picture, you don't think that colleges will see your social media, you don't think that the kid will see that one small thing you write. You will never, ever be sorry that you really, truly thought abut what you put online.
5. Try not to take yourself too seriously. It may seem like the world is ending. You think that everyone in school is laughing at you. You think that whatever is wrong in the moment will stay with you the rest of your life. More likely than not, you will forget about it in a matter of weeks. (Or even days, but I'm following your dramatic lead.)
6. Enjoy your time. Right now you feel pressure when it comes to school, chores, activities and just fitting in. I'm not saying that things are easy. They are not. But I am saying that you have more time to pursue things you love right now than you will at other points in your life. You have time to play sports, play an instrument, act, dance, read, be with your friends, go to dances, play video games, watch movies, be silly, film movies, bake cookies, attend summer camp. High school will be different, and busier. You will not have quite this much time with this little responsibility for a while. Enjoy it.
7. Wear deodorant. I've heard this from school counselors, I've been in school gyms, I have a nose, and I know that you have body odor. I know a lot of you think that you don't need to do so. You are wrong.
8. Don't be afraid to ask for help. My tween right now feels like she shouldn't have to ask for help. And she doesn't. And that makes life harder than it needs to be. It's a really fine line for tweens. They very much want to be independent. And parents are pushing them to be more self-sufficient. But here's a secret: You can't go it alone. Whether it is getting a jar open or learning how to divide decimals or trying to figure out why you feel so very sad or not knowing how to say no to friends who want you to do something that you know you shouldn't do, people want to help you. But often you need to ask them. Another secret: helping you makes them feel good.
9. Make friends with your body. Do you feel like you've been inhabited by an alien right now? Yeah, sadly, that's how the tween years go. Weird stuff goes on. A lot of weird stuff. And you've heard it before but it can't hurt to be reminded that it's likely all very normal, even if it feels completely abnormal. But appreciate the wonder that it is.
10. Smile. Your smile is beautiful. It makes the world a better place. Whenever you feel like it, flash that smile. It will work wonders for those around you, and it may just make you feel good, too.
Please let me know what advice you want to pass along to our children in the comments.
To see what advice other ChicagoNow bloggers dished up in an hour, check out all the Blogapalooza Hour posts here. Hopefully you'll discover a few new awesome bloggers you love.
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