The best advice I've gotten from a 13-year-old

The best advice I've gotten from a 13-year-old

Friday was an early dismissal day from school and when my daughter burst through the back door, two of her good friends followed closely behind her. My daughter headed upstairs to change before they headed to the park.  Her two friends looked at me and each cocked an eyebrow.

I was sitting on the floor of the family room because I had to have the computer plugged into the modem via Ethernet cable, and I was pretty much limited to a two foot radius of sitting. I was having college flashbacks to the time when everyone used ethernet to access the internet, and when I returned to the present day, I saw that they were looking at me quizzically.

"Oh, uh, we don't normally do this," I explained. "We do use the chairs and furniture we have, honest, I'm working and just dealing with a computer issue."

Half a beat passed.

"I wondered at first, but then I thought, 'Hey, you do you,'" said one of the friends. We all laughed.

Then my daughter bounded down the stairs and off they went into the afternoon sunshine, leaving me to curse at my computer.


Today I was scrolling through my Facebook feed and saw an article by a parent who thought sending their kids to summer camp to "give them a competitive advantage in life," another about how the latest educational buzz word "grit" is oversold, and a few more on everything from AP tests to health media diets to discipline.

My head started to spin.

"Well, crap," I thought. My daughter isn't going to sleep away camp, her school has been emphasizing "grit," and I'm pretty sure I'm overall dropping the ball on the other parts of this parenting thing.

My husband saw the look on my face and asked what was wrong. I told him that recent headlines confirmed I sucked at parenting, and added in that my daughter was apparently going to get her butt kicked as a result.

"It may be possible that every kid is different, and there isn't one exact way to parent," he said gently, and then backed away slowly.


His words brought to mind the wisdom of my daughter's friend: "You do you."

I took a (long overdue) deep breath. (And I hopped off the internet.) Okay. It was going to be okay.

Summer for my daughter is about more than sleep away camp, and for me, parenting for me is about more than competitive advantage.

I hope everyone crosses the finish line with healthy kids who know how to be happy and self-supporting.

I'm so rooting for all our kids to be winners in this game of life, and their paths to that end point will all be different. In fact, finding their own path and discovering what works for them is perhaps the best, hardest, and most important part of their journey.

I'm guessing I'm not the only one to get caught up in the noise that drowns out what I already know to be true. I suspect that others are better at disregarding the headlines, but sometimes it helps to have a 13-year-old offering wise advice.  You do you.

Prior Post: National Password Day is perfect time to talk about passwords with your kids

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