You try to give pointers and impress lessons upon your sons and daughters to help prepare them for the sometimes harsh and unforgiving world. But there are some lessons you simply can't teach. The good news is that's no reason not to try!
Here are five life lessons kids need to be taught — over and over — because you know they won't get it until they go through it — but they'll remember what they've been taught.
1. Don't make permanent decisions with temporary feelings
Be it "Teen Mom," "Intervention," "True Life" or any reality TV show featuring minors who've made very adult decisions, your child needs to know feelings are very, very temporary; but bad choices can have consequences that last a lifetime. Hopefully you won't be staring a pregnancy or drug addiction in the face before your teen learns this hard lesson. Be aware of what's going on in your child's life, and be there no matter what he or she is up to. They need you when things are at their toughest.
2. Dignity and self-respect don't have a price
Besides keeping your kids away from illegal or illicit activities, your teens need to learn how to navigate the tempting and gritty underbelly of the real world in very high places. Academic dishonesty, office politics and even corporate corruption may be attractive prospects to getting ahead in a dog-eat-dog world with limited high-profile options. But there is something to be savored about your child playing fair and earning his respect and position in the world. Consequences for a cheat sheet here or a plagiarized line there might be enough to help your kids understand not to take shortcuts in school, but make sure to drill into your young ones how important integrity is to their career, self-esteem, freedom and life.
3. Passion keeps you going in times of crisis
Passion is the fire of life, so never let that flame die out in your child. If she loses interest in one thing, have her pick up something new. Crises come and go in life, and when they come, she will thank you for giving her a healthy outlet to fuel her recovery. Happiness is made all the sweeter with something to relish that's all her own.
Teach your daughter to chase her dreams. Have your son charge toward the championship. But make sure they know "winning" isn't everything, and those titles, awards and trophies are only records of the amazing experiences they've had. First place isn't the only goal, and success is defined as more than edging out your competitors. Helping them understand the importance of good friends, a job they love, and a happy home will help them go far.
Everyone has demons, and no matter how big or small, at some point your teen needs to learn to get over them or start getting through them. Sometimes this can be done on his or her own, or he or she may seek professional or spiritual counsel. Even talking to a friend could help. But problems can't be ignored forever; the effects will seep into every other part of their lives. And the longer they're left, the worst they get. Help them know it's OK to ask for help; your kids deserve to be healthy and free from those burdens.
These life lessons may be ones you as a parent are still learning yourself. But you can help keep your kids informed of these invaluable snippets of wisdom no matter what stage you've reached in your own life. They may not truly understand until they reach that crossroad, but they'll remember every word once they're there.