16 years ago I sat gazing at my curly-haired one-year-old son. My heart yearned to protect him from the cruelty and difficulty of life. A tornado-like feeling spun through my head at the enormity of my parenting responsibility.
If only I could find a way to put him in a protective bubble and keep him safe.
"God," I prayed, "How can I keep him safe?"
A quiet thought entered my mind: Teach him.
As my children continue to grow, that thought returns often: Teach them.It has been joined by another thought: Knowledge is power.
You cannot protect your children from struggles and challenges, but you can infuse them with knowledge that makes them more able to face life, push through and rise stronger than before.
Here are 7 pep talks I regularly share with my children so they have personal power in their difficult times. I encourage you to share them with your kids. In fact, don't wait another day. Do it today.
Stand up for yourself in a respectful way
Speak up for yourself. Don't let others take advantage of you. Ask questions. Speak respectfully so others will listen. Being nice does not mean giving in to others. Say what you need. Do it respectfully. Your voice matters.
Life is hard, and that's okay
Life is difficult and challenging, and that's okay. Lean into the challenges, square up and face them. You are made to do hard things. School, relationships with family and friends and life can be hard. Hard does not = bad. Hard means you have the opportunity to grow, learn and improve. You are made to do hard things.
Life is not fair
The sooner you accept life is not fair, the happier you will be. Stop chasing fairness, and rid yourself of the disappointment it brings. Stop complaining and wishing things were different. Instead, stand up, and make things happen. Life may not be fair, but opportunities to learn, have relationships and be grateful for your life are limitless. Life is as good as you make it.
Own your mistakes, and learn from them
You will make mistakes; they are part of life. At times they might be painful, and that is okay. Own your mistakes, make amends and apologize when you hurt someone. Get up, and learn from your mistakes. They are powerful teachers. Mistakes are not failures. They are gifts to learn from.
There are people in your corner: God, family, friends and teachers. They will cheer for you. They will help you if you need advice. They will teach you. They will lift you. They have your back. Remember this when times get tough. Many people have your back. You are not alone.
Be curious: Learn all you can
Learning is wonderful. It is exciting, and it is exhilarating. There is so much to learn. Knowledge helps you with the challenges you face. Make learning a life-long pursuit. Knowledge is power. Learn something new every day. Be curious.
You make your own happiness
No one is responsible for your happiness except you. Do not be a victim. Do not be a person who expects others to step in and make you happy. Others will help you through life, but they are not in charge of your happiness—you are. Get up and make your happiness.
(Bonus #8) You are capable
When you feel you are not capable, remember you are. Push though difficult tasks. Break them down into smaller, more manageable pieces. Figure out your different options. Ask for help. Always remember you are capable. You really are.
Occasionally I give these pep talks at the dinner table or at bedtime when I have individual one-on-one time with each of my kids. These are especially helpful when one of them is facing a particularly challenging situation.
Infuse your kids with confidence and personal power. Make time today to share these life-lessons with your children. Even better, share a personal story when you used one or more of these principles in your life and explain what happened. Children of all ages love stories.
Your children's potential is limitless. Help them soar and be successful as they face life and learn from it, rising stronger and more capable than before.