I know it’s hard to be a kid today, and I awkwardly discovered I may be part of the problem.
Before you get too smug, understand the problem is not the rules you have to follow nor is it the behavioral expectations I have for you . There will always be chores, there will also be respect for others, and there will always be consequences for bad behavior. Those things will never change.
However, my perceptions and permissions must change.
After a lot of soul-searching, I now acknowledge you and I, just like every other human being, are flawed creatures who have the ability to learn and love through mistakes and forgiveness. I also realize I must give us permission not to be perfect. Why do I have to proclaim permission? Because too many people made us believe it’s a requirement. Sadly, I may have made you believe it’s a requirement as well.
I regret our society has made childhood more difficult than it needs to be. You now face a 24/7 online culture that can never be turned off. Schools constantly “assess” you under the guise of improving education, and you’re constantly surrounded by poorly adjusted kids who try to tear you down as a way of building themselves up. You’re also subjected to a media and culture that is hell-bent on sexualizing all aspects of life and pumping messages about things you need to buy in order to be happy. In the world’s eyes, you will be perfect only if have thousands of likes on Instagram, you do well on standardized tests, bully your way up the social ladder, grow up way too fast and purchase the right products for all your problems. I don’t want that for you, and I don’t think you’re crazy about the idea, either.
It’s no wonder issues like depression, anxiety and extreme stress plague our society and sadly, these issues are beginning to hit children just as hard as the hit adults. The worst part is that adults created this mess, and we should have been doing our best to protect your generation from this. Unfortunately, we continue to add to it and do nothing when others try to pile it on as well.
I say we throw it all away and embrace the wonderfully imperfect people we are and always will be. My years have taught me that perfection is an unattainable goal and the relentless pursuit of it is exhausting, frustrating and maddening. There is always another goal to reach, everyone defines it differently, and you’re left with feelings of “I’m not good enough” if you fail to appease the judges.
Please understand this doesn’t mean that we stop trying. We will still work to reach our goals and do our very best; we just won’t do these things to make others accept us. We will also embrace the fact that “Good enough IS good enough.”
I don’t expect you to be the smartest kid in your class, the best athlete on your team or the most popular kid in school nor do I want you to strive for any of things. Do your best, and be the best YOU you can possibly be. There is no reason to judge you against others.
You will make mistakes, and these mistakes can be powerful teachers. Always know that I will be by your side to help you pick up the pieces, learn from the experience and move on. Your mistakes will never define you. Accept them as the life lessons they were meant to be.
You are perfectly imperfect, and I love you. Never change.