selected lyrics from
Teach Your Children
by Crosby Stills Nash & Young
You who are on the road
Must have a code that you can live by
And so become yourself
Because the past is just a good bye.
And you, of tender years,
Can’t know the fears that your elders grew by,
And so please help them with your youth,
They seek the truth before they can die.
Can you hear and do you care and
Can’t you see we must be free to
Teach your children what you believe in.
Make a world that we can live in.
I recently gave birth to my fourth child, Abigail. My “baby” before her, Miriam, just turned 10. A small part of me wants to hold on to her youth, yet I am looking forward to seeing her grow and mature and continue to mother her even as her needs change. Now I have a second daughter, but Miriam will always be my first. She, like Abigail now, was once solely dependent on me for everything. The desire I have to care for her has not diminished, it’s still a necessity of my soul to look after her. I keep checking myself, to make sure I am as supportive as I can be, but in a way that honors her spirit, growth and unique direction.
It is important to me that she feels more supported than I did through my awkward adolescent years. Having said that, I refer back to the song lyrics:
And you, of tender years,
Can’t know the fears that your elders grew by
My parents did the best they could and for that matter, so did yours. Don’t judge them, I guarantee they did things for you that you aren’t even aware of. We are incapable of remembering anything before 3 years old, our brain simply has not developed the capacity for long-term memory. More than that even, memories prior to 10 years old are very sparse, getting “written over” like a memory stick as our brain develops rapidly. That’s 10 years of life that you really don’t remember very well! Also, take note that they must have done something correctly, after all, you survived! In other words, you were taken care of well enough to be reading this right now.
That said, as parents we want to raise the bar a little higher than mere survival for our children. We want them to thrive, be happy and develop their innate talents and gifts. What are we really trying to impress upon our children? As a parent myself, I’ve noticed that I change what I choose to emphasize depending on my child’s age and also where I am in my life. Here are a few things I want my daughters to know today — it is an ever-evolving list!
I was watching Miriam at a hip-hop dance recital recently and I was overwhelmed by the joy she had in her movements, how comfortable and confident she was in her skin. It brought me such joy and I hope that she remains this comfortable with her body.
1. Your body is part of your expression.
You are physically strong. Use your body, your strong legs, your graceful hands, your sassy hips. Remain fearless in your body and don’t ever allow yourself to hate any part of yourself. Your body is perfect and strong.
2. Never be ashamed of your passions.
Do what speaks to you, read about what interests you, be friends with the people you like and don’t let others’ opinions embarrass you about what you love. Never give up on who you are or what you believe in for someone else. You are 100% worthwhile and whole, just as you are.
3. Make Friends
As Epicurus poetically stated, “Of all the things that wisdom provides for living ones entire life in happiness, the greatest by far, is the possession of friendship.”
Don’t be afraid of making new friends. Old friends who are true are not going to be alienated by new friends. Not every friend will stay in your life forever, and that’s ok. Some friends are just for certain times. While it hurts to lose a friend, it should never keep you from being open and sharing of yourself with new people in your life. Remember, everyone in your life starts out as a stranger.
(That said, DON’T talk to strangers, please. It’s all about context, which you will better understand as you get older!)
4. Talk to Me – Even if We Disagree
Don’t be afraid to tell me what you are feeling or thinking, even if you know I will disagree. It’s ok to disagree with me. I want you to feel safe to express any emotion, share any scenario with me, knowing that I love you unconditionally and there is nothing you could ever do or say that will make me stop loving you. You have a unique voice and I always want to hear it. I learn from you all the time and I don’t want to miss any of the lessons that you have to teach me.
5. You Are BEAUTIFUL
I know I’m your Mom and you sense bias, but it’s the truth. In your face I see the baby you were, the beautiful girl you are today and the woman that you will one day become. Know your worth and your value. I don’t want you to spend years of your life trying to convince yourself that you are beautiful and powerful and special. You are. Don’t ever waste your time feeling less-than. You are more than enough and you will accomplish great things.
6. You Are Your Own Person
You and I have many things in common, but you aren’t me. You are not destined to live the life I have, nor experience the same challenges. Your path is your own and I want very much to help guide you where your unique spirit needs to journey.
7. It’s Them, Not You
Nearly every time someone hurts you, lashes out, or says something that makes you feel insecure, it’s a manifestation of their own pain. It has very little to do with you, other than you happened to be in their proximity. Everyone is fighting their own battle and conflicts will arise. People will be hurtful or nasty and yes, it will hurt. Just remember, it’s really not about you, it’s about them. While you can learn something from the experience you do not need to accept their judgments.
THOUGHT TO ACTION
Check in with yourself this week.
Do you use your body as an expression of your core self?
Are you ashamed of anything you love or feel passionately about?
Do you have close friends and are you open to allowing new people to enter your life?
Do you speak your truth, even if you fear it will be unpopular?
Do you know that you are perfect, just as you are?
When people hurt or judge you, do you take it personally or can you let it go?