This type of conversations ususally start with “things were so different in my time” or “you people of this generation have it so good”. These are cliches I wish not to go into. I would rather begin by telling you that this is a conversation I wish my father had with me. I also sincerely hope i dont mess up the message I want to pass to you by allowing my desire to protect you override my desire for you to have a fulfilled life.
The world today is not so different from what it was yesterday. Cultures are still clashing, people are still trying to define what is moral and what is just, teenagers are still trying to experience life and do so without putting themselves in trouble. The challenges you face today as a teenager have the same fundamentals as the ones older people passed thru’.
As a teenager you may think the most important thing is to get a driver’s license or be able to go to a bar and order alcohol. That couldnt be further from the truth. The most important thing for you in this stage of your life is to find out who you are and be true to yourself.
Remember where you come from and the values your mum and I tried to teach you. As you go about trying to be ypur own person, try not to be a “crowd pleaser”. Learn to assert your individuality without being arrogant. Learn to be an example of what is good among your peers without being seen as opposed to your friends. Once in a while your peer influence will win you over, dont make a big deal out of it. You may do some wrong things you never imagined you are capable of ,learn from them and move on.
Be careful of the company you keep. Dont associate with people engaged in activities you have no interest in. Dont insult and abuse girls when you think you have a right to or because others are doing it. Respect them and be a voice for them whenever you can. Dont be a bully and dont encourage or befriend bullies as you know bad friends corrrupt good manners. Always speak for the little guy even when everybody is out for his blood. It pays to see things in a panoramic view and not a parochial one.
In this era of being politically correct and morally wrong be careful about what you say and how you say it. Don’t ever be shy about what you believe in, calmly and clearly make your stand known on specific issues. Don’t insult or abuse those who do not share your beliefs and dont shove your beliefs down everybody’s throat. People are allowed to have their own beliefs different from yours.
In your quest for independence you will become more argumentative with your elders and even more confrontational. Learn to tone it down and balance the need to be heard with the need to respect your seniors. We will not agree on everything but with my benefit of experience I will have more insight than you in certain things. You just need to understand it and not make it a fulcrum for unhealthy exchanges.
Its not easy to find yourself but if you are dilligent enough you can be successful. At your age you will think you have a lot of years to live so you can do what you want. That will be a very wrong impression to have. Learn to live each day as if its your last. Show love, show respect, impact lives positively, reconcile with aggrieved friends and never end the day without doing a proper examination of your life for that day. In that examination note your wrongs and find ways to do better if you have a tomorrow.
No matter how angry we make you as your parents, never believe we dont have your goodwill in mind. In this stage of your development a lot of things will become irritating to you, like your little brother wanting to follow you everywhere or you having to babysit your twin sisters when you could have been out with friends. Its all part of “playing” family because you dont stand alone. You are their father when am not around so take that responsibility with all the seriousness it deserves.
Growth and development comes with its own responsibility, never think the teenage years are free of them. You will do your house chores and help out as much as you can in making the family run smoothly.
Theres so much I need you to know and I wish that you will know but I cant tell you everything. Somethings you have to learn for yourself, some wisdom you have to acquire from experience.
Of all the learning that you will do, its important that you know, understand and believe with all your heart that your family is the bedrock of your existence. No matter how hot or cold or unhealthy it gets out there, we are always here for you. I might be in “father mode” when you feel like talking. Be patient with me and allow me to help when I can. Your brothers and sisters may seem little and bothersome now just remember you were once like them. They may seem too demanding, all they need is just attention .
I and your mum love you son, we may never say or show it enough but just remember that we are always here for you. We have tried to teach you values that will guide your life for a long time to come and we trust you to make your mistakes learn from them and go on to become the great person that you are meant to be.