A Letter to My Teen: The Truth About Love

Dear Teen,

I think you’re amazing, though you have this prickly, thorn-in-my-flesh way about you. You demand attention, like a barking dog that’s spotted the mailman. And because you annoy me so well, you usually get it. You have a radiant smile that evokes a rather ridiculous response in me: proud tears any time, anywhere. Basically, I have become a sentimental fool for you, and I rather resent you for that. But here’s the deal: I don’t have to love you. Love is a choice. I love you for a million reasons, and the list grows daily — like the fungus in your bedroom.

And that’s the point of this letter. At  any time, we can choose love — love for others and for ourselves. Most people have the first part down, but they don’t fully understand what it means to nurture their own souls. Self-love is crucial to living well. It influences who you choose for a mate, the career you pursue, and how you cope with the chaos in your life.

I have loved and been loved by many people: siblings, teachers, and eventually– the male population. Well not the entire population, though I probably thought so at one time. In my teen years, being loved by family didn’t feel so special. Those people are supposed to love you, to tell you how cute your curls are and how well you write a letter. But your friends and those of the opposite sex, well their job is to disclose reality. Their duty is to give you the direct link to the truth, the mud-crusted candor that only adolescents can administer. I know you believe this because you’ve told me as much on many occasions.

Generally, whenever I tell you anything, you run it through the filter of popular teens’ opinions (a fact-checking method for advice from moms). I had a similar system I used in my teen years, though I had to solicit  my feedback in person or by telephone (the kind with a twisted cord and fat buttons) because I’m older than rocks, remember?

Honestly, I still struggle to form my own views. I don’t consult teens as I once did, but I do look for approval from my own peers. That’s what we humans do, though it’s not always a healthy approach. On the topic of approaches to life and love, here is a list of sarcastic rules I’ve compiled for you. Follow them if you want to feel like shit.

3 Rules on Life & Love

  1. Don’t listen to your mom. Sure, she carried you inside her body for 9 months, swaddled you in the cold world, and held your hand until you decided to let go, but that lady is oblivious. She doesn’t know you at all. When she tells you you’re awesome, intelligent, and oozing with potential, don’t buy it. That deceptive bitch is reading from a script.
  2. Trust the Teen Demographic. As you traverse through life, it’s imperative you seek advice and support from a reliable source. Trust the teens among you, and know that when their opinions deviate from your mother’s, she will most certainly refer to them as “incompetent noobs.” She however, cannot be relied upon to provide sound advice about life. Her experience has no relevance to your individual situation. After all, she doesn’t even have a Snap Chat account. Duh.
  3. Judge Others and Accept Their Judgement, Too. Your mom said much of your suffering would come from judgement. She said that when you judge yourself and others, you enter a room without windows or doors. It’s a stifling place, a prison without bars. Your mom told you to “Set yourself free, and set others free too.” She said people would surprise you (for better or worse), and that you would never grow in that small room where self-discriminating thoughts suffocate ideas and imagination. Again, don’t listen to your mom. If the kids say you’re ugly, you are. If they tell you that fat kid on the bus is a loser, he is. Don’t be the ass who asks questions.

If by some miracle you have read this letter and have not been lured away by some text or invitation to play Call of Duty,  you’re probably peeved right now. You’ve wasted your time reading my obnoxious rules. You’re an independent thinker and do not need to be reminded to follow your own path. You know that your peers are pretty stupid sometimes, crack is whack, and reading is fundamental. You’ve heard it, and yes, you believe it. This letter is just another long-winded, inane parental rant. You believe you are loved and not just because your mama said so. Regardless, it’s my job to read the script, so I’ve only said what was required of me by the GPAOA (Great Parents Association of America). And now I’ve earned my badge. But there’s a point I want to make, a question I need to ask…

Do you know why you are worthy of love? If you’re like so many people, you will spend the rest of your life trying to answer that question. Don’t get distracted by the Valentine’s Day cards, chocolate truffles and Hallmark greetings. Those things mean nothing. Real love means everything. So take those trinkets when they are given, but know that love does not reside in gifts, or words, or gestures–  and most definitely not in nude pics sent from a smartphone. Love is not a prize you earn for good behavior. And though you hear talk of it everywhere, it goes beyond mere conversations.

So if and when the world doesn’t offer you love, find it within yourself…and give it away, too. You will ALWAYS deserve love. We all do… and not just from our mothers.

Mantra: We do not fall in love. We cultivate it in our own hearts. “You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” ~ Buddha

 

 

 

33 Comments
  • Ashley
    February 8, 2016

    I don’t necessarily agree with the judge others and accept judgment statement you made. I think for the most part, yeah sure, accept the constructive criticism and judgment… but sometimes people can be just plain mean and hateful for no good reason and their words should be taken worth a grain of salt.

    • Rica Lewis
      February 8, 2016

      Ashley, I think you misunderstood. I was not suggesting anyone judge. I was making the opposite statement. It was sarcasm. It’s how I talk to my teen! Thanks for reading. Hope that clears things up 😀

  • Carmen Gomez (Lilly)
    February 8, 2016

    Love your sarcastic rules, trust the teen demographic, ha! You’d be surprised at how much these rules really make sense to a teenager and not in a sarcastic way. All my nieces and nephews are teenagers and by the conversations that they have and the things the post on social media I am in constant fear of my two little girls becoming teenagers in the years to come!

    • Rica Lewis
      February 8, 2016

      Yes, Carmen! I have to be sarcastic with my kid because he just doesn’t get it any other way. But like most teens, he speaks “sarcasm” quite fluently! All the best to you and your girls. Fasten your seatbelt! 😀

  • Crystal // Dreams, etc.
    February 8, 2016

    I love this! I think everyone needs to be reminded of this: “So if and when the world doesn’t offer you love, find it within yourself…and give it away, too. You will ALWAYS deserve love.”

    • Rica Lewis
      February 8, 2016

      Glad you liked it, Crystal! Thanks for reading and commenting.

  • Mike Lair
    February 8, 2016

    Thanks for this piece, Rica. As an adult who has recently found love, my teenaged kids were in a position to offer me some advice as I searched for a partner.

    In much the same why I regarded their fashion advice (and lord knows I needed it), I listened to what they had to say and compared it against what people my own age were telling me. I found the best advice to fall somewhere in between these camps.

    At the end of the day, love is such a tricky thing. And the best advice is likely something we don’t really want to hear.

    • Rica Lewis
      February 8, 2016

      Very true, Mike. So glad you found love. Or should I say “love found you?” Sometimes it happens that way! All the best 🙂

  • Shann Eva
    February 8, 2016

    Oh boy. I can’t wait for the teen years 😉 I do love all your words about love. So important to remember.

    • Rica Lewis
      February 8, 2016

      Thanks, Shann Eva. Glad you stopped in to read. 🙂

  • Sarah Black
    February 8, 2016

    My daughters are yet to be teens, but when they all four reach this age, I’m going to quote this post! I’m mostly frightened by the thought of them being teens…but I’m positive sarcasm will see me through! 😂 great post!

    • Rica Lewis
      February 8, 2016

      Awesome, Sarah! Sarcasm and a hefty sense of humor will always see you through!

  • Tamuria
    February 8, 2016

    This was great. Your list was so funny and if your teen is anything like mine were and do the opposite of everything you say – it could have the desired effect. I love the list that grows like the fungus in your room. Exactly how I thought about my teens. I still use the line; “OK, don’t listen to me, I only carried you in my belly for nine-long-months” – lots of eye rolling. Lol.

    • Rica Lewis
      February 8, 2016

      That’s the wonderful mom card we get to pull. The “I carried you for nine months” trumps everything! Thanks for reading and commenting, Tamuria! Glad to see you here again!

  • Keelie Reason
    February 9, 2016

    Great post. Love it.

  • Amanda
    February 9, 2016

    What a great lesson to teach your daughter. My daughter is only a year old, but I’m sure I’ll be saying these things when she’s older.

    • Rica Lewis
      February 9, 2016

      Yes, Amanda, sons or daughters. They all need to know they deserve love for the right reasons! Thanks for reading.

  • April z Couch
    February 9, 2016

    I loved this post so much bleeding with sarcasm and as a mom I can relate my kids are far from being teens, but I know when they are that age that I will be feeling the same as you!

  • Sara
    February 10, 2016

    Having teens is so difficult! It is one day at a time, always being supportive.

  • Penny Struebig
    February 11, 2016

    How fun! Teenagers are so unique, aren’t they! After living through my son’s teenage years, I often reflect and wonder how my parents make it through my teenage years.

  • Inez
    February 14, 2016

    This is SO great!! I love how you transitioned from sarcasm to serious. A true art. You make such great point!!

  • Liv
    April 16, 2016

    Love yourself. The most important rule. And yetmthenone most difficult to follow as a teen.

    • Rica Lewis
      April 16, 2016

      That’s true, Liv. I always say, I’m glad those years are over! Life is so much better without those pressures!

  • Faye
    April 21, 2016

    Beautifully written… I wish I had heard (and listened!) to these words as a teen. Teaching self-love is truly one of the biggest gifts you can give your son. We are so conditioned to think we somehow have to earn love, that we are not enough just the way we are.

    • Rica Lewis
      April 21, 2016

      Thank you, Faye. It took me a long time to undo the effects of my own teen years! Thanks for your lovely comment.

  • Stacey W
    April 21, 2016

    So creative! I like the idea of cultivating. 🙂

  • Sara
    May 19, 2016

    As a mom of three teens this letter felt very familiar. I think that parenting my teens has been incredibly challenging and rarely easy. Thanks for sharing!

    • Rica Lewis
      May 20, 2016

      I agree Sara, very challenging! I’m glad you enjoyed the article. Thanks for reading!

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