My daughter turned 16 a few weeks ago and I’m still in a bit of shock. While it clearly wasn’t a surprise, I couldn’t believe that the years had gone by so quickly. I remember when she first started walking - and now she’s zipping around town in her car. I recall when she used to only want to spend time with me because I was the center of her world - now she is the center of her universe with a gaggle of friends surrounding her. While these thoughts make me shudder with complete disbelief, they also make me smile.
My daughter is growing into a beautiful, confident, dynamic young woman. She has the strength and confidence of a mature young adult and I’m so grateful that I’ve been able to give her that gift. At 16, I was young and naive - clueless about the boys and the world. She knows how to handle herself and how to navigate through her world with ease. Not an easy feat in this day and age.
She has a great head on her shoulders and she makes great choices. More importantly, she thinks through problems rather than making hasty decisions. She knows what she wants to do when she grows up and she is in the right path to success. While many of her friends were running around town this summer, she was looking up the acceptance requirements for colleges she is considering. She set her goals and she’s working towards them. She started working at the local Chic-fil-a this summer and started realizing the value of the dollar and how important it is to balance wants and needs. She has her head on straight - and in truth, I sometimes wish I was as smart as she is when I was a sweet 16!
I’ve written a few blogs about her, and she’s actually written a few of her own, so anyone who has been following me for awhile knows that she’s a pretty remarkable young woman. While there is a part of me that would like to say that it’s all genetic - I know that it isn’t. Who she is is a direct reflection of how she was raised. I have done a remarkable job with her and for that, I’ve got a bright and beautiful feather in my cap right next to the one for my son.
Raising kids in today’s world is challenging - there are so many distractions and influences in their lives. However, there were a few constants I was adamant about:
No TV’s in their rooms. Neither of my children had a TV in their room growing up. I never wanted them to isolate themselves away from the family. My philosophy was that I wanted to spend as much time with them as possible. If they wanted to watch something, we’d watch it together. That way, I could monitor what they were watching, spend time together and then talk about it.
Family dinners. No matter what our schedule was, we always sat down to dinner every night and talked about day. It gave each of us to share our experiences, support each other and stay connected.
Family night. One night every weekend, we spent time together as a family. The three of us would go to dinner, watch movies, head out on an adventure or just play games. Even though many nights resulted in arguing between the kids and sometimes even a bit of a blow up - the time we spent together as a family was invaluable. Plus, the kids learned a lot about conflict resolution. :)
Talking. I’m all about communication. I would always spent time with them individually so we could connect and talk about things that were going on in their lives. While spending time as a family is critical, spending time 1:1 is just as important. It gives you the opportunity to really get inside their world. So, whenever we were driving, shopping, running errands or just out and about in life - I took the opportunity to know them.
Sports. I didn’t lead a very healthy lifestyle when I was a kid, so I knew that when I became a mom, I wanted my kids to be active and eat healthy. When they were each 3 years old, I signed them up for soccer. My son played until he graduated from high school and my daughter played until high school and then transferred over to field hockey. I didn’t want them to struggle with their weight like I did when I was a kid and I am I’m grateful that they are both athletic and know how to balance healthy with ‘fun’ foods. Neither like fast food (with the exception of Chic-fil-a), and I love that about both of them.
I don’t know about you, but there have been many times where I've wished that I could stall time and keep my kids small and within my bubble of motherly control forever. However, as they both grow and develop, I'm grateful that the bubble has popped because it allows me to clearly see the exceptional souls that they have grown to be - and that feeling makes me prouder than I have ever been.
Happy Sweet 16 Junie - I love you.
Bee Healthy. Bee Happy.