To My Daughter on Your 16th Birthday

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My daughter will be sixteen this month.  Sixteen!  She amazes me everyday with how independent, strong, and sensible she is.  Making responsible decisions, weighing the options, and considering the consequences.  She is the perfect mix of outgoing and introverted.  She doesn’t have an enemy and finds new friends wherever she goes.  The young woman she is becoming makes me so proud!

Yet, there are times when she’s laughing, dancing around the house singing her favorite songs, or playing a rousing game of Candyland with her brother, when she’s that little five-year-old girl all over again.  Bright eyes, pink cheeks, and bouncy curls.  Her infectious smile and laugh take me back.

I’ve been having more flashbacks of that little girl lately – as sixteen is right around the corner. I’m making it a point to connect with her more and savor every moment we have together before she is off making a life of her own.

This week I finally wrote down a few things I want her to keep in mind as she turns sixteen:

  1. Always ask yourself what your grandpa would say! With the onslaught of social media and the fact that the average teenager’s life is well documented in photos and snaps, I want her to always ask what her grandpa would say.  If the post, snap, or picture will pass with her grandpa’s approval – all is good!
  2. It’s probably not about you. When the people around us seem upset, hurt, or angry, don’t always assume it’s about you. By nature, people are pretty selfish.  There’s a good possibility that whatever is causing the person in your life trouble isn’t you.  Check in with them before you assume it’s all about you.
  3. Savor the little moments! Life is all about the journey.  Don’t be in such a hurry that you forget to enjoy the little things that make life special!
  4. Stop and breathe. When life gets tough – and it will – stop and breathe.  Don’t jump right into a response.  Take a moment to think (and calm down) before you act.
  5. Be kind. Be kind when you are angry.  Be kind when you are hurt.  Be kind when you feel wronged.  Be kind even when you don’t feel like the people around you deserve it.  When you have a choice – Be kind!
  6. You don’t always have to respond. Sometimes listening is more important than talking.  Listen to the people around you.  You don’t always have to respond in words or actions, but always listen.  Sometimes your best response is no response.
  7. Be brave! Life is about taking on challenges. You will win and you will lose, but don’t let fear keep you from trying.  Don’t settle for being comfortable.  The first step is always the hardest.  Be brave enough to take the first step!
  8. You are loved – but not everyone will love you. You never have to question my love!  No matter what you do – my love is unconditional.  But know that making everyone love you isn’t important.  There will always be people who don’t like you for one reason or another.  That’s okay!  I repeat…that’s okay!
  9. Be true to your heart. Let your heart lead you.  You know right from wrong.  You know good from bad.  Let your heart be your guide.  Your heart won’t lead you astray.
  10. I will always be proud of you! Win or lose, high or low, number 1 or last place – you make me proud every day!  Your attitude, your confidence, and your heart for others will never cease to amaze me! You make my world a better place!

Happy 16th! I cannot wait to see what you do with all your gifts and talents!

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