As a mother of nine… yes, nine (with one son in heaven), I feel as though I’m always passing along important life lessons to my children.
Lessons to inspire them.
Lessons to remind them of what’s really important.
Lessons to help them become who they’re meant to be.
Lessons to soften their hearts and strengthen their will.
Lessons to prepare them to take on this world without me.
Here are the lessons I try to instill in my teens’ hearts (and all the other kids and teens I’m so very grateful to have in my life). Because, to me, these are the lessons I have found to be the most important. The lessons that truly matter…
The Most Important Lessons I Try to Instill in My Teens’ Hearts
- You can’t control others. Stop trying. Take responsibility for your OWN actions and release the internal desire to control or mold others.
- Choosing to be a victor, not a victim, is always the better choice. Give up the “poor me” mentality and you will be happier and far more pleasant to be around.
- Life, in large part, is exactly what YOU make it. You could be a happy janitor with contagious joy or a miserable CEO. Success has nothing to do with the material things you acquire in life but, rather, what you acquire in your heart. To be at peace and filled with joy… that is true success.
- People will always remember how you made them feel. Always strive to leave others better than when you found them.
- Be gentle with your words. You can’t take them back. The spoken AND written word holds tremendous power to nourish or deplete.
- Be intentional about making memories. One day, you’ll realize just how short life really is and you’ll want to reflect back on the memories you cherish most.
- Rich man…poor man….they both get 24 hours a day. Time is your greatest asset. Use it well.
- Your income will be the result of your hard work, dedication and your ability to capitalize on the talents God has given you. Capitalize on what you’ve been blessed with.
- Enjoy your life! You only get a limited time on this earth and your days are counted. Go on the adventure, meet new people and focus on the beauty that surrounds you. Live well… live fully.
- It’s okay to feel lost sometimes. Everyone feels that way at times. Just know that if ever you do, look over your shoulder. I’ll always be right here, so you’ll never feel alone on your journey.
- Be humble and stay in your own lane. If it’s not your business, stay out of it.
- You do NOT need to have an opinion about everything. Resist the cultural pull to be an “expert” on every new topic that flows downstream. Choose to be a learner. Watch and observe more than you speak and share.
- Be an encouragement to those around you and in doing so you will find yourself encouraged. It all circles back.
- Sleep is a gift, and naps are a blessing.
- Walk – to see the world, to stay healthy, to stay strong. Never allow yourself to become lazy.
- “I can’t think of many things more attractive than a beautiful person whose beauty isn’t what actually attracts you.” (~Dau Viore) Read! Learn! Discover! Nourish your mind and soul.
- Maintain a neat space and you’ll feel so much better coming home to it.
- No one in this world is “self-made.” Always take note of those who have helped you along the way, recognize and thank them and give credit where credit is due.
- Let OTHER people compliment you….don’t praise yourself.
- The opinions, voices and forces of others may be LOUD, but guess what? At the end of the day, you know what’s right and what’s wrong. Don’t cave in. Don’t be swayed. Stay centered in your life.
- Crying is a gift! If you need to cry, cry. Give yourself the freedom to “feel.”
- Be real, my sweethearts. Always be your true, authentic self and you will attract true, authentic people into your lives.
- Take lots of photos, not just selfies. (No, I’m not anti-selfie!) Take photos of your life, your family, your favorite people, and experiences you want to treasure. This season of life will slip by quietly and you will never repeat it….and, somewhere down the road, your memory may not be as great as you think it will be.
- Not everyone in your circle is in your corner. Learn to recognize the difference.
- Always forgive. It sets your heart free. But in doing so, recognize that it doesn’t mean you should accept or tolerate toxic relationships. You have to love yourself, too, and that means setting boundaries to protect your heart.
- Don’t live in “I want to” or “I don’t want to” land. Be mature and realize that just because you want something doesn’t mean it’s important or necessary and just because you don’t want to do something doesn’t mean it’s not equally as important or necessary.
- Be a giver – a giver of love, good vibes, strength and kindness. Not for any gain or glory – because it’s truly the best way to feel rich.
- Have goals. Think ahead, but don’t live in tomorrow or dwell on yesterday. Today is a gift!
- Be the friend who comes through when others need you the most. That kind of love and loyalty will come back to you ten-fold.
- Look at people in the eye when you talk to them.
- Put effort into your appearance. Taking care of yourself and dressing well can put you in a better mood and improve your confidence.
- Birthdays matter. Make sure the people you care about feel loved, appreciated and celebrated on their day.
- Keep fruit and veggies on hand and think of your diet as a rainbow. Eat colors.
- Get to know your neighbors. Know their names and their stories. Be there when they need you.
- Keep the thought “How can I make a positive difference” at the forefront of your life.
- Clean your bedroom, your car, and your backpack once a week. Be a good steward of your things.
- It doesn’t matter if no one “showed you,” or “taught you” how to do XYZ, don’t make excuses.
- Be a self-learner. YouTube it.
- Don’t sleep with your phone in your bedroom. Have self-control. Your mind deserves a break from the constant pounding of information, images and messages.
- Pay attention to the “love languages” of those you care about. It matters.
- Making your bed is the first good choice of the day.
- Practice taking big deep breaths. It will help with anxiety and allow you to consider your words before they spill out of your mouth. Practice pausing.
- Take the trash out before someone asks you. Empty the dishwasher because they’re clean. If you see a need, fill it.
- Just do YOUR best – in school, in relationships, in life. No one can ever ask for anything more.
- Don’t demand respect, earn it. Live in such a way that people respect you because of who you are and the way you live your life.
- Your reputation is valuable. Guard it.
- Be a good sibling. No one will ever know you better, know what’s in your heart or share all your family memories, jokes and secrets. Be good to each other.
- Before you judge or find fault in others, remember you’re not perfect either. Give grace!
- When you have a loving family, you have it all. Never let anything or anyone come between you and your family.
- Your friends will come and go, trust me. But if you’ve been blessed with loving parents….nobody will ever have your back like your mom and dad. Don’t take them for granted. They aren’t going to be around forever.
Love, Mom xo
About Mindy Wise:
Mindy is a mom of nine children (with one son who is in heaven) ~ five birth children and five adopted children. After living in Asia for seven years, (including India, China and Thailand) where she gave “birth” to her many adopted children, she and her husband felt drawn to the multicultural population in Florida. Since moving there, they added four more children to their loving family which now includes children from Ethiopia, China, Columbia, and Florida.
She currently lives in Jacksonville, Fl with her children and husband, whom she’s been married to for 21 years (and considers him to be her best friend). Her husband has taught at Southside Middle School in Jacksonville FL, and beyond being a former teacher of the year. He also coaches volleyball, soccer and swimming. When Mindy isn’t driving a house full of teens to and from their jobs, she loves to walk. She posts daily – about her life, adoption, her family, and her many passions. As a busy mother, she feels incredibly blessed to be living the beautiful (and chaotic) life that God has given her.