Reading, writing, and arithmetic are important, no doubt. But there are a lot of other things I want my kids to know that will help them function in the real world—and they’re not the things we are going to find taught in any curriculum. So, here goes.
1. Adults are just people.
Adults are just kids who got older. And you wanna know the truth? Not all of them matured.
As a little girl, I remember thinking that adults were these rock solid forms who knew everything and did everything right. They had all the answers. Now that I am an adult, I know this isn’t true. Many of us are punting. Some of us are looking for an adultier adult to take care of something we’re dealing with. Yes, be respectful of adults—because they are other human beings—but remember, they’re just human beings.
2. A lot of “shoulds” are unnecessary
You’re gonna hear a lot of you should do this and you should really do that. Listen. You’re a good person. The only things you should do are the things that you know will build a ball of yuck in your gut if you don’t do them. Most “shoulds” that are handed down by experts or Those Who Know or relatives or friends are a waste of time and brain space and anxiety. Simmer down and let go and breathe. Take some time to figure out what really matters to you—deep down in your gut—and build your shoulds from that.
3. Not everyone will like you or what you do.
Our world today is a lil’ bit cushioned with bubble wrap. It’s ribbons for all because everyone wins! And we’re all friends! Now, we can argue all day long about why the world is like this, but that’s another blog post for another time. Regardless, what I want my kids to know is this: you can make the awesomest choices and do your best work ever and someone still isn’t going to like you or what you do. And you know what? Haters gonna hate. That’s fine. It’s not their job to like you. Know what else? It’s not your job to care. Smile, put on your sunglasses, wave, and move on.
4. People judge other people.
The phrase that annoys me most is I’m not judging, but… Stop. Just stop. If you weren’t making a judgement, you wouldn’t be commenting. People judge each other all the time. It’s what they do. In fact, I’m completely okay with admitting I judge all the time. It’s how I figure out what organization is a good one to give money to. It’s how I decide whether or not to trust the story I’m being told by a relative. It’s how I figure out what carload of people I’m going to let you ride with. It’s how I decide who I want to associate with on social media and who creates more of a headache than I have time to deal with. I’m certainly not saying that you should run around classifying people as worthy or unworthy. I am saying don’t let the belief that we shouldn’t judge people mean that you lose your ability to use judgement.
5. Truth matters.
Always, as far as you possibly can, fact check something before you share it with someone. It doesn’t matter if it’s online or in person. Fact-checking is probably something found in a curriculum somewhere, but frankly it’s something a lot of adults haven’t figured out how to do. Your generation could change that. It’s worth a try.
6. It’s not all bad. It’s really, really not.
Humans seem to have a magnetic pull towards dramatically negative things. Notice what gets reported on the nightly news. Look at what gets posted on social media. There are so many people who fill their days with complaining and drama and oh-my-word-everything-is-horrible! Don’t buy into it. Be positive. Be a light to someone else. Be the reason someone smiles. Look for the good that is happening in the world. If you can’t find it a) you’re probably not looking hard enough or, b) maybe consider that you’re supposed to be the good.
7. Sometimes silence is better.
Social media gives everyone a platform, and I’ll bet you and I both know a few too many keyboard warriors. Normal in this day and age has become everyone commenting on everything that happens—like it’s some sort of contest to see who can give their opinion first. Consider for a moment that you don’t always have to comment. Your opinion isn’t always necessary. Sometimes the best thing that we can say to someone is absolutely nothing.
8. You really can call me. Anytime. Yes, even then.
Believe it or not, I was young once, too. Every adult in your life was young once. That’s why you need to know this: in the near or far future, should you ever find yourself in a questionable situation, you can call me. Even those situations that you know in your gut you shouldn’t have gotten into to begin with, but ended up in anyway? Call me. Not in the sense that you need to be rescued by your mommy, but more in the sense that I get it, I really do, and it’d be nice to see you alive.
9. Your work ethic really matters. Honestly.
Know the difference between being busy and being productive. Don’t be afraid to jump in and help where it’s needed. Do more than is asked and go the extra mile, but know when you’re being taken advantage of. At the end of the day, you should be a little sweaty—either physically or mentally. Or both.
10. Be real. Be yourself.
The world doesn’t need another person that looks and talks and acts the same as everyone else. What the world needs is you. The truth is that a good chunk of society is made up of crowd followers. We do it in business. We do it in church. We do it in mom groups. We do it in baseball teams and dance classes. Want to know what one of the saddest things is? It’s that we are all born originals but spend so much effort mashing and molding ourselves into what works best/looks best/is best for everyone else. You are an amazing individual who can bring things to the world that only you can bring if you’ll just resist the urge to be a cheap copy of someone else.
Tired of the sugarcoated version of homeschooling? Read my book The Homeschool Highway: How to Navigate Your Way Without Getting Carsick.
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