Somehow, my youngest child will reach the age of 17 next week. There have been many moments when I never thought we’d get here, for various reasons. He’s had some medical challenges, and I’ve had some patience challenges along the way. But as I write this, I feel like a walking (or sitting) cliché as I type the words, “I can’t believe how fast it’s gone by.” As I reflect over our time together in this life thus far, I realize he’s taught me a lot. So, this week, I bring you something a little different—17 lessons I’ve learned from my kid. Turns out the lessons apply to all kinds of human interactions.
- Pay attention to the quiet ones. Just because they aren’t the loudest voice in the room does not mean they don’t have something important to say.
- Traditional learning formats don’t work for everyone. Adjust your style of sharing knowledge accordingly.
- Look more closely at things that seem a little off or you might miss something that could kill you. Or someone else.
- Genetic anomalies and differences don’t mean someone is broken.
- Hitting developmental milestones is not a race nor a sign of intelligence levels. Everyone gets there in their own time.
- No two people are the same, even from the same home or community, background, race, or ethnic group. Meet each person where they are.
- Glassy-eyed stares during conversations don’t mean that person is bored. It means they are thinking. Give them a minute. Or twenty.
- Setting boundaries and expectations, even when unpopular, is an act of love. Clarity is a gift.
- Consistency is important, but not as important as remaining flexible and adjusting when circumstances change. Which they do. All. The. Time.
- Be willing to show your limitations, your anger, frustrations, fears, and heartbreaks. When we give each other permission to be fully human, strong bonds are formed.
- Listen to feedback and reflect on it. If someone was courageous enough to tell you something hard to hear, think about how hard it must have been for them to say.
- Have difficult conversations often. It shows that you’re invested in the other person.
- You don’t have to fix other people. Sometimes, just sitting quietly with them so they know they’re not alone is enough.
- Be open to accepting people as they change and grow. The human experience was never meant to be linear.
- Being able to laugh—together, at yourself, at each other—creates strong bonds.
- And when you want to talk, listen more. When you finally speak, seek to understand, not to judge or condemn.
- Worry does not solve anything. Face the problems when they actually show up.
He’s a wise one, my kid. I’m so glad I get to be his mom. I can’t wait to see how his life unfolds.
What has the younger generation taught you?