As parents, there are so many things we want to impart on our kids as they grow, learn, and develop into adults. Sage advice beyond, “Don’t pick your nose in public,” and “There are plenty of fish in the sea.” A lifetime of embarrassing mistakes, exciting successes, failed relationships, unexpected career changes… it’s all helped us stockpile a never ending supply of wisdom. Here are the top 5 things I want my kids to know.

1. Life’s not a competition.

Kids today have insanely full schedules, a lot of which pits them against their peers. Organized sports, standardized testing, college applications… it probably feels like their worth hinges upon how they compare and compete with others. But I want them to know that they don’t have to buy into it. Winning and feeling superior to others will never bring them genuine, soul-fulfilling happiness. But building people up and rooting for their success and happiness – that’s the good stuff! We’re all on the same team! Unless they’re competing in the Olympics; in that case, Go Team USA!

2. Their bodies are theirs.

I know, I know – this one negates “Don’t pick your nose in public.” Let me try again – “Your bodies are yours, but please leave your boogers alone, kids.” Funny, buuuut this is a really serious topic that is crucial from a very young age. Knowing they’re in control of their bodies sets them up for a lifetime of body positivity and fewer regrets. What they put into it, how they view it, what they allow others to do to it… these are all affected by knowing, respecting, and having agency over their bodies.

3. Reading is important.

This one is subjective, I understand. But I’ve always been an avid reader, and I know the profound impact it’s had on me. I have a lifetime of learning to look forward to because of my love for reading. I know I am more worldly, cultured, and empathetic because of reading. It’s THE great boredom dispeller. Reading can be an escape, or it can help you understand yourself and others more deeply.

Reading can be an escape, or it can help you understand 

yourself and others more deeply.

4. Kindness is the most important.

I don’t have a laundry list of regrets, but the ones that stand out are when I should have been kind (or kinder) and I wasn’t. This is not to say they should cease to stand up for themselves or let themselves be taken advantage of. But when they have a choice between being kind, and being something else, I hope they are secure enough in themselves to choose the former. There’s not enough kindness going around, and I think sadly that insecurities are the biggest culprit. And how do we combat insecurities? Kindness!

5. They are loved unconditionally.

No matter what they do, it’s my job (and honor) to love them. When they’re toddlers and they spill an entire jug of orange juice on the floor, I love them. When they’re hormonal teenagers locked in their room listening to angst-y music, I love them. When they’re grown and find their partner in life and no longer think they need me, I love them. There is nothing great or small that could change it; they’re stuck with my ooey, gooey, sappy love. There will be times when my love feels like an inconvenience, and other times when they are grateful to have it, and I’m okay with that.

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