Teenagers have to contend with a lot in their young lives: college acceptances, friendships, first-time relationships, and peer pressure.
I am close to one amazing teenager, and while she may not be mine biologically, she is mine in the sense that I wanted to give her advice as she tackles the various roads of her life. Her parents already discussed with her the topics of sex/drugs/alcohol, but I was surprised when they did not cover any talk about long-term relationships. Sure, they covered the right to say “no” if something was pushed on her. But, they did not cover her role in a long-term relationship.
I wondered, where was she supposed to get that information from? The CW? Magazines? Her friends? Or was she expected to learn on her own, even though half of marriages end in divorce?
Here’s three lessons I talked about.
Her wedding is just another day, but her marriage is about a committed partnership.
We as a culture are swamped with the idea of having the prefect wedding, as seen by Kim Kardashian and Brad and Jennifer, but marriage is more than just a picturesque wedding. It is a commitment, a contract between two people, who are stating before whoever that they will support each other and provide for the needs of the other, even before their own needs.
Learn about conflict resolution and saying sorry.
Marriage or any long-term relationship is not going to be priceless Kodak moments. She and her boyfriend or partners are still individuals, with their own ways of working through problems. How could she effectively communicate her needs, and learn how to compromise. Or better yet, learning how to sincerely apologize when she’s in the wrong with someone who loves her, and expect it in return.
Love yourself first.
The end of our conversation was about her loving herself first, understanding what her own needs were and how she was able to fulfill them. Because it is no one else’s job to always make her happy and she could not expect her happiness to come from other people. It had to come from her. In a clichéd John Hughes moment, I told her “find yourself, before really finding someone to settle down with”.
Tips for Others
The best advice for this conversation is to start it and role model the skills you feel your teenager should know.