A Letter to Parents (Part 2)

When we get into our early and mid-teens, some of us may try to shut you out. The social competition may become all too consuming. Please don’t, for even a split second, think that we do not need you because things are quite the contrary. All that buying into pop culture and material obsession is just to keep up with our friends so that we feel good about ourselves. These are just issues in self-esteem. In a way, they are reflections of how we feel growing up in constant competition and comparison with everyone else. When this happens, please be there to lead us inward. Help us find confidence in ourselves again. Help us learn to love ourselves. Be the role models that live the example.

While for some of us it might seem like we care more about what our friends think of us than do you, don’t give up in getting us to open up. Try talking to us about our latest K-Pop fad even if it embarrasses us, even if it embarrasses you. Try. It tells us you’re vulnerable in this relationship too. We need to learn that every relationship is a 2-way street. We need to learn that parents are not invincible and are not infallible. (Of course, that does presuppose you do not act like you are.) We need to learn that you are human too, that you are learning from us how to be a parent just as we are learning from you. We need to know that you are doing your best, and, on that same token, know that your best will always be enough. More than asking us about our lives, tell us of yours. Help us see you more clearly than just your role as our parents and providers. Once we understand we will be more ready to give. Trust is built on mutual disclosure. Just be sure not to misuse our trust and you will easily earn our respect.

While we are in, perhaps, the wildly incomprehensible phase of teenage-hood, remember that you went through this too. Remember that only in hindsight were you able to see clearly and know how silly you have been. Remember how real and right you felt when you were our age, and remember the good laugh and beautiful lessons you’ve learned from that hindsight. Give us the space and freedom to explore this for ourselves. Walk with us, for you know you cannot do it for us. For many of you this is a tough pill to swallow, so here’s a quote from the ever-wise Kahlil Gibran in The Prophet:

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,

For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.

About the author:
Shen Ow is a freelance writer. She graduated Magna Cum Laude in Communication Studies from the University of California – Los Angeles, where, during the course of her studies she developed a strong personal interest in Interpersonal Communication as well as in Positive Psychology. She currently lives in Singapore and enjoys yoga, horse riding, traveling and skydiving in her free time.

Return to Part 1 of "A Letter to Parents"