I have two daughters, and by external, American, first-world standards, they are both plenty successful. I always encouraged them to set high goals, to go for the gold, and to excel at a few select things. I also encouraged them to try lots of things, to collect experiences and skills.
Now, with one in college and one a year out of college, I look back at our parenting with some regret.
The pressure my daughters put on themselves was much more than I put on them. But by sending them to tough schools and cheering them on in sports and grades, their dad and I were, in many ways, saying “more, more, more!”
When my oldest daughter was a senior in high school, I filled a journal, which turned into a book full of advice and admonishments. Titled Do Your Laundry or You’ll Die Alone, it contained some sections that were silly, some that were downright snarky and a few that were sappy and serious. Even during the process, I was aware that listing advice had an ugly dark side. Telling people how to behave and how to view the world assumes they are not already dazzling right where they are.
So I ended the book with an important disclaimer.
#269. Enough already.
You are entering a stage of life that is all about adding things. You’ll be adding credentials to your resumé, skills to your repertoire, and friends to your contact list. You’ll be testing your capacity, finding just how much you can hold and control, how much you can do and know.
Know this first: you are enough.
Right here, right now, you know enough to make your way in the world. You have enough to succeed. You hold enough to find happiness. In the family, friends, and faith you possess right now, you can live a life that billions around the world would envy. Most important, you are all you need to be. To God, to those who love you, and to the truth within yourself, you are already enough.
When I finished the book and passed it on to editors for review and corrections, one of the editors responded with an emotional e-mail. About #269 above, she said “If my mom had ever said these words to me, I think my life would have been profoundly different. She never said it.” she wrote. “This was all I ever needed to believe, and I wanted to hear it most from my mom.”
Let’s not forget to tell our children they are enough already. Before they graduate, before they get a job, before they feel like they can take on the world, they need to believe they don’t really NEED any of it to earn our love and acceptance.
By Becky Blades