What really matters

The things I want to teach you would fill a book and take a lifetime of show and tell. You’re growing up so fast and sometimes I worry we’ll run out of time. I’m afraid that we’re bogged down with chores and paying the bills, and I’ll forget that I haven’t said enough out loud.

What do I want for you, most of all? It’s not the best report card or a fancy career. It’s not a perfect life without pain or disappointment – nobody has that. It’s really simple. Just be happy, be strong, be responsible and do more good than harm. It sounds easy, but then why do so many people get it wrong? 

I don’t have enough answers, but I’ve never stopped trying to get it right for you. So here’s what I do know…

  • Anger doesn’t make you stronger, although it might feel that way for a while. Be the one who takes the first step towards making it better, even if it doesn’t always work.
  • Be curious. Don’t stop learning and questioning. Chase those questions, topics and hobbies that keep your brain popping until 2am. 
  • Do the job right, whatever it is, even when it seems like nobody’s looking.
  • You’re stronger than you think. We are all capable of handling far more than we realize. Know that you can ask for help if you need it, but always stay in charge.
  • The world isn’t fair, that’s true. But it stays that way because not enough people try to make it better. I’d rather be the kind of person who tries, than the kind who doesn’t.
  • Listen more than you talk. You will hear, see and learn far more than those who are always flapping their jaws.
  • Having a strong opinion is great, but be careful of people who only see absolutes. There’s a world of grey in between and none of us has all the answers. Never discount the possibility that you might be 100% wrong.
  • When you screw up, fix it straight away. No matter how tough the consequences, dealing with your mistake out in the open is always a relief compared to waiting to be caught out.
  • Be gentle. There is enough cruelty in the world. You lose nothing by choosing kindness, even when it’s not always deserved. 
  • Don’t confuse age or position with wisdom. Many people who are supposed to know better, simply don’t. Avoid those who are bad for your head, your heart or your health, although it can be hard to recognize them.
  • Be generous. Share what you have, what you know, what you feel. It might not always be appreciated. But that’s not the point, is it? Don’t let it stop you next time.
  • Being a moral person is about one thing only – how you treat the other citizens of the world. Everything else is just for show.
There’s so much more to say and only a few years left where it’s my job to say it. Then it’s up to you to live it.  I know you’ll do okay.

What are the basic life rules you hope your kids are learning from you?

Read more by Tracy Engelbrecht

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