Ten Things to Tell Your Child (and Yourself)

It started as a quick text to my son on a bad day: Ten Things I wanted him to know amidst his struggle, about himself and about life. Because life is hard, and life is good. And on the roadway of life, guideposts of truth along the way never hurt.

I think it took me less than 60 seconds to create. Ten Things that just poured out of my heart when I considered what was on his. It’s that mom thing, that parent thing… in-the-moment wisdom that presents itself when watching a child wrestle with something Difficult.

I hit send and prayed it would speak to his soul.

Later that day I called up that text I sent, and as I read it over, this is what I thought: It might not be perfect or complete, but that list is good for me. I might know those Ten Things to be true, but sometimes I forget amidst the Difficult. Truth is, we never outgrow the need for guideposts.

So for you, for the children (and adults) you love, for me, for what it’s worth, I have expounded on and share these Ten Things here. I’ll hit send once more, and pray these speak to your soul.

1. You are Extraordinary. In all of time, there never has been another person just like you, and there never will be again. Let that sink in. Let it be fire to light your own unique purpose. Be YOU. Because if your goal is to be like everyone else, you will never know true fulfillment. 

2. Life is Hard. It is. Really hard. For everyone, in different ways. But if it was easy, there would be nothing to conquer, to master, to champion. We don’t like conflict, but consider: Not one good story in all of time ever has existed without it. 

3. You are Tougher than You Think.  Just because you don’t like conflict doesn’t mean you’re not suited for it. True purpose and fulfillment – the kind that people crave in their deepest being – often come only as a result of believing you have what it takes to overcome the odds in front of you. You do.

4. I Believe in You.  I believe in you, and for good reason (see #1, and #5). You don’t have to go through Difficult, alone. You have me. And if you want to be a part of a community of people who love and support you, make sure you devote time and effort to believing in others. 

5. There’s Something Only You Can Do.  You are uniquely wired with a combination of things you’re good at, things you care about, and personal experiences… this combination equips you to see things and do things in a way no one else can. You are wired to make a unique difference in this world.

6. It Isn’t a Competition.  No one can do in this world what you can do. Therefore you aren’t in competition with anyone. But there IS a trophy out there with your name on it. Figure out what it is, where it is, and win it. One precious day at a time. 

7. Every Day is a New Chance to Start Again.  One of the greatest graces of life is the abundance of second (third, fourth) chances. With the sunrise comes the opportunity to embark on a new course, or pick up on one from which you’d wandered. Your road is calling. Get up and get moving. 

8. You Will Find Your Way.  Your story knows its way. Sometimes it’s less about knowing what you want to be or do, and more about following the breadcrumbs in front of you today. Pay attention to what you love and care about today. Act on these things, with purpose. Your story will find you.

9. Failure is the Foundation of Success.  Don’t associate the word failure with losing. Couldn’t be further from the truth. Think of it more accurately as attempting. How many times are you willing to attempt something of meaning to you, in order to champion it? That’s the only way it’s ever done. Fail away.

10. Have Grace with Yourself and Others.  Remember… it’s not just for you that life is hard. It’s hard for everyone. And one of the great secrets to a life of fulfillment is pouring love and grace and joy into whoever is right in front of you at any given moment. Because chances are, they’ll pour right back into you. And that, at the end of the day, is truly what makes life worth living. 


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