Christmas Letter to Teenage Son

Dear Brooke,

I have three amazing teenage sons. My middle on struggles more than the others. He’s also flat out INCREDIBLE in so many ways. I wanted to share this letter I wrote to him this morning with you and all the other scholars. Any ideas look familiar? Merry Christmas, my friend, thanks for putting your work out into the world!

December 25, 2017

Dear Son,

Merry Christmas! I thought I would pause for a moment and try to put into words a few things I have learned over the years that might be helpful to you.

IDEA #1: As humans, we’re not meant to be happy all the time and I don’t believe that should ever be our goal. It’s misguided and doomed for failure. The full range of emotions is part of the human experience that includes sadness, boredom, anger, frustration and envy.

I believe we should fully allow yourself to feel all those emotions and know that it’s okay. It’s all part of being human. When people don’t want to feel sad or angry they often “buffer” through overeating, overdrinking, over consuming YouTube even porn and drugs. And, I obviously don’t mean just teens, a huge amount of the adult population does this as well! The problem with buffering is that you may feel less “negative” emotions but one also loses the ability to feel joy and connection.

IDEA #2: There are no “wrong” decisions. Any decision that is made can be turned into the best thing that ever happened. For example, as you know, I only was accepted at 1 of the 10 colleges I applied to and I was not excited to go at all. In fact, I was a little ashamed that I didn’t have “better” options. But a few important – even life changing – things happened as a result of that circumstance. First, I discovered I was far smarter than I thought I was. I had been in uber-competitive schools for so long that I lost sight of how I fit into the general population. Second, I made friends who have enriched my life immeasurable over the last thirty years. Third, I met your father through a Boulder friend. Being married to your Dad and having you boys is the greatest joy of my life and only happened as a result of me doing so poorly in college admissions.

Obviously, it’s hard for me to watch you hate being at MA with your older brother when you could have gone to a different school and avoided the whole dynamic but I believe in the choice you made and I think the goal should be to make the absolute most of the opportunity of MA and being at home. I think you already are doing this through applying to study abroad. I also want to let you know that it’s okay for you to hate your brother right now, I truly don’t believe it’s forever. Starting in about five months, you two will never live under the same roof again and you will never be in the same school again and much of what’s bothering you will simply disappear – I believe and hope. You have mentioned a couple times to me that at MA you feel like a “lesser” version of your brother. In my heart of hearts, I truly don’t believe anyone thinks that. You two are both amazing in completely different ways. I would never want you to be just like your brother, I want you to be the best version of YOU. Your journey on earth is different than his, not better or worse, simply completely different.

I want you to know that I love you, I KNOW you, I believe in you, I am proud of you and you are always worthy of love unconditionally, no matter what. I feel so blessed that you are my son.

I’m not proud that I yelled at you (and threw toilet paper at you! YIKES! not my finest parenting moment) so let me first say, I am sorry. Truly, I could have handled myself better but I also want you to remember that I am human and fallible and will try hard and yet still fall short. I am compassionate with myself and want you to be compassionate with yourself. None of us are perfect and step one of loving someone else is loving ourselves even when we screw up.

I love you! Let’s make 2018 an incredible year filled with growth, challenge, joy, connection and adventure knowing that along the way we will feel sadness, anger, loneliness and boredom and that it’s all OKAY!