Are you a mom raising your children in a world of Facebook, Youtube and the World of Warcraft? Do your children have a phone growing out of their palm and a laptop attached to their legs? If so, or if you are a kid yourself, below I have made a list of the things young people (child to young adult) should do based on what I wish I had done more of (or less of) when I still had freedom in my schedule. Actually, this list can apply to anyone who has the time to do it, which tends to be young people. The list spans from early childhood to college years as these are the years I had the most free-time to do what I wanted. So parents, may this list justify going on a family outing, signing your kid up for an extra-curricular activity, or forcing a pale child off of a computer and outdoors.
As a child…
1. Watch less TV. Play more in the yard: Stop watching Saturday morning cartoons. The best moments are outside. I’m not saying parents should confiscate their children’s phones and lock them out of their house. Actually, yes, that is what I am suggesting.
Memories: Getting chased by dogs, jumping in ponds, and getting run over by my brother on his bike even though he could clearly see me walking from a mile away.
2. Get along with siblings: Most siblings annoy each other at some point. It’s not until I got older that I realized the importance of my brothers. They were the only ones around, and I might as well enjoy them without wanting to beat them up. Ways to inspire siblings that don’t get along: show them this picture of Luke and Leia from Star Wars . . .
3. Love Dad more: I’m sure everyone has a family member they wish they could be closer to. I am happy to say I love my dad very much, but I wish I had done more to love him as a little girl. So dads, do what John Mayer says, and “love your daughters.”
As a youth…
4. Take lessons: Interested in something? Turn that interest into a concrete goal. Start learning now before life becomes demanding. There are a couple things I regret not pursuing like piano lessons, guitar lessons, sword fighting lessons . . .
Note: My emphasis is on learning from a mentor. There is time in college during the first couple years before you get super busy with your major. If all else fails, there’s always instructional videos on Youtube.
5. Flirt with that cute boy/girl: When I was young, my ideal romance was to fall in love with my childhood friend and marry him. Despite this wish, I was afraid to show my feelings. Freedom to show your preference for someone takes away anxiety and makes things natural.
Note: Parents can encourage youth to show their feelings (at the right stage in life, of course). If they end up getting their heart broken, that’s part of life. With the right outlook, a broken heart can teach empathy.
6. Pay attention: I wish I had paid attention more in History and Geography class so I wouldn’t feel dumb or unpatriotic when I’m asked a question a fifth grader knows the answer to.
7. Try out for the . . . : When I was in high school I was afraid to try out for anything even if I wanted to. There are a few things I wish I had tried out for.
Examples: The school play, the jazz choir (internationally known), and talent shows.
Note: Parents should have their kids try out for something, especially if they seem interested. Sometimes it just takes a little encouragement and a lot of compliments. It’s a good experience, and there is nothing wrong with bending the truth to boost that ego.
As a young adult . . .
8. Study less. Friends more: College is for partying, unless you’re like me. I was good at using school as a reason not to spend time with friends. Luckily, this lasted only a short time before I realized the memories mattered more. I managed my schedule better. I did not need forty-eight hours to study for that test worth one percent of my grade.
Tip: Take away the guilt and organize your priorities.
9. Think about my future: In college, I enrolled in classes for a major I had been good at in high school. I wish I had explored the different kind of careers available in the world today. There are so many things we can do, and it would be a waste choosing something familiar just because we know we are good at it.
10. Forgive more: I went through a phase of criticizing everything around me, mainly my church and my church leaders. I realized at some point how this criticism kept me from appreciating the good things. Learning forgiveness is important at any phase of life, so I suggest learning how to do it as soon as possible.
These are just a few highlights. Overall, I am very happy with these phases of my life, and any regrets are small compared to the fact that I did do many life-changing experiences like going to another country, studying musical instruments and making lifelong friends. Also, it’s not like my life is over, just the first part. Time is short, and it gets shorter when you get older. I hope youth and parents of youth understand that and will dare to make a memory, forgive, and love without leaving room for regret.