To my children,
I don’t know what it’s like growing up in your generation. There are a lot of things about it that seem exciting. And a lot about it that seems hard. As your parent, I want to help you navigate through these waters.
As you sit and watch YouTube videos of children your age who have become famous making slime, opening toys, playing video games and doing food challenges – I wonder if you feel pressure to become famous yourself?
When I was a child, that pressure didn’t exist. To become famous typically meant moving to a big city with the hopes of being discovered as an actor, model or singer. You had to have a talent that would make you stand out from the others, and a willingness to relocate if need be. In other words, the possibility seemed slim at best.
But for you, it probably doesn’t feel that way.
I wonder what that’s like as a child? Do you feel that in order to be significant, you need to go viral? Do you feel like a person’s worth is directly related to the number of followers and likes they have on their social media accounts? Is this where your validation comes from? Do you feel like you need to have great wealth and fame to be special?
While those things may seem alluring – they will not satisfy your soul for long. They are like empty promises. You can have all of the wealth, fame, power, likes and followers and still not feel content. They may bring temporary satisfaction, but in the long run – will often leave you feeling dissatisfied and wanting more.
I want you to know you are special, and that’s not because of the number of people who follow you. It has nothing to do with how much money you make, or if people subscribe to your channel.
It is simply because you are – you. There is only one of you and there will never be another you.
I want you to grow up and pursue something you are passionate about because it feeds your soul, not because you feel like it will make you popular or rich.
I hope you are able to find joy in the simple pleasures of life – a good book, a warm fire, holding hands, saying “I love you”, drawing a picture, planting a garden, making a meal, watching the sun rise and set, taking a walk on a crisp autumn day, catching a fish and letting it go, playing a game, singing a song, listening to the sound of rain, dancing.
There are so many things to enjoy in this world. I hope you don’t always feel the burden or pressure to “share” these moments. I hope you are able to put your device down – and just be.
When I was a child, I would go on vacation with my family and have the ability to disconnect from everything – my friends, neighbors, school. The only way someone would be able to reach me, and I them, would be by making a long distance phone call. And that cost a lot of money. Money that my parents didn’t want to spend. There was no e-mail, texting or social media. If I really wanted to connect with someone, I would have to write them a letter and send it in the mail. That’s how ancient I am.
Now, you are constantly connected – even when on vacation. You don’t get breaks from social interaction, and I would imagine that has to be hard.
What kinds of pressure do you feel that didn’t exist for children years ago? How can I help you navigate through this world of technology? How do I teach you the value of disconnecting and being present with your surroundings and loved ones?
I don’t know what it’s like growing up in your generation, but I want to be here for you. I want to help you as best as I can. And one way is by modeling this myself. I can’t tell you these things aren’t important, and then become consumed with pursuing them myself. If I am not putting my phone down, what does that teach you? If I’m constantly checking my likes on Facebook and Instagram, what message does that send?
Believe it or not, it’s possible to have the most followers and likes – and still feel lonely. It’s possible to have more money than you could ever know what to do with – and still feel like it’s not enough.
These things will not bring you lasting contentment, but there are some things that I believe will.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and soul and pursue a relationship with Him above all else. Build deep, meaningful relationships with the people in your life. Serve others. Love deeply. Discover your passions – and pursue them. Don’t worry about the future. Live in the moment. Stand up for what is right. Be true to who you are, not who you think society says you should be. Be kind. Trust in the goodness of God.
I don’t know what it’s like growing up in your generation, but I have faith in you. You’ve got this.
Just be you and always know that is enough – regardless of what the internet may tell you.
And know I am here for you.