I’ve made plenty of relationship mistakes in my life that we both can learn from (trust me).
An open letter to my 8-year-old daughter,
Hey, kid. It’s your mother here. You know how great I think you are, and how much I love you. You know I admire what an incredible mind you have, and how funny you are, and that I think you’re beautiful. What I can’t believe is that you’re almost 9, and in Year 4. Woah. Before either one of us knows it, you’ll be starting high school, and hitting (gulp) puberty, and it will be time for you to start falling in (puppy) love.
Relationships are a tricky thing, and getting into them can be scary if you don’t have any guidance. Lucky for you, I’ve made plenty of relationship mistakes in my life that we both can learn from.
1. Don’t be embarrassed if you like someone and they don’t like you back.
When you hit high school, and you start to have crushes on people, don’t worry about trying to hide your feelings or wonder if you’re cool enough to like the person you like. If you like someone, it’s OK to show it. Having warm feelings for someone is a gift, one that is meant to be offered to the person you have the feelings for. If it turns out that they don’t feel the same way, that’s OK. Hopefully they’ll express that kindly, but even if they’re jerks about it, don’t take it personally. There’s nothing wrong with sharing a little bit of your heart’s love with somebody. If they don’t like you back, someone will. Don’t take that kind of rejection as a sign that there’s something wrong with you or that you’re not good enough. Just view it as a simple compatibility issue and move on with grace.
2. Don’t lose your virginity too soon (or for the wrong reasons).
Having sex with the right partner at the right time for the right reasons is a wonderfully positive, fun experience. However, there isn’t a human being alive who hasn’t had at least one negative sexual experience, and that’s because sex is a very intimate act people engage in while highly vulnerable. It’s a delicate thing. So before you decide you want to share that with someone, make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons, and that you feel truly ready. You might be ready to have sex if you feel safe, secure and loved in a relationship, if you’re physically and emotionally mature enough to understand how sex deepens the bonds between people and therefore changes the relationship, and if you know your partner feels the same way. Some of the wrong reasons to have sex include wanting to be cool, feeling lonely and needing affection, feeling a need to lash out or rebel, or just wanting to lose your virginity before “it’s too late.” It’s never too late! Watch “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” and you’ll see what I mean.
3. Don't make finding a romantic partner the primary focus of your young life.
Know this now: love will find you. Because it is already within you. So you don't have to worry about finding someone to spend the rest of your life with when you're just a teenager. There will always be love in and around and throughout your life, so allow it to buzz about you, and grab it when the time is right. Don't try to chase it or catch it. Focus on your gifts and how you want to share them with the world, and trust that all of your relationships will unfold as they should over time. You will meet all the people you need to meet out in the world by simply living your life. (But I mean try online dating if you feel like it. Just don't use Tinder to hookup. Or do. But then remember what my dad always used to say: "If you can't behave, be safe!")
4. Don't get married too young.
People live such long lives now. And since you plan on adopting instead of having children of your own (though that may change), there's no rush for you to get married and have babies. Even if you decide you do want to have a child of your own, you have well into your 30s to do so without worry, so you don't have to get married right out of university. (But you do have to go to university. How else are you going to become an engineer/fashion designer?!) Take your time and realise that if you get married, you're participating in a serious legal agreement ... that is very expensive and sometimes difficult to get out of, not to mention terribly painful to end. Try to be as sure as anyone can that you're entering a partnership that will last. That kind of assuredness comes from the ability to clearly examine things, which is developed with age and experience.