I just have a lot to say.
July 5th, 2016 by

Words of Advice to My Grown Children: From Observances and Lessons Learned the Hard Way

Always tell the truth. A lie, once uncovered, produces more pain than the truth, told upfront, ever could. You don’t have to tell the whole truth to every single person every single time, but don’t lie. You have the right to say, “I don’t want to talk about this right now” or even “You know what? I love you, but that’s none of your business.” Don’t ever lie.

You will have your feelings hurt, and you will be angry. Vent to one person, the same trustworthy person. Say: “I am telling you this, and I’m laying it down.” And then, do your best to lay it down. Don’t tell things over and over. That only resurfaces the negative feelings and gives the incident control over you.

Little girls and little boys are different. When you tell your daughter to go put on her shoes, she might discuss which is the perfect pair or argue that she doesn’t need to go at this second or just roll her eyes. When you tell your son to go put on his shoes, he will usually obey the first time, but he will climb on every piece of furniture in the house on his way.

To my daughters: Women have more words than men. Don’t be mad at him for not listening to all of yours. Tell your girlfriends the long story, and tell him the “man version” (as your daddy so often reminds me). That is a way you can show him that you love him.

To my son: Women have more words than men. She needs you put down the clicker and give her a few minutes of your undivided attention daily. That is a way you can show her that you love her.

Love is not always sparkles and sunshine. Love is frequently vomit and volcanoes. Say “I love you” every day.


Stand up straight.

An apple a day keeps the doctor away.

Always choose kindness. You will never regret walking away and not saying what’s on the tip of your tongue or your fingers. HOWEVER, choosing kindness does not mean being a doormat. Think about how you would want to be treated; then act like that.

Don’t make promises you can’t keep. Say: “I can’t promise that right now, but I’ll try” or even “I can’t.” If you can’t do it, say “no.” It is okay to say “no” and it is okay to accept “no” as the answer and have neither situation be hurtful. Don’t say you will and later say you’re overwhelmed. Fulfill your commitments.

Beforehand, know what lines you won’t cross; then, by all means, avoid those lines.

Don’t blame “God’s will” or “God’s timing.” Pray about your decision before you make it. Then own it. Don’t throw God under the bus.

Do for family. Do for friends. And sometimes, do for strangers.

To my daughters: Don’t badger him about it. He will get around to it.

To my son: If you go ahead and do it, she won’t badger you about it.

Try to reign in the ridiculous for your first half century, but after you blow out the flames on your 50th birthday cake, embrace the ridiculous with exclamation points.

When traveling from small-town America to small-town America, chances are you will have to turn at the Dollar General.

Rewind movies before returning them to the rental store, or there will be a dollar fine. (Just seeing if you were still paying attention.)

When you goof, say “I’m sorry.” Don’t justify. Don’t blame the other party. Don’t say: “The reason I yelled was because you made me angry!” Say: “I overreacted and lost my temper and am embarrassed by my behavior. Please forgive me. May I tell you what I was upset about?”

When there is nothing to say to make someone feel better, don’t say: “I don’t know what to say to make you feel better.” Say: “I’m sorry for your hurt” or “I love you.” Better yet, since there’s nothing to say, sit beside your loved one and say nothing.

The words that follow, “I really shouldn’t say this, but . . .” really shouldn’t be said.

Being brave does not mean you are not scared. Be scared, but don’t be a coward. Do the right thing. Cry about it. Try to get some sleep. Take two Excedrin after you’ve had a bowl of cereal and a glass of juice. Then, suck it up and do it.

Don’t chatter. Don’t trust the chatterers. If they chatter TO you, they will chatter ABOUT you. And when you goof and chatter, remember how awful it feels to be chattered about, take a deep breath, and count to 10 before you chatter the next time.

Go on vacation. Don’t nickel and dime yourself while you’re gone. Don’t gripe about the cost. Have a good time. Relive the funny stuff at the dinner table, over and over and over.

Go to funerals. Celebrate life.

Return phone calls. RSVP.

“It just ain’t a party without pickles.” (Gloria Dump in Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo)

When all you can see is wrong in someone, make a list of everything she does right. Probably, she gets more right than wrong.

Usually, a person who seems egotistical is shy or afraid.

Most folks are good people. Most folks are not petty nor angry nor manipulative. Most folks are doing the best they can.

Marry for funny. Beauty fades, and waistlines swell. Funny is forever. (Tweet that.)

Balance every forgettable fiction with classic literature. Read the Book of the Month, but don’t leave The Count of Monte Cristo and Great Expectations unfinished.

Try to stay away from soda, but eat something chocolate every afternoon at 4:00.

Buy Steve Green’s Hide ‘Em in Your Heart for your children. When they whine, sing:

Do everything without complaining.

Do everything without ar-gu-ing,

So that you may be-come

Blameless and pure

Chi-il-dren of God.

Listen to what you are singing to them, and think about the people you know who never have anything nice to say, and think about how unattractive that is and how you don’t want to be like that person, and then sing to yourself:

Do everything without complaining.

Do everything without ar-gu-ing,

So that you may be-come

Blameless and pure

Chi-il-dren of God.

And sing this: Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other’s gold.

Sing this, too: Oh, be careful little feet where you go . . . .

Date your mate. Go to concerts. Drive to the beach, just for lunch. Hold hands. Cling tightly and protectively when the earth quakes and the water rises. Pick each other up when life sucker punches.

Don’t get into the bragging competition. Let the other person win. You know how awesome your kids are. You don’t have to prove it. (But you can tell me all about them, so remember to Call Your Mother.)

Leave the children at home with your spouse and meet your friend at the grocery store after bedtime. You can fellowship and fill your buggies while the store is quiet and the parking lot is empty.

After Daddy and I die, don’t forget to nurture your relationships with your siblings.

Always be a good friend. Good friends don’t avoid the ugly. Good friends don’t offer gossip as prayer requests. Good friends go to lunch and ask: “May I help you bear your burden?” Then, they go to lunch the next week. And the next. And the week after that. For as long as the burden exists. Even if it is forever.

When you are weary of hoping and don’t believe in [insert whatever] anymore, let somebody else believe for you, until you right yourself. The inverse is also true. Believe for your Beloveds, when they are exhausted.

In the South, casserole is a love language. If you are cherished enough to score a mess of peas and some cornbread, too, count your blessings as you sop the pot likker.

Pack sunscreen AND an umbrella, ‘cause you never know.

We say, “You’re welcome.” We do not say, “No problem.” We are not Jamaican, mon.

You have no right to be disappointed in a gift, whether it’s a tangible one from a Beloved or an intangible one from Above.

A tidal wave washes away everything in its path. A river winds and gurgles and flows. Both bring about change. Don’t be destructive. Be refreshing.

Say your prayers when times are good. (You have so much to be thankful for.) Say your prayers when times are so heavy you can physically feel the anguish. (You have so much to be thankful for.) When you don’t know what to pray, pray anyway, because that is a kind of prayer in itself.

You don’t have to rock the world. Actually, I doubt you will. Most people don’t. I would rather you bloom where you are planted.

Take the pictures. Write the stories. Tell the tales. Moms book

“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8


One Response to “Words of Advice to My Grown Children: From Observances and Lessons Learned the Hard Way”
  1. Kay Keel says

    This is beautifully written! Since the button to share is there, I will use it. You will be credited.

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