His name is Jacob, and he is my youngest grandchild. This month he will turn 13 years old — a teenager.
I have never been responsible for him. I’ve simply had the pleasure of watching him grow and develop his own distinct personality.
I want him to be happy. Common sense tells me he will have some problems and rough spots along the way — and some have already happened.
I have watched in amazement his resilience, his ability to call it like it is, his willingness to face challenges — all of which speak of a loving heart, a good brain and good parenting.
I worry at times about the chaotic world he is inheriting. It seems more out of balance than at any time I can remember.
Balance is important. I want Jacob to experience it. And so for his 13th birthday, I wish him a balanced life.
To work and to rest. To study and to play. To disagree and reconcile. To feel afraid. To feel safe.
To achieve for himself and to support another’s dreams. To be strong and to be tender. To be bold and to live life to the fullest. To be cautious and to temper the adventures with good judgment and consideration.
To be thoughtful but not a doormat. To maintain a sense of the past and honor it but to speak out when there is need for improvement and change.
To spend time alone exploring what is within himself — and to spend time with others, for there is great satisfaction in being part of something larger than oneself.
To listen to one’s elders with respect. If it has meaning for him, he can accept it. And when it does not, he may discard it. His life is his to build as he chooses.
I will share with him what Gene Barth taught her sons: Life doesn’t always turn out the way you want. Still, give it your best. Remember, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Keep going. Keep going.
Happy 13th, Jacob.
Charlotte Lankard is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.