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Open Letter to My Teenage Daughter: Advice for a Bright Future

Published: at 05:12 PM

My Dearest Argi Denise,

As I watch you grow into a compassionate, thoughtful, and wise young woman, my heart swells with love and pride. Being your Papa has been one of the greatest honors of my life. Seeing you blossom over the years has brought me immeasurable joy.

I know that growing up can feel confusing and overwhelming at times. You’re navigating big questions about identity, faith, relationships and your place in the world. It’s a lot to process! But I want you to know a few important things that I’ve learned through my own journey into adulthood.

First, growing up is a process. It doesn’t happen all at once. Give yourself permission to not have all the answers right now. Some questions take years or even a lifetime to figure out. That’s perfectly normal and okay. Know that you don’t have to conform to anyone else’s timeline or expectations. Embrace the mystery and enjoy the journey of self-discovery.

Second, be true to yourself. As you get older, it can be tempting to change who you are to fit in with your friends or certain social groups. But real friendship should make you feel accepted, not pressured to be someone you’re not. Stay grounded in your core values and passions. The most interesting people are those who dare to be different. Don’t compromise who you are for the sake of gaining conditional approval from others. It’s also crucial to set healthy boundaries and know when to say no if peers pressure you in ways that don’t align with your values.

Third, appreciate your body’s health, abilities and uniqueness. Puberty can stir up self-consciousness about changing appearance, but your worth isn’t defined by looks alone. Care for your whole self - body, mind and spirit. Respect your body’s needs through healthy habits. Honor its power by moving in ways that bring you joy. You deserve to feel at home in your skin at every age.

Fourth, nurture self-awareness and expression. Examine your inner world through journaling, art, physical activity or talking with someone you trust. Give language to unspoken feelings and needs. This builds emotional intelligence and confidence. Expressing your authentic self creatively is so important.

Fifth, be kind to yourself when you make mistakes. Self-compassion is vital for building resilience and emotional strength. Criticizing yourself harshly when you stumble just harms your self-worth. It’s better to acknowledge errors, learn from the experience, then keep moving forward with wisdom. Reflect on how you can grow rather than berating yourself. We all mess up sometimes. What matters most is how you recover and let it shape you for the better.

Sixth, though speaking up for your values takes courage, your voice can make a positive difference. Lead with integrity and stand firm in your convictions. Yet also stay open to others’ views and keep seeking common ground. While anchoring yourself in what you believe is right, be willing to listen, evolve and find room for diversity. There is power in bridging divides through open dialogue, even when disagreements stay. Keep advocating what matters to you.

Seventh, surround yourself with friends who empower you to make wise choices that align with your values. You don’t need a big social circle, just a few kindred spirits who appreciate the real you. Quality relationships that make you feel secure in being yourself are so valuable. True friends bring out your best, not your worst behaviors. Surround yourself with peers who cherish your well-being.

Eighth, don’t be afraid to ask questions - even big spiritual ones about religion, identity and sexuality. Wrestling with life’s complex issues is how we grow in wisdom and compassion. If something doesn’t make sense to you, dig deeper. Think critically. But also keep an open mind and heart. Your questioning shows your intelligence and maturity. While you sort through these big issues, remember to appreciate that we all have diverse beliefs. The world would be boring if we all thought and practiced faith the same way. Respectfully engaging with different viewpoints expands our understanding and compassion. Focus on kindness and our shared humanity.

Ninth, it’s okay if you’re unsure about religion or don’t feel connected to it right now. Spirituality is deeply personal and evolves throughout our lives. Be honest with yourself about what resonates with your heart and values in this moment. Don’t just conform to fit a mold. Keep searching for spiritual fulfillment in your own way. You have all the time in the world to develop your relationship with faith on your own terms. While you find your spiritual path, make sure to respect others’ beliefs even if you disagree. We all relate to these big questions differently.

Tenth, have empathy when family members frustrate you. Try to understand their perspective rather than judge or assign blame. We all have our challenges and struggles that shape our actions. With openness, patience and forgiveness, we can overcome misunderstandings. Challenges faced together make relationships stronger.

Eleventh, communication is key for resolving conflicts and strengthening bonds within families. When tensions arise, speak your truth with care and tact. Really listen to understand where others are coming from rather than just focusing on your own perspective. Trying to see issues from your family’s point of view, even if you disagree, can help you find common ground. Open and respectful communication fosters trust, empathy and deeper relating within families. It brings you closer together.

Twelfth, be quick to forgive family when we fall short or frustrate you. We’re all learning and making mistakes as we go through life. Focus on repairing rifts, not casting blame. With honesty and forgiveness, family bonds grow even stronger.

Thirteenth, nurture and protect the beautiful bond you share with your little brother Desmond. At his young age of five, he looks up to you and is learning so much about the world from his big sister. Set a positive example for him by being caring, responsible and following your conscience. Listen patiently when he comes to you bursting with stories from school. Include him in activities that spark his imagination. Share your wisdom while allowing him to find his own path. When tensions arise, as all siblings experience, resolve conflicts through open communication. Forgive quickly and reconnect through laughter. Your brotherly bond is so precious - protect it, for one day he’ll be the shoulder you lean on. Help shape him into a man of character who brings goodness to the world. The unwavering love between siblings is a priceless gift.

You hold multidimensions within you - light and shadow, strength and vulnerability, curiosity and conviction. You are becoming a remarkable young woman, inside and out. This transition will have ups and downs, but you have all the wisdom and courage within to navigate it. Always remember how deeply you are loved and cherished. Your Mama and I believe in you, today and always. My door is always open if you need guidance or just want to talk.

With All My Love,