Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Santa's List Day

Wish List: Love, Respect and Honesty….and maybe a new Kate Spade tote
It’s that time of year again…the time of year when teens start writing their Christmas wish list. Most of which will include a new iPad or the latest digital camera.  However these lists will fail to include some basic needs of young people. These needs often go unspoken but if left neglected, will ultimately impact the future of our youth. So here is my wish list for young people:

1) LOVE: I am not talking about the kind of love that you feel when you open up a new iPad, I am talking about real unconditional nonjudgmental love.  This kind of love is self-less and desires your best interest. In an effort to keep a young person’s best interest in mind, sometimes real love has to say no. I will never forget the time that I wanted to go to an un-chaperoned party in high school, my mother refused to let me go because she knew that it was not in my best interest. Even though I was completely angry and upset, looking back my mother exemplified the meaning of real love. Too often young people don’t see real love in their lives and therefore don’t know how to identify it in their own relationships. 

2) RESPECT: Respect must be earned through behavior and actions. Young people must understand how their behaviors impact others and must understand how to carry themselves with dignity and respect. Young people need to feel respected by adults and feel that they are valued. Even though opinions of young people greatly vary from opinions of adults, it is still important for young people to feel like their opinion is valued and respected. Growing up, my mother thought I was crazy to want a leather bomber jacket for Christmas one year; the coldest it gets in SC is about 50 degrees and I had no need for a leather bomber jacket. However because she respected my individuality and wanted me to feel heard, she took me to get a leather bomber jacket so that I could be just like my all-time favorite movie star, Tom Cruise in Top Gun (don’t judge me). This sounds ridiculous and I seriously looked ridiculous wearing a leather bomber in 70 degree weather but my mother showed me respect by valuing my opinion.

3) HONESTY:  Young people want to have open and honest conversations with their parents and trusted adults about love, sex and relationships. Young people have the right to access medically accurate, age appropriate and developmentally appropriate information about their bodies. It is important to establish these open and honest conversations early so that “the talk” is not a one-time occurrence but rather an ongoing discussion about feelings, relationships and body changes.

So that’s it...that is my wish list this year, easy right?! I ask you this holiday season to think about what you are really giving to the young people in your life. Believe me, I love a new Kate Spade tote just as much as a young person loves the new iPhone but don’t let these gifts replace love, respect and honesty.  I know how to love because my mom showed me, I know how to have open and honest conversations with young people because my mom fostered these conversations growing up, and I know what respect feels like because she respected me enough to prepare me to make good decisions. The best thing is I don’t have to wait until Christmas every year to receive this gifts, my mom has been giving them to me for 28 years.

So, what are you giving to the young people in your life?
Happy Holidays!

by Sarah Kershner, Project Coordinator, SC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy

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