Being The Best You Can Be
Just moments ago I received the following letter from my father to give to my son in honor of his 13th birthday. It is timeless advice and no matter your age, it is worth a read.
Dear Ford, Happy Birthday!
You’re a teenager now. Wahoo!
Life is just getting started. Now is the time to make a commitment to being the best you can be! That means being the best son, grandson, brother, nephew, cousin, student, athlete, teammate, worker, friend, husband and father you can possibly be. I won’t be around forever to monitor your progress but I will try to do as well as I can in mentoring you towards becoming a significant, useful contributor to society.
You are entering into a time in your life (young teens) when it becomes difficult to make the right choices. You’ll stumble, and you’ll fall, but your character is what will determine the outcome.
You will be building character. How a person reacts under pressure, addresses issues that require resolution, and stands up for what is correct defines character. An individual who accepts responsibility for his actions without excuses and regardless of the consequences exhibits strong character.
“A man’s word is his bond”. If you lie, deceive, or misrepresent the truth, you will soon be branded as worthless by those who honorably fulfill their obligations. You owe a debt to society for the freedom that is yours. Far better to support the system through the fruits of your efforts than to be a leech sucking and draining the strength of others productivity.
Be a leader. If not, be an excellent, contributing follower. Don’t be influenced too greatly by those who would lead you astray. It’s all about choices son. Often there isn’t any recognition for doing the right thing because it’s expected. Do the right thing. If you cross the line you may very well be branded for life. Far too many people have to live under the shadows of suspicion due to poor choices and decisions they made in their early years.
Temptation and excitement await you. Tread lightly son. You will make poor choices at times but not consistently because you will be building character and trust in those who genuinely care about you. If it’s too good to be true, then it is. The wrong thing can be very exciting, but most often it is short lived. Then you’re stuck with the consequences for the long haul.
Do not allow yourself to be bullied or abused. Show no tolerance for those who choose to perpetuate such behavior. Avoid confrontation if possible, but protect yourself and support those who are unable to protect themselves. Continually ask yourself “How would I feel if this were to happen to me”. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes, see how it feels.
Honor your mother, father, and sister. Do not bring disgrace upon them or yourself. You have been afforded a good life, excellent parenting and nurturing. To defile this faith and trust your family has placed in you is unacceptable.
Talk openly and freely with your parents, but with the respect they are due. You are to honor and respect all adults and treat them and all
people as you would like to be treated. This is a must!
Sure there are some that don’t deserve your respect, neither do they deserve your disrespect or ridicule. Tolerance is another sign of character.
Talk with your parents and agree upon a trusted individual you can go to and confide in should an issue become too untenable to comfortably bring to your parents. Everyone needs a safety valve or confidant, choose wisely.
The declaration “I’m sorry”, “Please forgive me” doesn’t cut it. It’s good to seek forgiveness, but that does not absolve one of the consequences of their actions. Most bad choices are exactly that; Choices. Usually, these choices are made because people refuse to accept what common sense or basic morality dictates they do. There is no excuse for ignorance of the law. If there is any doubt, it’s not right.
That, my second teenage grandson, sums up what I have to say on your 13th birthday. Keep this letter and re-read it every birthday. When you are grown and I’m gone please add to this list anything you feel worthy and guide your loved ones by the same principals. I know you will succeed.
I Love you Ford, Happy Birthday, Grandpa Craig