Sunday 7 March 2021

9 Life Lessons for my Children to Live By #ChooseToChallenge #IWD2021

For International Women's Day 2021 I share 9 life lessons to live by for my teenage children

It's International Women's Day tomorrow (8th March) and I try to mark this special day each year, either in real life or on my blog. It's a day when we recognise that although there have been great steps forward in terms of gender equality, we acknowledge that there is still a long way to go for there to be equal representation of women in all forums - business, the media, politics, religion and academia.

This year the theme of IWD 2021 is #ChooseToChallenge, where we are all encouraged to challenge gender bias and inequality. I think you can also take the meaning of that hashtag wider too and choose to challenge any kind of discrimination that you witness or become aware of.  Also, it's important to choose to challenge behaviour and attitudes that you don't agree with. As an outspoken and ballsy woman, it has been a journey for me to be able to challenge things in a non-threatening way. Many people find me too much, a bit forceful and for a while that shut me up, but starting to work with charities and NGOs like Save the Children and ONE Campaign changed all that and I had to start shouting about the things that upset me and I was happy to challenge once again.

As I reflected on that today I was keen for my children to know that it is OK to challenge the things that do not sit right with them. This is something I have been teaching each of them since an early age, especially Miss E as she is less forthright than the other two. Of course, with the noisy ones that are naturally more like me, I've been trying to help them soften a little and be able to put their point across in a kind way, allowing others to feel differently too. 

This reflecting led on to more thinking, as it often does with me and I ended up making up a list of the life lessons I want my children to know and understand. Things I think it is important to live by. They are, of course, very different people to me so they have to make up their own mind whether they want to live by these nuggets of wisdom or not, but I'll just do my part and pass them on.

1.  Fight for Change, It's Worth It

As I mentioned above, I think it is important that we challenge thinking, perspectives and actions that do not sit right with us. Intelligent dialogue and debate are really important, especially when done with like-minded people, after all the Bible says iron sharpens iron. Change won't always come easily and sometimes the issue seems far too big, but every ripple in the ocean we make has an impact. Mother Teresa said “Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time and always start with the person nearest you.” 

2.  You Can't Change Anyone Else

You might think you can, but it is a falsehood. If we don't like the behaviours and attitudes of another, all we can do is change our reaction to that person. Nothing we can do will force change upon them, but maybe loving (or supporting, educating etc) them despite a bad attitude may help them to change as they feel the love. Or sometimes walking away is the healthiest thing for you, depending what it is they are doing that you wish to change. By changing yourself and your response you shake up the whole situation and it can be so much better. There is an interesting article on Psychology Today over here on this very topic. 

3.  Get Outside, Every Day

No matter where you live, it is so important to have fresh air. Try to immerse yourself in nature if you can. There is something so special and calming about walking through a woods or the forest, the Japanese call it forest bathing and the sights, smells and sounds all come together to ground you and restore your soul. Cry out to God as the great Creator and enjoy what He has provided for you.

Even if you live in a city and there is no forest in sight, get outside and enjoy what you can. Walk by a canal, sit in a public garden or seek out a roof terrace. They all work, just be grateful for whatever you can access.

For International Women's Day 2021 I share 9 life lessons to live by for my teenage children

4.  Want What You Already Have

You really can't underestimate contentment. If you go through life always desiring the things you don't have, life will always feel lacking. However, if you go through life immensely grateful for everything you have and knowing that what you have is good, your attitude will be totally different. You can still have ambition and desire more, but know the more would just be a bonus, it won't be what determines your happiness. 

I've always thought of this in relation to money and what we have, but actually, it applies in all sorts of situations and the one that just struck me, is that I need to be more grateful for the body I have and all the things it CAN do. You're never too old for a new revelation. For someone who advocates the importance of positivity, I haven't been positive on this front.... watch this space.

5.  Eyes Off Self

For me as a Christian, I'm always aiming to have my eyes heavenward, to be looking to Jesus as my example and showing His love. However, you don't have to be a Christian or follow any faith to practise this one. You just have to know that putting your focus on others will always give you more joy than getting completely wrapped up in yourself. When you feel a bit low, you could wallow in it and think about all the horrid things in your life, or you could help/ think of someone else - volunteer at a charity, bake a cake for a neighbour, make love to your husband or call your Gran.

6.  We all Live in Separate Realities 

Don’t make assumptions (or judgements) about other people. Each one of us experiences life very differently and what I see as important someone else does not. This is especially important to understand this with those you are closest too and especially your spouse. Communication is a wonderful tool and it will feel tricky at times but it is worth taking the time to spell out what you mean and to gain an understanding of what others hold dear. Never diminish what is important to someone else.

7. It's Always Better to be Kind than Right 

It is so tempting to go through life proving to everyone that you know best and whilst it might make you feel good for a few seconds, is that really how you want to gain your happiness? I can promise you that when you choose to be kind and gracious you will be happier and more fulfilled in life. You don’t have to point out every little error that someone makes, they will appreciate your kind and loving response so much more. Take the first step after an argument, be the one to apologise and remain humble.

For International Women's Day 2021 I share 9 life lessons to live by for my teenage children

8.  Stay True to Yourself

You were created as a unique and (Im)perfect being. There is no-one else like you and it is so important to stay true to yourself. Don't let anyone else dim your light and steal your joy. Of course, you can learn and change as you go about the journey of your life, but never be a poor imitation of anyone else. You are enough.  Always be you and use your voice and the skills you have in the way you believe is best. 

9.  Adopt a Win or Learn Attitude

It's OK to make mistakes and it is great to develop and learn new things. We should all be on a journey or learning every day of our lives. It doesn't always have to be tiring and stretching but even in the quiet and reflective times, we can be learning about ourselves and others. We need to ensure that we are bold and try new things, even if we aren't very good at them. When it goes wrong we need to look at what we can learn from the situation, rather than classing it as a failure. 

Every situation in life can be a good one, when we adopt the right attitude, as we will always either win and do well, or learn from what went wrong. It is how we approach the situation and then deal with whatever it brings up that makes the difference. Resilience, perseverence and a great big dollop of positivity are the winning combination. 

I hope you've enjoyed this post and maybe I have inspired you to think about the life lessons you'd like your own children to take with them into adulthood. Do feel free to share in the comments if you have some different ones.

Why not pin this post for later?

For International Women's Day 2021 I share 9 life lessons to live by for my teenage children

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