Monday, May 4, 2015

To My Teen, As You Come Of Age

In the Unitarian Universalist tradition, as with some of the major religions, there is a point in a child's life when their status changes within the organization.  Years of study, plus required Congregational and Community service, have been completed.  They are ready to be welcomed into the fold as adults.

In Unitarian Universalism, however, there is no dogma to be perpetuated.  Instead, the youth have been exposed, directly, to other religious traditions.  In 6th grade, they travel to Catholic churches, Buddhist temples, the Church Of The Latter Day Saints, and various Jewish temples; there, they hear, directly from participants, what those traditions believe.  UU kids are taught to decide FOR THEMSELVES, what truths to embrace.  And when they make their Coming Of Age, they stand before the Congregation and declare their Credo, or what they believe.  It's understood that they may have come to the conclusion that their is no Supreme Being or that the form they feel is right is different from what others believe.  It doesn't matter:  UU embraces believers and none believers alike.

Parents of new Coming Of Agers are encouraged to write a letter to their children explaining what they're proud of or disseminating "wisdom" we've accumulated.  Here is mine, written to my 14th year old when he made his Coming Of Age yesterday:

My Son,  

I knew you before anyone else. I felt your first kick, hiccup, and actually SAW your foot extend from my stomach. My voice was the first you heard as I sang to you in utero. Meeting you was the most extraordinary moment of my life. Finally – I was face-to-face with the being who had been in my tummy for 9 months!

Truth be told, Coming Of Age is no bit deal. You've been aging your whole life with each year bringing new surprises, challenges, and joys. It's been an honor being with you.

I want you to know that it's the JOURNEY through life that's important, not the destination, not even the milestones. Do your best, as I know you do. Value yourself and don't accept it when others try to invalidate the miracle that you are. Understand that you will make mistakes, have regrets, and learn from them. They're supposed to happen.

Don't be so hard on yourself. My love for you is ABSOLUTE, it is infinite.

You are THE MOST AMAZING PERSON I HAVE EVER MET. You are sweet, funny, creative, thoughtful, and so wise!

Life me, you have trouble enjoying life. We're always afraid of what's coming around the corner. What if, What if?, is always in the back of our heads. The only antidote to this that I've found is:

Be grateful. Every night, count your blessings, no matter how small and stupid. This process will help you see how lucky you are, even when life sucks.

I love you more than anyone else and I'm proud to be your mom.





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