“You have a child and you have written one piece of advice that will be carried in his/her pocket for life. What is that advice?”
Trust your instincts.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve made serious mistakes when I haven’t trusted my own instincts, or when I’ve allowed other people to make decisions for me because I haven’t believed in my intuition. There’s something to be said for going with your “gut,” but I’ve spent the vast majority of my life second-guessing myself, or looking at things from every angle until I’ve exhausted possibilities, then going through it all over again just for good measure. And all I’ve succeeded in doing is driving myself insane and still not making the right decision.
My children are completely different from each other when it comes to trusting their instincts. Madeline just goes with the flow. If she feels it she does it, and she doesn’t take any real amount of time thinking about it ahead of time. Sometimes that works out well, when the objective is simple, but when it is more complex it becomes an issue that she doesn’t take the time to think about things. In those moments it’s good to have someone nearby so she can ask questions and figure out the best way to go.
On the other hand, Alexa will sit there and mull over every single possibility, walking through possible outcomes depending on the decision she makes. Then she’ll ask me or her mother what we think, taking all of that into account before mulling over the decision yet another time. Eventually she will come to a conclusion, but often that conclusion comes long after whatever time limit was set up, or the decision is made for her due to the amount of time she has taken. It works both ways, at those extremes.
So I would give them both a slip of paper to keep in their pockets to take out throughout the day, whenever there is a decision that needs to be made. “Trust your instincts.” Go with your gut, because more often than not your mind already knows what you should do. Don’t take so long trying to dig down deep because it’s already there on the surface, and it’s usually right. Doubting my instincts has given me problems in the past, and I want to save my children from all the hassle it takes, and from the consternation it causes to go around and around before settling at a still-unsettled decision.