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I read somewhere recently that children are not an extension of you but are their own individual self. This struck me as so true. I respect my teen with as much respect, if not more, than the respect I have for others.

Being 16 year old, my son has come into his own as any 16-year old would. Overall he’s been a terrific kid – no awkward teen angst, no serious issues whatsoever. He has been a true blessing to me.

He can be highly opinionated on the issues that he believes in, and I don't restrict this or his need to prove me wrong or push the boundaries just to prove a point. Sometimes, he can give me heart palpitations, but overall I wouldn't wish for anything less from him.

On more occasions than I can remember, I have caught myself admiring him silently. I often compare myself to him, look at the same traits and those that are different. Unless someone points it out, I honestly think we’re two different people with different personalities and traits. Even the things we like to eat are different.

I watch him closely and catch certain things that I wish I had in myself. But above all, when I see the values and traits that he has that I don’t, I feel really proud because I know for a fact that this is ALL him!

I don’t think he’ll fully understand how he has touched my life and how I watch him and sometimes secretly want to be like him. It's a cliche, but he does make me want to be a better person.

The more I learn about this boy, the more he surprises me. I always thought children would somehow follow their parents' footsteps, whether in their traits and/or personality. I sometimes see a little bit of me in him, but most often than not I can't help but wonder where he gets certain characteristics from, especially when I can't find them in myself nor his father.

1. Honesty.

I admire the fact that he’s out-right honest. For him, there is no reason to lie or hid behind the truth of the matter, whatever the outcome is. Finding the right words and especially the courage to say what's on your mind is a scary thing. Especially if it means it could be hurtful to the other party. The truth is some things should be said, and it should be heard. The need to please is innate in us as human beings that we often bite our tongue rather than taking that risk of saying what is.

With my son, he's willing to say it out-rightly, whether to me, to his friends, his teachers or other family members regardless of the outcome. This is refreshing, even if it can be hard on the ears. It makes me step back, take a minute and think about what has been said, and most often than not, I find that what he has said is true, and though it is hard, I accept it. His honesty might rub people the wrong way and might stun them for a bit, but I find that he hardly gets into trouble for it and why should he when he's only saying out loud what other people are thinking.

2. Level-headedness.

He is mature beyond his years, and he always has been.

When my dad was diagnosed with cancer a few months ago, it was difficult for the whole family. The diagnosis brought us closer together as a family, and we leaned on each other for support. One night, I was in my son's room, and we started talking about my dad's situation and how it possibly came about and what to expect. That night we talked for a long time, and it made me realise that of all the conversations I've had with other people and family members, this conversation with my son and his thoughts on the whole situation made the most sense!

How was this possible when he's only 16? I don't know quite frankly, but it was unbelievable how this 16 year managed to give me perspective when no one else could.

3. Calm.

He's laid back and calm almost all of the time. Whether he's in a difficult situation, rushing for a deadline, major lack of sleep, he appears calm and collected. This is one trait that I definitely don't possess - I'm the opposite of calm, and I truly admire that in him.

Some of his teachers have voiced out concern about his laid back attitude, but it's a trait, in my opinion, a lot more people should possess. Being calm doesn't mean he doesn't care, which I think is a general assumption. Calm is a superpower that you can use to control your emotions and your life in general. Being calm allows you to see things clearly and helps you put things in perspective. He might not realise this now, but this calmness will certainly benefit him in his adult life.

4. Street-smart.

As a parent, your instinct is to be able to protect your children always and as a parent, you also know that there will come a time that you'd just have to trust your children to go out there and be able to make the right decisions when needed.

I admire the fact that my son has the street smarts and so much common sense we need these days to manoeuvre through life. At his age, I didn't have the opportunity to have the experiences and freedom that he has today. When I became a parent, I knew I wanted him not to have a sheltered life. I wanted him to experience life and inculcate a sense of having situational awareness at all times. I'm unsure if he has the street smarts he does, but the important thing is he does.

Making important and sometimes hasty decisions are quite difficult, but some of them have an everlasting effect, so it’s important to utilize street smarts to your benefit.

5. Friendship.

I'm amazed at this bond that he has developed with his group of friends for the past few years. It's really pretty amazing to watch. They laugh, play football, constantly playing online games together, help each other out with homework - I know for certain this bond goes beyond what I see and I'm proud to know that they basically have each other's back for better or for worse.

These friends that he has developed this strong friendship with - I never had when I was in school and looking at him and his band of friends, I wish I had. I strongly believe that close friendships are important, and they make life a little easier. Fortunately, my son has this bond, and I truly believe that this is his lifelong ride-or-die friendships.

6. Ability to hold a conversation with anyone.

He's an extrovert whilst I'm an introvert - need I say more? He has the ability to sit at a table full of adults and confidently have conversations with them, and I respect that. Throw him in a crowd, give him some time to warm-up and then he thrives. In the same situation, I'd cower in a corner and pray hard for the earth to open up and swallow me whole!

7. Courage to question the norm.

As a kid in the 70's/80's and in Malaysia, what your parents said was the holy truth, and you wouldn't dare question for fear of getting a slap in the face for being disrespectful. Nowadays, I think children, in general, are encouraged to voice out their opinions. At least mine does, even if it's something as sensitive as religion. He's always giving me reasons as to why God doesn't exist and how we're all in a simulation - thanks to the internet! I allow this - yes because in this day and age, can you honestly say what's wrong or right? Everything is up for interpretation, so why can't he interpret what he sees and hears according to how he perceives it.

Conformity might be admired in school and society in general but to be honest, I wish I had the balls that he does to question what is the 'norm' and try and break from the norm if it just doesn't make a lot of sense. Gone are the 'because I said so' days.

I admire the fact that he can think for himself and justify why he thinks the way he does. To be able to justify your points takes a lot of research and belief. Better than some that just say things but can't justify it to save their lives!


I have never stopped being fascinated by him. I have never found his recollection of how his days went any less interesting now that he's 16. Even more so now when his mind is all over the place still discovering the wonders of life and questioning everything he encounters, I count my blessings that he still shares what he does and his deepest thoughts with me.

What do you admire in your child? Comment below or e-mail me. I would love to hear your thoughts.


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