A new year always brings new resolutions — and a fresh sense of panic.

Am I raising my kids right? Are they learning the important stuff?

Am I teaching them what matters?

Because really, I don’t want to be that mom whose kids pop up on TV, twerking around in their undies.

One of the biggest lessons I’ve tried to instill is, always do your best. This doesn’t mean be the best, just try. I’m losing this one.

No. 1, who’s already smarter and better than I am in every possible way, pushes herself too hard in everything, grades in particular. She gets so worked up over stuff that, in the long run, won’t matter. At all.

There was a time — a looooong time ago — I did the same. My insides would twist up like a pretzel over my grades. My report card was my identity. I never excelled at any sports, and though I was, like most teenage girls, a drama queen, I wasn’t a great actress. Good grades made me feel good.

Then, in high school, I got my first failing mark — a B.

I remember tearfully breaking the news to my mom. She asked if I’d tried my best. I had. That’s what matters, she said.

Well, that didn’t help. I’m pretty sure that further fueled my meltdown. Tacked onto my list of adolescent horrors: My mom doesn’t understand me.

It’s so frustrating to know that just as I did with my own parents, my children completely tune out my heartfelt advice (the kids would call it nagging). They’re not hearing me, not about picking up their stupid socks and most definitely not about the more important stuff, like what will lead to happy, fulfilled lives. The thing is, they won’t hear me — for years. Maybe even decades.

Still, that’s not going to stop me because I know what matters. And, if I had to boil down life’s lessons, these would be the biggies:

  • It’s OK to ask for help.
  • Worrying, 99.5 percent of the time, is wasted energy.
  • Never skip breakfast.

While we’re on the topic, no matter what your dad says, pie for breakfast is fine. Now, ice cream for breakfast? Not so much.

  • Little gestures matter, so always help — even if it’s just handing a homeless guy in the street median something from the snack bag.
  • Wearing denim on denim is never OK, no matter what trendsters say.
  • For the love of all that’s holy, never sit directly on a public toilet seat.
  • Respect your parents — even when they drive you crazy. Especially when they drive you crazy.
  • Have faith. In yourself, in others, in a higher power.

Honestly, if I could give my kids anything, it would be the gift of hindsight, that ability to know that all the millions of small things that they obsess about and sweat over really won’t matter in the long run. What does? Being happy and healthy and starting the day, every once in a while, with a slab of berry pie.

Contact Kristen Cook at kcook@azstarnet.com or 573-4194. Cook also thinks cookies count as acceptable breakfast food. For her.