Love your daughter enough to share your wisdom with her from a young age. I cannot stress this enough. When my future daughter is 2, I’ll show her how to smile at the lady next to us in the coffee shop. When she’s 5, she will write her teacher a long Christmas letter at the end of her first school year.
When she’s 6, she’ll ask why there is a black boy at her school and why isn’t he white? And I’ll tell her that whatever anybody looks like, if they’re black, white, if they have hair or no hair, or no teeth or maybe sometimes marks on their faces, they are beautiful and they deserved to be loved. At the age of 7, I’ll explain to her that, yes, Lucy from school only lives with her mummy, but that’s okay because her mummy loves her a lot, and I’m sure her daddy does too. I’ll also tell her that when someone doesn’t see the person they love very often, they feel sad, so maybe it would be nice for her to play with Lucy sometimes or share lunch together.
When she’s 8, I’ll tell her about how some people don’t have homes or families and that she can help by putting $5 of her birthday money in a charity box. At the age of 9, I’ll ask her to help me prepare meals to give to people who aren’t well off. When she reaches 10 years of age, I’ll have told her daily since she was born how much I love her, and how much she can give to the world. She will know that a smile is the prettiest thing she could wear and that every individual deserves to be loved.
When she’s 12, I’ll take her to a retirement village and she’ll come in with me when I read to the older people. By 15, I will have ingrained into her how to see the good in people, and how to look past superficial imperfections.
And at 15, she’ll start to wear make up. And I’ll tell her that’s okay, you can wear make up, just don’t hide your pretty skin behind that too often. She will struggle with the way she looks and she might not eat everything that’s on her plate. And I will be patient and I will tell her that she is a beautiful young girl and that 1) her weight does not define her and 2) food is not the enemy. I will tell my daughter to watch the news, and I will make sure she is educated on world matters. At 16, her room will be her place of safety when she cries, and she will spend more time on her phone than talking to me. I will tell her that sadness is natural but if you ever feel like the sadness won’t end, I need you to tell me and I will help. I will teach her that swearing is okay, but educate yourself with a brilliant vocabulary to back yourself up with. She will be told that perfume is a must, brush your teeth three times a day, eat your fruit and veg and if you’re sleeping less than 8 hours a night then that’s not good enough. My daughter will know that personal hygiene is important and that respecting herself will show through the way she presents herself, the way she walks and the way she holds herself.
I will ask her how her day was, and I’ll still say goodnight to her every night and when I do, I’ll look into her eyes and say, ‘I love you, have a good sleep.’ At 17, she’s had her heart broken several times. And I’ll just hold her and let her cry. And I will tell her after she stops crying, that sometimes you are meant to fall in love but not destined to be with that person. Because at 17, she needs to know that I believe she is capable of falling in love. I will tell her that true love is a rare and beautiful thing and nothing compares to it. I will also tell her that she does not need a boy to make her happy or to define her self worth, and instead to find her self worth in the small beauties of life. I will take her on hikes and long drives on Sunday afternoons. I will teach her to appreciate beauty and to find peace in the calm still waters of rivers and lakes.
Just before she turns 18, she will be excited about driving a car, and being able to drink. And I will tell her that I’m excited for her too. I will tell her that drinking is good, when you’re around good people; but never to drink alone, with people you don’t know, and never when you are distraught. I will make her promise not to get intoxicated to the point of not knowing where she is. And if she does, that she can call me and I will come and pick her up wherever or wherever and I will make sure she knows I won’t lecture her, because it goes without saying that she will have learnt her lesson.
I will tell her that driving is the key to independence, but use your independence wisely when you drive, knowing that your life and others are in your hands. I will tell her don’t drink and drive, don’t speed, and always concentrate.
I will tell her I trust her, and that I will always love her no matter what.
At 19, my daughter will have a wardrobe full of clothes. And I will tell her to enjoy her nights out but please wear something that reveals dignity. I will tell her that her body is beautiful, too beautiful for just anybody to look at. I will tell her, never go home with a stranger and please never walk around town or the city at night by yourself or with another girlfriend. I will tell her that the world can be a beautiful place but it can also be fucked up, and that yes, some people will do bad things. I will tell her to stay wary, and always trust her instincts.
When my daughter turns up one day with a boy, I will welcome him with open arms and I will make him feel at home. And if he doesn’t stick around, I’ll do the same for the next boy, and the next, because my daughter needs to know that I accept her searching for the right one. And if my daughter comes home with a girl, I will welcome her with open arms. I will say, ‘it’s wonderful to have another girl in the house’.
If she comes home one night and tells me she’s pregnant, I will not break down into hysterics, I will tell her how precious her baby will be, and how my support will extend in every possible way, because by now she should know that I will always support her.
By now, she will have learnt the many lessons that life has thrown at her. But thanks to you, because you love your daughter, you shared your wisdom with her from a young age, and for that she will thank you for the rest of her days.