I think about the things I wish I knew growing up, the things I wish someone had told me. Now, as I await the birth of my daughter I think about what I would like her to know about life. There are so many things I want her to know, more than can be contained in a blog post or even a book, but when it comes to men there are a few that stand out.
Here are the top 10 things I want to teach my daughter:
Dear Baby Girl,
1. You don’t need a man- You don't have to compromise your values to “get” a man. You are valuable and have a purpose aside from any person. Recognize your good qualities so when the time comes, you can choose well- not out of desperation, but of love. No man will be able to fill your greatest longings. No matter what, if you don’t know yourself, your purpose, and what makes you happy, you cannot look to someone else to do that for you.
2. Be courageous. Sometimes it is not easy to do the right thing. Sometimes you might feel like the only one, but always try and do the right thing even when you are afraid or it is difficult. It is easier having other people not like you than not liking yourself. You will always have to live with yourself. Learn when and how to say “No” and not feel badly. Be assertive, not aggressive.
3. Respect and dignity- these words have been contorted to mean a lot of things. These are very important words. Spend time finding out what these words mean- not just what the dictionary says. Look at people you respect, spend time with them and never give away your dignity.
4. Think long term- It might seem like a good idea now, but take a second to think about how you will feel in a year and five years. Remember we will all make mistakes- all of us. Mistakes are inevitable but how we deal with mistakes is the mark of who you are. Know that you are never alone in your decisions. Go to someone you respect and ask for their advice.
5. Make your own decisions before someone else makes them for you. Now, I make the decisions for you. There will come a time when you have to make your own decisions. Always remember that every decision you make can have a great impact in your life. Even deciding not to decide is making a decision. Make sure that you know why you are doing what you do.
6. Learn from others. Surround yourself with a group of mentors your trust. Find women you admire that you know. Yes, there are celebrities and women of history you can use as mentors but also look for the women in your life- older women, women at work. Look at those qualities you admire and see what they do every day to make those habits a character. Also, look at your dad, your brothers, your grandfathers, and your family mentors. Are they men you admire? Why? Start to look for those qualities when choosing a boyfriend and eventually, a spouse.
7. Look deeper. Though you may be tempted to look at the outside, make sure that you focus on what is inside the heart of people, including yourself. It is so easy to get swept up in the superficial but how a person treats others is more important than what they do or look like. Remember those mentors- do you care about them just because of the way they look or what they have? Of course not! Just expand that to other people.
8. Don’t worry about everyone else's opinion, but value the opinion of those you trust. What do YOU think about yourself? That is what really matters. This means you should not compare yourself to others. Fear of what other people think can hold you back. You might hear “don’t worry about what anyone else think” and there is wisdom in that advice. However, remember those people you truly respect? What would they say? Consider their opinion. I want you to hear their voice of reason when you are afraid or you need to think twice. I just don’t want you to worry about what other people think when it comes to making decisions you know are right.
9. Learn to ask good questions. Don’t just accept everything everyone (including the Internet) tells you. Learn to ask good questions so you know why. Sometimes doctors, teachers, lawyers or pastors can seem intimidating but it is important you understand WHY you are taking a certain medication, getting a certain procedure, making a certain plea in court, reading a certain book or even why you believe what you do.
10. Believe! Don’t be afraid to believe in things that are bigger than you. People can be terrible, they can lie and will hurt you. People can also be amazing and trustworthy. Don’t let skeptical people talk you out of believing in love, family, faith or hope.