What Will You Teach Your Daughter?
This post originally appeared on our old blog Born to be a Bride.
You can’t have a blog, or be any kind of writer, really, without sparking criticism and yes, “haters.” For the most part I brush it off, but sometimes I find that the hurtful musings of others can spark me to really think. One of my favorite haters recently named me a vapid, materialistic b* caring only of my looks. She/he asked me what I plan to teach my daughter. Or rather, accused me of planning to teach her that the only thing that matters is her outer appearance. I’ve spent the weeks since I sent this comment into the virtual trash bin mulling it over. And while I’m well aware that this list will grow and change throughout the months and years that lie before us, here’s what I’ve got so far:
I will teach my daughter that she is the one who determines who she is. That no matter what the world throws at her, or how many times she changes her mind or rewrites the script, she has control over her own identity. And that people who criticize her or put her into a box do not deserve her time or attention. I will teach her to trust herself, to know herself even while she goes through the process of learning who she is.
I will teach my daughter that she is beautiful, from the deepest places inside of herself to the evidence we see actualized on the exterior. That the truest beauty she possesses comes from her heart, her truth, her desire to make a positive impact on the world. But that it’s okay if she wants to decorate the outside. And it’s equally okay if she doesn’t.
I will teach my daughter that the world is a little bit broken and that there are many things to fix. I hope she finds her own pieces of the puzzle to work on, things that interest her and touch her heart. Animal rights, human rights, environmental concerns, whatever it is — I want her to hunger for change and to aid in that change as much as she can.
I will teach my daughter that aside from the important work we do in this world, it’s okay to have interests that are purely for pleasure. It’s okay to love architecture, sports, cars, historic literature, or — gasp — even fashion. Anything that interests her for no greater value than happiness itself. I will teach her to take the time to play games and to seek whimsy and to enjoy.
I will teach my daughter that life is painfully, unfairly short. That it’s not worth it to spend the whole time fretting and regretting. That pain is natural and obligatory, but that she should try to create as much sunshine as she can and to bask in it.
I will teach my daughter that it’s okay to disagree with someone, to argue, to challenge them, to try and show them something new and maybe, too, to learn something different yourself. It’s also okay not to like someone else, maybe even if you can’t pinpoint exactly why. But it’s not okay to be a bully. Ever.
I will teach my daughter that a real man will treat her with respect, not with force. That she deserves to be cherished. And yes, that goes for women, too. Whomever she falls in love with, I will teach her that she has the right to be respected by that person even when things get tough.
I will teach my daughter the value of a dollar. That hard work is not always a straight and easy path to success, but it’s the best one. That she has skills and brains and she’d better use them. She’ll appreciate the good things more if she works for them.
I will teach my daughter, above all else, that she has a voice. That she is stronger than she thinks. And that when someone tries to knock her down, she should dig as deep as she can to find whatever it takes inside to get right back up and keep living her truth. For nothing, not even the perfect shade of lipstick, could make her more beautiful than that.