Sometimes I sit down with my daughters, ages 10 and 6, and have a conversation with them offering adult advice that they are completely not ready for.
Why I feel the need to do this? It’s because there is SO MUCH I want to teach these two girls in the 18 years I have with them. I start to panic about not being able to get it all into their impressionable brains in time.
Never take drinks that you didn’t see being poured! Always dress appropriately! Wear practical shoes! Don’t settle for less than you’re worth! The list is endless. But I’ve settled on these 12 life lessons for my daughters that really get at the heart of what I want for them.
In short: living a life that has happiness and meaning. Loving others as well as themselves.
The most important life lessons I have for my daughters
If you’ve done something wrong, apologize. Taking up space in the world is not doing something wrong.
By now you’ve probably heard the studies about how women apologize more frequently than men. There is an entire #notsorry movement now encouraging women to stop saying “I’m sorry”.
While I agree women apologize altogether too much, I still value politeness and encourage my children (boys and girls) to say they’re sorry when they’ve done something wrong. Even if you accidentally bump someone, it’s appropriate to apologize and ask if they’re ok, right?
The distinction I want to make is that there is no need to over-apologize. If someone bumps into YOU, they say they are sorry for stepping into your space. You don’t say sorry for taking up space. You have just as much business being in that space as they do.
No one has rights to your body except you.
You don’t want to hug Grandpa? Then Grandpa doesn’t get a hug.
You don’t like being tickled? Then Mom and Dad don’t get to tickle you.
Your future boyfriend wants to have sex and you don’t? Sorry, bruh.
(For more ideas of how to talk to your daughters about this topic, check out how I talked to my daughters about Brett Kavanaugh and 5 things every child should know by age 5).
Treat everyone with respect. That doesn’t mean you need to be friends with everyone or be nice all the time.
Schools these days call all classmates “friends”. This can blur the definition of what a friend is to our kids. You don’t need to be friends with everyone, nor is everyone going to like you. You do need to be respectful.
And keep in mind you can respectfully disagree with someone, you can respectfully tell them no, and respectfully ask them to stop doing something.
Follow your passions, the things in life that make you feel alive.
You will hear a lot about what looks good on your college application, dear daughters. But you shouldn’t choose your activities based on that. Similarly, you shouldn’t choose a career based on what makes a lot of money or what an academic advisor says is a good career.
Your job is how you will spend your days. The sum of your days adds up to your life. I want your life to bring you joy and fulfillment. Follow your passions and you will get there, one way or another.
When you’re lucky enough to find true friendship, nurture it and cherish it.
True friends don’t walk into your life every day. When you have one, do everything you can to keep it.
Be there for her. Listen when she needs to talk. Pick her back up when she’s down. When you need it, she’ll do the same for you.
It’s never too late to make a better choice.
I know you’ll make mistakes, my daughters. You might even go so far down the wrong path that you don’t know how to find your way back. That doesn’t mean you’re stuck there forever.
Tomorrow is a new day. You can get another chance to make a different choice. Take the first step in the right direction.
Marry the person who knows you and loves you like your Dad and I do.
That is to say, wholly and unconditionally, whether you’re at your best or your worst.
Sure, romance is fun and exciting. I hope my girls get to experience the feeling of being head-over-heels in the love! But marriage is a decision that should be made with both the head and the heart.
Take the time to get to know one another. Be your true self at all times. The person who knows the real you and loves you unconditionally is the one you’ll want to spend your life with.
Don’t fear the world. Every day you leave the house, you are taking risks. The risks are worth it.
Even if it scares me at times, I WANT you to go out and experience all life has to offer. Don’t be afraid to travel alone just because you’re a woman. Don’t become paralyzed by all the what-ifs.
This is the only life you’ve got, and I want you to make the most of it. You are smart, you are strong, and you don’t need to let fear rule your life.
Be OK with people not liking you.
I know it’s hard. We all want people to like us! It feels so good to be liked.
The problem with trying to get everyone to like you?
Well for one, it’s impossible. There are 7 billion people in the world and they all have their own opinions.
Secondly, having people like you isn’t what matters. Often times when you’re doing the right thing or trying to make change, people aren’t going to like that. You are challenging them and what they know. Doing the right thing won’t always make you popular. (Remember the quote “well-behaved women seldom make history”?)
With experience comes confidence- when you believe in yourself you will be OK with people not liking you.
Be yourself. Everybody else is already taken.
Once you’re ok not pleasing everyone, you will feel so free! You have the freedom to be your true self.
I know you’ll go through a stage of wanting nothing more than to blend in with the crowd. And once you get past that, I know you will blossom. Learn to love your uniqueness, embrace your quirks and oddities and don’t be afraid to show that person to the world. Some won’t like you, but a few will love you.
Don’t fear what is different.
There is a great big world out there, and not everyone is going to look like your or act like you.
Instead of seeking sameness, learn to understand and respect those who are different. Allow yourself to grow and change by broadening your horizons. When you only stick with what you know, you will miss out on so many opportunities to stretch yourself and your world view.
Moving on with your life and being happy is the best form of revenge.
When someone has wronged you, it can be so tempting to act out of spite and seek revenge. But don’t lower yourself to their level.
The ULTIMATE revenge is to move forward with dignity and forge ahead with your life without the toxic person. Turn to the people who truly care about you and do things that bring you joy.
Your memory of the bad things that happened will fade, and you’ll be in a better place. There is no better revenge than that.
Do you agree or disagree? What life lessons do you have for your daughters?
Leave me a comment!
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