The other day I was wandering around Pinterest, and I saw something that caught my eye. It was titled something like “15 things you should teach your daughter before she turns 18.” I don’t know why (it’s not like I choose the things to teach my daughters based on them), but I always enjoy reading these little lists. I often find them to be endearing. Sweet. Nice thoughts on mothering daughters. So I clicked on it and proceeded to read.
Unfortunately, this one was pretty disappointing, and even slightly disturbing. It had points like the following (I’m paraphrasing):
“The only alcoholic beverage you should drink from a bottle is beer.” Okay. This is true. But not one of my top 15 things to teach my daughters before they are 18.
“Every guy looks at other girls’ boobs. They can’t help it. Don’t take it personally.” Really? That’s what you want to teach your daughter before you send her off into the world? Ew.
And “Every slice of pizza you eat requires 30 minutes of running to burn it off. 2 slices, an hour, and so on. That doesn’t even count the beer.” I don’t even know where to begin with the issues I have with this statement. How about that it is just begging for the development of an eating disorder?
Anyway, there are 12 others there. Some of them aren’t so bad. One warns against cutting one’s own hair. Another recommends you don’t ask a question if you aren’t emotionally ready to hear an honest answer. I won’t go into all of them. You get the gist.
I realize that the author’s intent seemed to be preparing one’s daughter to leave home and go to college, where crazy parties and roller coaster relationships can wreak havoc with a young girl’s self esteem and even place her at risk when overindulging in alcohol, drugs, etc. Yes. I get that. I also sense that perhaps this list was written a bit tongue in cheek. I don’t know. It certainly wasn’t cute or sweet or inspiring of warm and fuzzy thoughts of my future as a mother of daughters preparing them to go off into the world as strong, independent, compassionate women.
But reading that list did make me think about the things that I think are important for my daughters to learn before they are 18 (or before they leave the house). So here they are (some of them anyway).
18 Things My Daughters Will Know Before They Turn 18
1. How to change a tire, check oil, and use basic power tools.
2. How to accept a compliment graciously. A smile and a sincere “Thank you” are sufficient. Self-deprecation is not attractive.
3. When meeting someone new, shake hands firmly and make eye contact.
4. The joy of cooking. My Dad tried many times to teach me to cook before (and after) I left home. I was never into it. I always told him, “I’m an intelligent person Dad. I can read and follow a recipe to cook whatever I want.” This is true to a degree, but I viewed cooking as a chore and was really a horrible cook until well into my twenties when I started having fun with it. I want my daughters to learn that cooking is fun and to experience the joy of cooking good food for themselves and others.
5. Do not waste your time in a relationship with someone (boyfriend, friend, etc.) who doesn’t respect you and treat you as a priority. (And for Pete’s sake, if he’s looking at another girl’s boobs in front of you, ditch him!)
6. The things you eat and drink can either be your body’s best medicine or its worst poison. Eat real food and enjoy it. Eat only until you feel satisfied, even if it means leaving some food on your plate. Don’t deny yourself occasional “treats.” Everything in moderation.
And because I want my children to learn about alcohol and drugs from their Dad and me rather than from their peers:
7. Too much alcohol impairs ability to make good choices. Don’t impair your ability to make good choices. If you do drink, be responsible about it. Never, ever get into a car with a driver who has been drinking (including yourself). And from my paranoid side: Only accept drinks that are prepared in your sight, and don’t leave your drink unattended.
8. When you’ve had a bad day, turn up the music and dance until you feel better.
9. You don’t get anywhere in life by speaking negatively of others. If you feel that you need to cut someone else down in order to get ahead, you need to reevaluate where you’re heading. Avoid gossip and backbiting.
10. Be a good friend. Listen well. Friendship is a fine art (wisdom from Great Grandma S), and a true friend is a treasure.
11. Your sisters are your best friends for life. Don’t let disagreements linger. Forgive and love and protect each other no matter what.
12. Beauty and attractiveness are determined more by behavior than appearance. Be kind to others and carry yourself with grace and confidence always.
13. Family is always a top priority.
14. Learn about things for yourself. Don’t believe everything you hear. Know how to do your own research. Form your own opinions.
15. Trust your instincts. If you have a “gut feeling” about something, listen to it.
16. Dress in a classy manner. “Stylish” does not mean “revealing” or “skin tight.” Unless you’re wearing a bathing suit, I guess.
17. Never let someone (including yourself!) tell you you can’t do something. As your Dad likes to say, “If I cannot find a way, I will make one.”
18. If you choose to pursue something, always do it to the fullest. You’ll never regret working hard for something.
What would you add?