Wednesday, January 18, 2012

to teach

I think about raising a daughter a lot.  Not because I want a daughter more than a son, but because it frightens me a lot more to think about raising a girl.  Perhaps this is because I am one-- there are things that scare me about raising a son as well, but I think being a girl is hard.  I don't want my daughter to have some of the same issues I deal/t with as a girl.

Since I loved her post so much, I decided to copy Danielle and make a list of things I want to teach my little girl someday.  Some of them aren't gender specific, but since I think about parenting a lot, a comprehensive list would be REALLY long.

  1. That the gospel is true and living righteously will bring her unfathomable joy, as not living righteously will bring her unfathomable pain.  I want her, of course, to know this for herself and not base her testimony on mine, but I hope she is lucky enough to be one who can learn from other's mistakes and not have to make them on her own.  I hope she is lucky enough to learn the truthfulness of Christ's teachings simply by pondering them in her heart.  Some may argue that this does not make for a strong testimony or a "real" testimony, but it has for me.  There are some lessons that need to be learned through experience, but one does not need to learn to not sin by sinning. 
  2. To dream big.  Because if you reach for the stars, you might not reach them, but you won't end up with a handful of mud either.  (I don't know who said that.)  SNL recently did a skit about the false confidence of the "Youtube generation."  The generation who believes that they are extremely talented and posts videos of themselves on YouTube showcasing their talents.  Or who have "jobs" as "photographers" or "songwriters" instead of engineers or doctors.  It was hilarious and totally true.  But I'd rather have my daughter have false confidence than the alternative.  And if she wants to write songs instead of being a doctor, I'll support her.  I'll encourage her to try and mold her passion into a plausible career (like her mom did), but in the end, I'll support her crazy dreams.
  3. That I love her just the way she is.  Of course, I hope we will have shared interests.  I hope she likes to dance and loves to read.  But, if she is completely left-brained tomboy who would rather be a mathlete than a ballerina, I will find ways to spend time with her doing the things she likes to do, even if she has to teach me.  Especially if she has to teach me. (See #4) I will not try to make her into something she is not and I will assure she knows that not only do I accept her, but I love her and am proud of her, just the way she is.
  4. That she can teach me.  She will be better than me.  Stronger than me.  More faithful than me.  And I will learn from her.
  5. To love herself and her body.  To take care of it and cherish it.  I had an eating disorder when I was younger, and almost every woman I say that sentence to responds with, "Me too."  I don't want that to be my daughter.  This is one of the things that scares me the most.  It terrifies me.  I am so scared that despite all of my efforts, I will pale in comparison to society's expectations.  I will instill in her a confidence outside of her looks, but also in her looks as well, because I know that won't be enough. Who knows if anything will be enough, but I will be damned if I don't put up a good fight.  I recently read this amazing article about a mother's response to her 7-year-old daughter calling herself "fat."  I hope to be that kind of mother.  I also, of course, want to teach her to respect her body, to keep it clean, that it is a sacred gift from God.
  6. To love books.  This might be the one exception to #3.  Reading is so important.  I judge people who don't like to read...I won't deny it.  Reading makes you more intelligent.  It feeds creativity.  It opens your mind to new ideas.  It takes you anywhere you want to go.  I want her to read, read, read.  I read somewhere that if you read something every day, even if it's the back of a cereal box, it increases your IQ by 60%.  I liked what Danielle said about exposing her daughter to good and bad media.  I don't care what she reads; (as long as it doesn't pose a moral conflict) I just want her to read.
  7. To fall in love.  A friend recently lamented to me about being like me and "falling in love too easily."  It's true.  It is also true that it causes a lot of heartache, but it is my opinion that it's worth it.  I have been lucky enough to love four different men in my lifetime, and I consider myself lucky for it.  Sometimes I get sad that I'll never fall in love again, but I think you can fall in love with the same person at different stages of your life.  I'm currently in love with almost-30-something Spencer.  I'm looking forward to falling in love with mid-life crisis Spencer, empty-nester Spencer, and can't-hear-walk-or-see-little-old-man Spencer.  I love my friends.  I love my hobbies.  I love pink. I love fashion.  I love a lot of things, and I love that.  I love love.  I want my daughter to have a great capacity to love.  I want her to love a million different people, a million different things, and a million different places.
  8. To find something she is good at and master it.  I wasn't good at a lot of things because of my physical limitations.  I couldn't do a lot of things on the playground, and although I loved it, dancing was really hard.  To compensate for this, my mom made sure to find things I was good at and foster them.  She discovered I was a good reader, so she read me billions and billions of books, took me to the library once a week, and volunteered every single day of kindergarten during reading hour.  She paid for years of art lessons, and salvaged a typewriter for me in elementary school.  My mom is neither a writer nor an artist, these were just for me, but she loved them because I did.  She is a reader though.  
  9. To be genuine.  Girls can be so mean.  I hope that having a mother who is different can teach her to love people for who they are and look past differences.  I hope she is like my father and never judges anyone, no matter what and who can see the good in anyone.  I hope she is a nice girl and has friends from all walks of life.  That is what I will teach her to be.
  10. To only date men who treat her like her father treats me.  I have a copy of "He's Just Not that Into You" that I plan on giving her when she turns 16, with the "If he's not trying to have sex with you" section removed, or at least changed to "If he's not trying to kiss you."  I don't want her to make the mistakes I did and let boys string her along. I don't want her to pine away for 8 years for a boy who doesn't deserve her, or even waste precious minutes waiting for someone to call.  I want her to seek out men who genuinely love and respect her, and who make sure she knows it.  Other ones aren't worth it. 


Mr. Senator said...

I LOVE dreaming with you Angel! We've got a journey ahead of us, but I know that you are going to be the BEST MOM EVER!!! As usual, I'll try and keep up. :-)

PS... I'm NOT "almost 30-something" I'm late 20's. Don't take my 20's away from me yet! I'm not ready!

Dana said...

Love this Chelsi! :)

Anonymous said...

You made me cry. Damn you.

Becky said...

What an incredible list.

Kari said...

Such a good list! It gave me some things to think about.