Advice for our children

silhouette of mother kissing her daughterYesterday I received this request:

“To my dear female friends, family, colleagues and funky ladeez,

This is a personal request. My daughter, *****, is turning 16 on Monday. Wow where did the time go! Anyway, I am wanting to give her something that money can’t buy and that she can take with her wherever she goes – collective women’s wisdom.

The idea came to me after I stumbled across a book in the ABC Shop written by a Melbourne journalist, Dilvin Yasa, titled “Things My Daughter Needs to Know: The truth about drugs, drink, sex, tattoos, babies, strange men and high heels”.  The blurb on the back states “The perfect book for mums who want to share with their daughters and for daughters who can’t always share with their mums. The author writes a letter to her daughter (who is only young now) on many different topics and then a series of tips for each of these. There is also a space for mum’s to write down their tips for their daughters.  I do agree with most of what is in the book – but not everything.  And that is ok – we are all different. I am going to write in my tips for *******.  But I was thinking, “Is she really going to listen to my ramblings,  I am her mother.”  Please don’t take this as mother bashing, as us mothers get blamed for everything. But let’s face it, how many times did we roll our eyes out loud when our mum’s told us something (whether warranted or not!). So I thought if I collected other women’s thoughts and ideas this would give it more validity and be an invaluable non-judgemental tool for her to navigate through life – and oh so much better than advice on Facebook and other social media!

So I was hoping, if you had time whether you may have any tips that you could send me and I can collate and pass onto my daughter or even  just a saying or motto you live your life by that she can use to guide her as she embarks on her young adulthood.  I have listed all the topics covered in the book below – but don’t feel restricted by these.  You may just have one key word of advice or you may have something on each one.  Whatever you provide will be appreciated. I will collate these and give to ******* on her birthday next Monday. Please let me know if you would like your tip to be attributed to you or not. I am also more than happy to send it to anyone who is interested or who would like to share it with other young women in their lives. Thanking you in advance.”

Author and teenager anonymous for privacy reasons.

My slightly edited reply was this:

Now, for your daughter, I’d love to add a few things, the first being a link to this blog written by a young woman. Your daughter might be a little young – you decide. Not R rated or anything like that, just wisdom, from a younger person. http://lostgenygirl.com/ I love her blog, and often wish I’d written most of them!

I’ve added my comments below to your exhaustive but interesting list! Blimey, once I started, I couldn’t stop!!!!! Your request also made me pleased to remember I have written letters to my boys (not yet given to them) at various stages of their lives. Hopefully it will also make a great blog with a bit of editing and adding to. Let me know how the project goes, and how your daughter receives it. Kate x

  • Body Image: Love yourself, love your body, and know that your weight is only a number
  • Beauty: shows from the inside, based on kindness and generosity, not how you look
  • Fashion: Be your own fashion Queen, don’t be a sheep and follow the rest of the flock!
  • Accessories: A smile
  • Shopping: can’t stand it!
  • Food: eat anything you like – in moderation
  • Health: work on it now, and every day, don’t wait until you’re sick as by then it might be too late to do something about it
  • Drugs: I’ve nursed too many drug addicts and alcoholics to know the horror that can follow, “but I’m only going to try it once”. Alcohol in moderation and if you read the brain research, not before your 20’s, other drugs not at all (IMHO). Not drinking alcohol or taking drugs does not make you a wowser, it absolutely makes you smarter than everyone else. Once you get used to saying ‘no thanks’ others get over it too.
  • Driving: be very very careful of all of the other idiots on the road, and always remember, something you do on the road could hurt someone else
  • Safety: look after your own safety, and look out for your friends and loved ones
  • Friendship: to have friends, you have to be a friend – and you have to be loyal, trustworthy, giving, as well as being able to receive. A few very good friends are worth much more than a lot of ‘social or casual’  friends
  • Dating: is for having a good time and getting close to someone – never date someone who is a bully, or makes you feel ugly or stupid, not ever
  • Men: are often still little boys – wait for them to grow up before you partner with them. They are also strangely wonderful creatures!
  • Sex: is wonderful when it is between two people who love and respect each other. I don’t think casual sex is that great for girls, as I believe that females give more than their body when they have sex; they give part of their heart and soul, and that is too precious to give to just anybody. Also, consider this – don’t have sex until you are ready to be pregnant – no contraception is 100% safe. Read the book, Unzipped
  • Breaking Up: be kind when going about it – I have many gay friends who have taught me much about breaking up. They (not all I’m sure) have a ceremony to say goodbye, and honour the love they had felt, which I think is so honourable
  • Travel: Once you start, you’ll never want to stop! I’d definitely say, do it when you are young, before you have children and more major financial responsibilities. Then I‘d suggest stick to really simple beach side, camping or skiing holidays with your kids until they are about 10, as mostly they won’t remember much of travels before then (so the psychologists say), which will save you heaps of money!
  • Education: From about year 8 or 9, it is entirely up to you. If you decide you don’t want to go to uni straight from school, that’s ok, you can always go later. It is not a failure not to go to uni. Having said that, going to uni as a young person is a lot of fun (or so my young friends told me – I started aged 45) and was the one thing I wished I’d done when I was young
  • Job Interviews: be prepared, be honest, dress in clean clothes and clean shoes (actually, not just for interviews), and be confident. You wouldn’t get asked for an interview unless you’d already done something right. One thing to consider – your social media activities might catch up with you when applying for a job
  • Career: be the very best that you can, at whatever you do… your first job(s) may not be your chosen career, but they will always be a stepping stone in some way, and can add to your CV if you have given 100%. You will always feel better about yourself if you have given your best
  • Money: Spend $1, Save $2 – my father gave me that advice when I was young, and those times I followed it, I was always financially ok!
  • Charity: Begins with you – be kind to yourself and accept who you are; forgive yourself and forgive others; look beyond yourself and help others – find something you are passionate about, and then become a volunteer. The value of volunteering for others, especially those worse off than yourself, is when you are having a bad day, you can always remember how well off you are. E.g I volunteer for the homeless, and when I feel like crap, I think about some very real friends who live under the Morphett street bridge.
  • Moving out: it will be one of the best things you ever do, and will help redefine who you are and who you want to be
  • Housekeeping: be clean, not necessarily tidy, and always share the work equally, even in your parents home…
  • Weddings: Choose someone who loves you equally and respects you  completely, then elope, and save the money from a wedding for travel, if you get married at all
  • Pregnancy:  one of the most wonderful times in your life, also the calm before the storm
  • Motherhood: very scary, but at the same time, wonderful. As a mother, I always used to wonder if I’d been good enough – we always worry too much, because we love our kids so much. Mothers (and fathers seem to always want things for their kids, e.g. a career, going to university, getting a job, being happy, etc., which can just seem like  pressure . Mostly, I wanted my children to be healthy, at peace with themselves, to be independent, and most of all, to be kind, and they are. So although they have not gone to uni yet, which seems to be the current litmus test with many other parents (and teachers) of my generation as to whether a child is successful, my boys are both very successful.

Final comments on parenting:

You may have to do a lot of active learning about parenting as your own parents might not have been such good role models, and you may well have many emotional battle scars to prove it. What ever you do, don’t inflict them on your children or partner.

Spend time by looking in the mirror: acknowledge your own emotional baggage, learn how to get over it, and even how to use it to construct a more positive approach to parenting. Heal. Don’t repeat what you saw as mistakes. We get taught how to things like read and write, how the earth revolves around the sun, and how to do complicated mathematical equations, but we don’t get taught how to be good parents.

And remember, your parents did the best they possibly could, based on their own ability, at the time they were parents, so you cannot blame them for your own adult unhappiness. They loved you as much as you do or will love your own children, and it is up to you to find your own joy, peace and direction in life.

5 thoughts on “Advice for our children

  1. After my cancer diagnosis I had a few birthdays where I asked people certain questions, including what was the best advice you could give ……. so it’s an idea that others have had 🙂

    I personally would say one tip could be that “the best gift you can give to someone is your time”. Plus “it’s better to forget than remember and regret”. One last one – “a smile is the curve that sets all things straight”. Not profound given it’s almost 2am and I can’t remember this type of thing off the top of my head !! 😉

  2. My mother passed away 11 years ago. I am 55 year old. Had my mother given me such a book I would treasure it with all of my heart. She will go back to the book many times and each time she will take away something new. I have recipes written by my mother and even those are precious to me. You might think about starting a cookbook for her for next year. Anything you have personally written will have such special meaning the rest of her life.

    • Thanks Janet, and I understand how precious having recipes from your mum is too. I have a number of tem hand written by my grandmother who I was very close to, and then some time ago found a dress making pattern for some children’s clothes, with my measurements at about 18 months old on it! I’ve been placing recipes onto my recipe blog for my boys for ages too.

      And did I remember to say, I really LOVE being a mum!

      • I think you will be so glad you took the time to make those treasured memories. The boy’s and their families will get so much joy from them. I hope you are also doing something for Peter.

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