Thursday, April 14, 2011

Lessons I Want to Teach my Daughters

I recently finished reading a book written by Alexandra Stoddard called "Things I Want My Daughters To Know."    I originally picked up the book because, having three daughters, I feel a huge responsibility to teach them everything they need to know to become successful women since I am their primary female role model.  I will take any advice or help I can get!  In the book, Stoddard lists about 55 "life lessons" she hopes to have imparted to her two daughters.  Some of the pearls I agreed with; some I did not.  However, it got my "wheels turning" as I thought about all the lessons I want to teach my own daughters.  So - you guessed it - I came up with a list.  (Not to worry - there are nowhere near 55 items on my list.)  Here are the top 20 things I hope my daughters will learn from me as they grow and mature into beautiful women, professionals, wives, and mothers.

1)  Appreciate your history.  Unlike the good ol' portrayal of the stork with a baby in a sack, you were not just randomly dropped on this earth.  You came from somewhere; you came from someone.  Be proud of that and cherish it. Professional acquaintances come and go.  Friends come and go.  Family is constant.  That doesn't mean there won't be disagreements or differences, but family is family - you are tied to them forever.  Appreciate them.  Love them.  Stay connected to them.  Always.  When everyone else disappears, they will still be there.

2)  Be a Lady.  This one is about how you present yourself to others.  (And it is not just a Southern thing - at least it shouldn't be!)  You never know who is taking notice of you.  Therefore, always present yourself in a way that is appropriate.  There is no need to wear super tight and/or very revealing clothes or a lot of artificial make-up.  Don't take part in gossip or ridiculing others.  You shouldn't compromise who you are in an effort to "fit in."  Don't do something you know is wrong just because "everyone else does it."  All of this sends the message that you do not respect yourself.  If you do not respect yourself, neither will anyone else!

3)  Be Confident in Yourself.  This is one with which I struggle to be a good role model.  I worry about my weight, my clothes, my housekeeping and my cooking skills.  I often lose sight of what it says in Psalm 139:13-16 - ". . You knit me together in my mother's womb. . . I am fearfully and wonderfully made. . "  As the old saying goes, "God don't make no junk!!"  I was made by God; you were made by God.  Therefore, we are perfect.  Your curly hair, your freckles, your crazy energy, your wittiness, your laugh - everything about you is wonderful and perfect.  Never doubt the beauty God has created in you!

4)  Do What Makes You Happy.  If you want to play sports, play sports.  If you want to play music, play music.  If you want to be a doctor, study hard and be a doctor.  If you want to be a teacher, give it your all and be a great teacher.  Do what makes YOU happy - not what all your friends are doing; not what will earn you the biggest salary.  Friends and money are worthless if you are miserable.  Do what makes YOU happy; what brings you joy.  You will receive rewards much greater than money or fame.

5)  Be Financially Responsible.  Money is never constant.  Sometimes you will have more; sometimes you will have less.  Often, it takes a long time to recover from mistakes you make with your money.  As they say, money is a necessary evil - you must have some of it to survive in this world.  While money does not buy happiness, mismanagement of your finances can lead to stress and strife.  Learn to create a budget and stick to it - regardless of how much money you have (or don't have).  Learn the difference between what you want and what you need.  You will save yourself lots of turmoil and worry if you learn how to be responsible with your finances.

6)  Keep Order in Your Life.  As you probably know, I am a little fanatic when it comes to organization.  There is a reason for that.  I have learned that keeping order in my life makes things easier in the long run.  It is easier to run out the door in a hurry if you know where to find your shoes and your purse.  It is easier to pack for an unexpected trip if most of your laundry is clean.  It is easier to entertain unexpected guests if you have a clean house and a stocked pantry.  It is easier to get children to bed if you follow a predictable schedule.  Keeping order to begin with will keep you from stressing and scrambling later.

7)  Laugh.  This is something your father has taught me a lot about.  When you laugh, you can't help but feel good.  Some of my best memories of your childhoods, so far, are of times when we laughed together or times when you made me laugh until I cried.  Laughter will help you get through the tough times, too.  Bill Cosby said, "You can turn painful situations around through laughter.  If you can find humor in anything then you can survive it."  Keep laughter in your life - it is good for your soul!

8)  Don't Forget to Take Care of Yourself.  As women, we are often expected to take care of others.  That is impossible if you don't first take care of yourself.  Once in a while, buy yourself something new even if you don't really need it; get a manicure; take a nap.  Never feel guilty for taking a moment to "recharge your own batteries." 


9)  Follow Through.  Finish what you start and keep your commitments.  What's the point of reading a book if you skip the last chapter??  Finish the book.  Finish the project.  You may discover it's an activity that you do not want to do again, but finish anyway.  When you tell people you will do something, you must follow through and keep your commitment - someone is counting on you; don't let them down.  If you do, they will learn that you cannot be trusted.  Only under extreme or emergency circumstances is it ever acceptable to break your promises.

10)  Do Not Wish Your Life Away.  While you are a child, enjoy the lack of responsibilities; enjoy the carefree nature of things.  Don't spend it wishing to grow up faster.  When you are young and single, travel; enjoy spending time with friends; enjoy being independent and free.  There is no need to spend your time fretting about when you will meet "Mr. Right" or when your life will become bigger and better.  It will happen - be patient.  Take time to enjoy being a wife - just a wife.  Your time as a mother will come.  When you are a mother, enjoy your children.  Don't wish for them to grow up faster - it will happen soon enough.  Each stage of your life is a unique gift.  Be wise enough to recognize the beauty of each stage and enjoy it while you can - it will not last.

11)   Be Strong.  Be brave.  As much as I would like to, I cannot shelter you from bad things in life.  You will experience failure.  You will experience loss and sorrow.  You will experience disappointment.  When you do, it is o.k. to cry.  It is necessary to grieve.  However, you cannot let the bad times define you.  Be strong and be brave.  Face the obstacles head-on.  Learn from the tough times and find a way to move forward.  When you come out on the other side, you will be proud of yourself and you will appreciate the beauty of the good times even more.

12)  Know your limitations.  Superman is a mythical character.  No man (or woman) can do everything.  You have God-given talents.  You also have God-given limitations.  This is why one of my favorite prayers is the Serenity Prayer.  It says "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference."  If you are not artistically inclined, you can change that by learning new skills, but do not expect to paint a masterpiece right out of the gates.  If you are only 5'3", do not expect to be the star center on the girl's basketball team.  You cannot change your height.   You should most definitely expect greatness from yourself and set high goals, but sometimes you must be realistic and adjust your goals to fit your skills, talents, and physical abilities.  Everyone has a certain amount of time and energy as well.  Do not commit to so many things that you end up running out of time or energy before you are able to complete the tasks.  Also remember that there is no shame in asking for help.  It is not a sign of weakness.  On the contrary, it shows that you are self-aware and realistic.

13)  Learn to Cook.  It doesn't have to be gourmet and it is not necessary to do it every day, but being able to prepare a meal for yourself, your guests, your family, or a friend experiencing hard times will give you a sense of accomplishment and pride.  By preparing meals yourself, you can be more healthy and more frugal.  You can experiment with tastes and textures.  You can adjust recipes to your own personal liking (or the liking of those you are serving).  Food is everywhere in our lives.  Learn to enjoy the creative opportunities it offers.

14)  Proofread!  There are few things I can think of more frustrating that turning in a paper, sending an email, or posting a blog only to realize later that you made very basic mistakes.  It is also quite annoying to receive a letter or an email and see that the person who sent it didn't take the time or put forth the effort to write it properly.  It shows laziness and apathy.  Proofreading is simple and doesn't take much time, so do it.  Then, do it again.  The more important the document you are writing, the more times you should proofread it or have someone else proofread it.

15)  Learn Proper Grammar.  Learn when to use I or me; when to use he/she vs. him/her; the difference between there, their, and they're; the difference between your and you're; the difference between it's and its.  Don't end sentences with a preposition (i.e. Where is he at? = nails on chalkboard).  Don't start sentences with conjunctions like but or and (these words are meant to join things, not begin things).  The rules of grammar are not terribly complicated and will eventually become natural if you practice them regularly.   Using proper grammar (and spelling) is an indication that you have paid attention to details.  It shows that you are intelligent and educated.  (If you are ever unsure ask Memaw!!)

16)  Present Solutions, Not Just Problems.  There is nothing wrong with speaking up when there are problems that need to be addressed whether it is in your job, in your home, or in your relationships.  However, do not just complain and whine.  State what you see as a problem and then present a solution.  Your solution may not be utilized in the end, but being able to present one shows that you have carefully considered the situation.  It proves to others that you are not just complaining, but that you are trying to help solve the problem.  Your "complaints" will get more attention and respect if you can be helpful in reaching a resolution.

17)  Surround yourself with good people.  You cannot choose your family, but if they bring you joy and peace, embrace them.  Turn to them in times of need or anxiety - big or small - and they will give you the insight and comfort that you need.  You can choose your friends, so choose wisely.  Surround yourself with positive, supportive, intelligent, morally ethical people with whom you share a mutual respect.  Choose friends who see your beauty (inside and out) and who make you a better, happier person by bringing you joy, laughter, insight, and peace.  (Remember, too, that your eventual husband should be your absolute best friend.  If he is not a good friend he will not be a good husband.  He should bring you joy and peace as well as romance and love!)

18)  Stand up for your beliefs.  If you are liberal, be liberal.  If you are conservative, be conservative.  Once you have chosen a stance, stick with it.  Don't be wishy washy and change your opinion to please someone else or to avoid confrontation.  That shows others that your are weak and easily influenced.  No matter which side you take on any issue, be educated and be able to intelligently defend your position.  Don't be afraid to speak out - in an intelligent, ethical manner - to defend your cause.  If you are educated about the topic and can express your thoughts clearly, people will respect your opinion even if they disagree.

19) Use Common Sense.  As the old saying goes, "common sense is not that common."  It is a simple rule, but one that many people fail to follow.  If something seems like a bad idea, you probably shouldn't do it.  Common sense.  If certain people or activities make you unhappy, stay away from them.  Common sense.  When trying to solve a problem, don't make it more difficult than it needs to be.  Common sense.  You are all wonderfully smart, intelligent girls, but intelligence cannot be substituted for common sense!

20) Have Faith.  Faith in God.  Faith in yourself.  Faith in people.  Faith in humankind.  Bad things happen.  During your life, you will experience sadness and anger and fear and loneliness.  If I could protect you from it all, I would do so without hesitation.  But, I can't.  When you face adversity, remember that there is always good in people and there is so much good in the world.  Find it.  Hold onto it.  Have faith that, eventually, the good will always overcome.


Girls,
As I read back over these, it is painfully evident that I am not perfect.  Although I try, I don't do all these things all the time.  However, I think I do them more often than not.  Some of these pearls I have learned the hard way.  Some I am thankful to have learned from my parents.  Some I have learned form others or just from experience.  I know there are things you will eventually add to your own list of "Life's Rules," but I hope this gives you a good start and a solid foundation.  Above all else, remember that you are loved more than you will ever know - by me, by your Daddy, by your family, and by God.  I pray that love will give you the strength and courage to be the best person you can be - always.  


59 comments:

Carol said...

Hi Lisa,
This is your cousin Carol. I just wanted to say how much I love this entry, it was just beautiful! You are such a great writer and I really enjoy reading your blog. This entry is my favorite, thanks for sharing this!

Anonymous said...

Lisa, I have just one word for this. BEAUTIFUL! I hope you keep a "hard copy" for each of the girls! Love you, Risa

Anonymous said...

Greetings Lisa!
What a great blog. . .Sheila Beckner sent me a link. Such an insightful, and delightful writing. If you don't mind, I'd like to utilize this in the coming months with a new church that I will be serving alongside. It would be such a terrific way to encourage our families and believe me, you have some strong skills in reflections that would serve as good meat for sermons!!!
Blessings!
Katrina Salter (Wood)
Warner Robins, GA

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youareagoodmama.com said...

This is a great list! Sounds like a recipe for a strong, well-adjusted, independent woman. Found you on Honest Voices!

Karen said...

Oh man...this is truly beautiful. I really think your daughters are lucky to have such an insightful mama.

fadedginger said...

This list is perfect. You've encapsulated the best parenting goals right here. (I came from Honest Mom's link up.)

Michelle Nahom said...

This is an awesome list!! I absolutely love it! Pinning!!

Lisa @ The Golden Spoons said...

Thanks Michelle! thanks for pinning and tweeting, too!

Kim Hall said...

These are excellent points and terrific lessons! They follow very closely what we have worked to teach our daughters, who are now 25 and 28. While the girls railed against their "mean" parents when they were younger, they deeply appreciate their upbringing and the love of and for their family. For any parent in the midst of those tough times, I would add a lesson for parents: stick to your guns in the teaching of these lessons. They are a priceless gift for your children they just may not appreciate until they are older. :-)

Lisa @ The Golden Spoons said...

Thanks, Kim! I certainly hope I can stick to these as my girls grow up and I definitely hope they appreciate them when they are older.

Robin Reed Grosland said...

What a beautiful message. So many wonderful things to teach/remind them and us about. We each have days when we're very good at some and not so good at others. Thanks for a few reminders I needed today.

Nicole Nenninger said...

What a beautiful post! I am the mom to 3 girls too and it is hard to raise them these days with so many disempowering messages from society and the media on how they should be "perfect." It says a lot about you as a mom that you took the time to write these beliefs out. What a wonderful gift to give to your girls. I think the best gift you can give any child is to let them know they are loved, that they are enough, and that they matter. When they feel that--truly feel it deep down--their spirits grow exponentially.

Lisa @ The Golden Spoons said...

Thank you so much Robin! I think we all need these reminders sometimes. :-)

Lisa @ The Golden Spoons said...

So very, very true Nicole!! Thank you so much for reading!

Ugochi said...

Beautiful post! You know, many would think us "old school" for sharing these thoughts. I pray God touches the hearts of us all to follow...

I shared something like this about a year ago, hope you don't mind my sharing here...
http://cornerstoneconfessions.com/2013/09/t2t-linky-party-69.html



Visiting from SITS, congrats on being featured!

vinma said...

Thought provoking! I loved all the points, but mostly, I loved 'Be confident in yourself' point :) Its really important to be confident in order to be successful in life and I think it can even be a life lesson for everyone :) Happy SITS day to you :)

Shana Norris said...

So many great lessons and values here. I've been thinking a lot about legacies and patterns and cycles that are passed down from parents to children lately. It's very easy to see how it happens when I look at how much like my own parents I am, and how much like his parents my husband is. Of course, there's the nature vs. nurture debate, but no matter how you shake it, nurture plays at least SOME kind of role in who we turn out to be, and who our children will turn out to be.

No Skinnies said...

What a wonderful list! I have 2 daughters. It's so scary to think of all of the negative influences they will encounter in their lives. You are right - we have to start by teaching them ourselves! Congrats on your SITS day!

Happysuz said...

Great list! Right now I'm especially concerned with 2,3 and 4. Getting my 1st grader to be herself and do what she wants and what she thinks is right. We have some negative I flue cues in our neighborhood that are unavoidable, so I work really hard at these. Happy SITS day!

secretsofamomaholic said...

My children are small- 4 & 6...my 6 year old is a girl. I worry about them being around mean spirited kids and always try to remind them to keep good company and to always be happy. This is a great post.

HomeJobsbyMOM said...

All of these are amazing lessons that my son's or any children would benefit from. Such a great list!

Chris Carter said...

These are all lovely wonderful things to teach and impart on your daughters!! I agree with every one of them!! BRAVO!! :)

Phenomenal Mama said...

This is in a word, "phenomenal"! I wrote a little book of reminders for my daughter and shared some similar thoughts/advice/wishes for her. Your daughters are very lucky to have your wisdom to guide them!

MamaRabia said...

This is an amazing list, Lisa. Thanks for sharing it. I'm glad I caught your SITS day!

Seana Turner said...

Well, I love the list Lisa. Have to admit I have fallen short on a few, though I agree with them all! Stopping in from SITS. Blessings as you work on instilling this list into your girls:)

Tiffany Mrsh Haywood said...

This is a great list to use as a guide for any Mom with girls...Happy SITS Day!

Aja Jackson said...

Great list! I especially like the confidence post and how you acknowledged that it is something you struggle with (we all do at times!) Happy SITS Day!

Lisa @ The Golden Spoons said...

Thank you so much!

Lisa @ The Golden Spoons said...

Absolutely! Thanks for visiting!

Lisa @ The Golden Spoons said...

I agree wholeheartedly! Thanks for visiting!

Lisa @ The Golden Spoons said...

It is scary. I hope I am teaching them well! Thanks for visiting!

Lisa @ The Golden Spoons said...

Those can be really tough in the face of today's peer pressure! Thanks for visiting!

Lisa @ The Golden Spoons said...

Thanks so much!

Lisa @ The Golden Spoons said...

Motherhood is indeed grand responsibility isn't it? Thanks for visiting!

Lisa @ The Golden Spoons said...

Thank you so much!

Lisa @ The Golden Spoons said...

Thank you Chris!

Lisa @ The Golden Spoons said...

Thank you so, so much!

Lisa @ The Golden Spoons said...

I'm glad too, Rabia! :-) Thanks!

Lisa @ The Golden Spoons said...

Thank you so much! I, too, fall short many times, but we're all trying our best!

Lisa @ The Golden Spoons said...

Thank you so much!

Lisa @ The Golden Spoons said...

Thanks Aja! It means nothing if I'm not honest, so I hope my girls will "get it"!

Alison Hector said...

Beautiful, Lisa. You poured your heart out to your girls in these encouraging lessons. May they keep these lessons close to their hearts as they mature.

Lisa @ The Golden Spoons said...

Thank you Alison! I certainly hope they will~

Jennifer Barbour said...

These are all great pieces of advice for girls. I wish I had heard some of these when I was growing up.


Happy SITS Day! :)

Lisa @ The Golden Spoons said...

Thanks Jennifer!!!

Mo at Mocadeaux said...

What a beautiful gift for your daughters. This list is thoughtful and comprehensive. I especially love that you confess to not achieving every one of these yourself. I think our kids need to know that we are human - always trying to do better, but always human. Happy SITS Day!

Andrea said...

Good lessons! I'm just going to send my daughter to your house so can learn a few of these. That would be great. Hope you enjoyed your SITS day.

Lisa @ The Golden Spoons said...

:-) Thanks Andrea!

Phyllis Collar said...

i am gonna show this to my girls when they get home from school!!

Jennifer Kaufman said...

I love this - you've got my wheels turning, as well! Thank you for sharing :)

Lisa @ The Golden Spoons said...

:-) Awesome!

Lisa @ The Golden Spoons said...

Thanks for reading!

TheMissusV said...

I have a daughter and I would want her to learn all of these things as well especially standing up for her beliefs and having faith in God.

Jean L said...

Great list! Especially love " Do Not Wish Your Life Away"!
Happy SITS day!

MamaRabia said...

This is a great list!! I may have to read over it with my daughter! Thanks for linking up with my anniversary celebration!

Christie said...

I am going to save this for my girls for when they are older. Love it.

Lisa @ The Golden Spoons said...

Thanks!

Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom said...

How did I ever not read this post before Lisa?! This is wonderful and I agree with all your points. Learning to cook... umm, yeah! I'm totally pinning this!


Thanks so much for sharing at my #Blirthdaybash and for joining the celebrations!


Wishing you a lovely day.
xoxo

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