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16 Things I Want My Daughters To Know Right Now


When they are very small, we give them warmth, snuggles and, in some cases, if we’re lucky, breast milk. Before their first birthday we are giving them excuses for why we won’t eat the mushy food they are trying so generously to share with us and giving them back their tiny spoons that SOMEHOW keep ending up on the floor. As our children grow up, go to school, make friends, and test our limits, we try our damnedest to give them nuggets of wisdom at each step along the way, finding random opportunities to casually share with them some of the knowledge we accumulated by making horrendous mistakes living a full life.

While not a definitive list of all the insights I intend to bestow upon my daughters as they enter their ‘tween’ years, here are 16 Things I Want My Daughters To Know Right Now, 16 prominent pieces of information I hope they will let marinate in their brilliant minds as they morph into young adults.

    1. You don’t need to eat food out of a box or a bag that’s handed to you out of a tiny window on the side of a building. That with a handful of ingredients, a bit of want-to, and a few spare moments, you can make just about anything from scratch, especially whipped cream which requires only three ingredients plus five minutes of very active arm muscles, and is so very worth it, especially when the chocolate chip pancakes you’ve just made from scratch for dinner are still warm. But that sometimes, a box of mac-n-cheese after a long day IS the best option, but toss some frozen peas in there too to make grandmom happy.

    2. Those impossibly happy people in commercials, on billboards, and in magazine ads are being paid to look that happy. If you don’t need what they are selling, and to be honest, you probably don’t, you do not have to want it or buy it.

    3. No matter if my earbuds are in and I’m on my way to the shower after a sweaty run or if my eyes are peeled on the stoppage time finish of my favorite soccer team’s match or if I’m still asleep before dawn on a weekend morning, should you have something you need to say, something you need to get off your chest right then in that very moment: I am ready to make you and your voice my top priority. Everything else can and will wait. But if you wake me up to tell me you’re hungry, we’re gonna have a problem.

    4. A sensible career may very well pay your bills comfortably, but if your work brings you no joy than you have every right to switch gears and follow your heart.

    5. Your heart may sometimes lead you astray, but there exists no path more worth following.

    6. You will undoubtedly encounter rotten people along your path and they may attempt to cause you harm, but those people are the exceptions to the rule not the standard. It may be difficult, but please do not judge all by the nasty actions or sour intentions of a few.

    7. The good in the world will always outweigh the bad, no matter what the TV, internet, or talk radio announcers say.

    8. You should never intentionally make anyone’s life more difficult. Anyone’s. This means, among many more things, that you should be kind to the waiter who serves you, leave a hotel room in decent shape upon checking out, and put away your shopping cart at the grocery store. Seriously, don’t be lazy, walk the 30 feet and put your damn cart away.

    9. Small moments and actions matter more than we might ever fully know, and the world depends on each and every one of them to keep working.

    10. Your love of reading will take you far, but it’s absolutely okay to enjoy the movie versions of the stories you hold dear…while still believing that the book was better.

    11. College will always be there, but your youth is a ticket only able to be cashed once. That said, please don’t run off with some dude to ‘find yourself’, I’ve worked too hard investing in your childhood to suffer such a cliched fate.

    12. You don’t have to drink beer or wine or any other kind of alcohol to be cool or to relax or to be interesting. Your personality does not and will never need liquid enhancement — it’s remarkable as is.

    13. If people are taking time out of their day to talk about you behind your back, it proves that you’re already far more interesting than they are.

    14. You can love sports every bit as much as a boy might and you don’t have to wear the pink version of your favorite team(s) jersey/t-shirt/logo.

    15. Sports and science and math and engineering and action movies and Star Wars LEGO and comic books and stand-up comedy and fart jokes and magic tricks and race cars are not only for boys, even though it may appear that way sometimes.

    16. If you love something deeply and want desperately to participate in it, you may need to elbow your way in for a seat at the proverbial table. Elbow away, darling.

*Photo of my girls taken with the brilliant Samsung NX30.

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  1. Love ’em all. Especially #12. Which also goes hand-in-hand with another one I don’t think you mentioned. Your self-worth should never be determined by whether or not someone likes you. Or likes you likes you.

    Damn it. Now you’re making me want to write a list.

  2. i just read this to my 7.5 year old
    great list
    thank you

  3. Thank you, Nancy…for reading it and for finding it worthy of sharing with your 7.5 year old!

  4. Thank you, Debbie! I could probably have gone on and on and yeah, not letting others define you and your self-worth is a huge piece of the happiness puzzle.

  5. I don’t even know where to begin. I love so many of these. Elbow away!

  6. Thank you for saying, James! I’m pretty damn happy with that final sentence too!

  7. Great stuff, Jeff. Some of these items are ones I need to take to heart myself.

  8. Good stuff. I like #9 and # 12. Thank you for Sharing!

  9. I love that you don’t sugar coat any of the ideas you’re conveying. I also get the sense the list is not in priority order at all. Instead it’s more of an open ended resource guide they can refer to and apply the particular lesson that fits the situation. Especially when they realize there really isn’t an app for every problem. 🙂

  10. Right on, Vincent, I gave the whole of the order almost no thought which is weird since I am a big tracking guy when it comes to records. There is some rhythm to the list but one may be more applicable than the others at given times in their life so in that way it is more a singular ‘rock opera’ than 16 separate tracks on an album. Haha.

  11. Thank you, Carlos! Yeah, #12 is very near and dear to my straighedge heart. I appreciate you reading and commenting!

  12. I absolutely love #3, my daughters only 10 weeks old but I hope more than anything she’ll know I’ll always take the time to hear her out.

  13. Brilliant article. Will need to plagiarise for my daughter(although she’s only 1 so will email it to her for later). One question though,what are the 3 ingredients for Whipped cream? Here in Ireland, there’s only one – cream.

  14. I hope to pass this list on to my daughter, who’s 2 going on 12. Hell, my 4-1/2 year old sons could use it as well. Great job Jeff!

  15. Gordy, I use heavy cream, sugar and vanilla to give my whipped cream a rich, deep (and sugary) flavor.

  16. Hah! Thanks, Tom. Yeah, this one is written, technically, for where my girls are right now…and for girls…but they ideas are universal and intentionally do not skew “older” in *that* way.

  17. Thank you, James. Yeah, being present, there in the many moments they need us, is large especially in the age of constant digital diversion. I am guilty often of having my nose buried in some device or some *entertainment* so #3 is every bit a reminder for me too.

  18. Good work Jeff! As always.
    Your girls are so lucky.

  19. I’ll keep these in mind, it is a great list. The only thing I want my daughter to know right now us that not absolutely everything needs to go in your mouth. But she shall grow.

  20. Ah, yes, the oral fixation phase. I definitely don’t miss THAT, Seamus. Thanks for reading!

  21. Jennifer Brennan says:

    So beautifully written. Brought tears to my eyes. I wish all parents took the time and had the insight to think like this.

  22. Thank you so much. They may be lucky, but I am the most fortunate of all for having them in my life. Both girls are a pleasure to parent, every single day.

  23. Love it – sharing with my 13 year old girl who still listens to me. Sometimes. 😉

  24. Very kind of you to say, Jennifer. Thanks so much for reading!

  25. Thanks for sharing with her, Jill! I’d love her feedback, if she is willing to share.

  26. Awesome piece my friend! I like lists too!
    3 and 12 are magical, but I like the simple message of 6 and 7…
    Looking forward to reconnecting! Keep up the strong work!

  27. Cheers Jeff, both for the list for my daughter, and my next batch of sweet, vanilla, whipped cream! 😀

  28. Gosh. Wow. This is my absolute favorite of yours, so far.

  29. Oh wow, thank you Deb!

  30. YUM! Enjoy, Gordy!

  31. I’ve read it myself. I’m a 16 years old teenager and i have to say, i’m glad i read this and i think that my parents also think this way. I will think about this when i get in a decent situation.

  32. Best thing you’ve ever written (that I’ve read, at least).

  33. Thanks a lot, Tor. That’s very kind of you to say.

  34. Emily, your comment has made my day. Thanks for reading and for sharing your thoughts.

  35. Pingback: 16 Things I Want My Daughters to Know Right Now - BlogSense 2.0

  36. I am 27 years old and I still needed to hear some of these things!

  37. Haha! Okay, Allie, with your permission, I will now add ‘timeless’ to my list adjectives to describe the 16 tiny pieces of wisdom here. 🙂 Thanks for reading!

  38. Jamie Jackson says:

    This holds true to young adults as well as some adults as well as children, lol! Wise advice 🙂

  39. Pingback: 16 Things I Want My Daughters to Know Right Now | Awareness

  40. If it’s OK with you–I am saving this list for when my daughter is about 10–she’ll be 6 on July 4th! 🙂
    This is absolutely amazing!

    Thank you!

  41. 100% OK with me, Viviane! Thank you! That said, don’t hesitate to sneak in — through words or actions — some of these ideas for your soon-to-be 6-year-old. Our kids are watching and learning all the while, constructing the foundation of the people they will become as adults.

  42. I just read this…applicable to my 22 year old as well. Except for #7…graduation is on Saturday!

  43. Happy graduation! And thank you for reading and commenting, Melanie!

  44. Do you have a post about want you want boys that are the ages of your girls to know?

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