Life

50 Things I Will Tell My Daughter

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Jennifer Harpham
Written by Jennifer Harpham

My child,

You have probably already heard all of this, multiple times, in various rants. But I have created a list of things I need to tell you about life. I hope you never need to read this, but in case I am not around for when you are growing up, here are all of the lessons I have learned and truths that will not be told to you in the current culture.

1. At least twice a day, you must always do these three things: wash your face, wash your hands, and brush your teeth.

2. Family is not defined by who is related to you. It is the people who genuinely love and care for you unconditionally.

3. Gender has nothing to do with biology. There isn’t a manual on it either. Be yourself. Love what you love. Do what you want to do. Don’t tolerate any judgment.

4. Love yourself first. If for some reason you don’t and I am driving you insane, talk to your father. He’s seen me through my darkest days without breaking a sweat.

5. Everyone has flaws. No one is perfect. Even your parents. Which is why you will go to your father to learn how to drive and I will teach you how to play sports.

6. Buy your significant other dinner every now and then.

7. Your GPA does not equate to your actual intelligence.

8. You do not have to be good at yoga…or even like it.

9. You do not have to wear a dress and heels to a dressy occasion.

10. But if you want to, wear the heels regardless of your height.

11. Try on red lipstick, no matter what the assistant at the counter says about your “coloring”.

12. Chase your dreams. Don’t let anyone tell you they are not worth it.

13. We will have the sex talk. Multiple times. And it will be in the car, with the doors locked, and you cannot run away from me. Please just listen. Don’t be embarrassed. I have made so many mistakes that I want you to learn from.

14. But make your own mistakes too. Trial and error is allowed.

15. No one has the right to touch you without your permission. Regardless if you are dating them or are married to them. They need your consent first.

16. And if someone touches you inappropriately, hit them. You have my permission.

17. Pregnancy is not the worst thing that can happen. Safe sex is ALWAYS the best sex.

18. If you are out dancing and someone is watching you, invite them to join you. Don’t be afraid to make the first move.

19. The number of people you sleep with is not a reflection on your integrity.

20. Neither is the number on the scale you step on.

21. There is no shame in waiting for love, no matter what age you are.

22. Never chase after a partner who does not love you. You cannot force them to.

23. Your heart will be broken. That does not mean you are broken beyond repair.

24. People will let you down.

25. Order whatever you want on a first date.

26. Eat the second slice of pizza. I promise it will be delicious!

27. The point of exercising is to be healthy. That’s it. So do it often.

28. Carbs are not your enemy. So that plate of salad you are inhaling will never be better than a plate of my cooking.

29. Learn how to make my pot of sauce and meatballs for when you are sad and I am not there to cook for you.

30. Bake something from scratch at least once. Even if you have no idea what it means to “separate the egg whites”.

31. You’re allowed to order a coke at the bar. You don’t always have to drink when you go out with friends.

32. Like whatever beer you want and don’t offer any explanation.

33. And if you don’t like beer, then the same applies to wine and hard alcohol.

34. You do not have to go to college right after you graduate high school. Take a gap year and reorganize your priorities. Get a taste of the real world.

35. You also don’t have to 100% know what you want to do with your life when you enter college. College is the time to figure that exact question out.

36. Before you settle down, travel to another country for a couple of weeks and live like a local.

37. This actually caused an argument between your father and me, but, sneak out. Stay out past your curfew. Make me worry. Make me angry. Make your father stop me from going out and looking for you. But come home with a smile and an amazing story…just be safe, have a can of pepper spray handy, and remember how to throw a punch like I taught you.

38. You’re allowed to like comic books and video games.

39. Wear sunscreen, even in the winter. Skin cancer is not a fashion trend.

40. Ibuprofen and water. It will fix most problems the next morning.

41. Read. A lot. No matter what genre.

42. Organize a detailed event at least once in your life.

43. Remember this: science is really cool.

44. Find somewhere between 2–4 vegetables you can tolerate. Lettuce cannot be one of them.

45. Put thought into all gifts.

46. When you have an opinion, always have a reason for it. “Because” is not one.

47. Do not take medical advice from the internet.

48. Learn how to change a tire. Meaning pay attention to me as I demonstrate it.

49. If your friends don’t like your significant other, then there might be something you cannot see. Don’t immediately blow off their concerns. Step back, evaluate, and form your own conclusion. If it doesn’t feel right, then it probably isn’t.

50. Last, but not least, you can tell me anything. I promise you, short of joining a cult, I have done it. And even if I don’t have experience with it, I will listen with an open mind before I react. You are my child. That means from the minute you came into my life, no matter what manner that was, my job is to guide you until you are prepared to go out on your own. You have my unconditional love and support, no matter what.

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