I always wanted to have daughters — and I got them. I love every minute of it, from the tea parties and pedicures to what we affectionately (mostly) call the "hair wars" in our house. But I'd be lying if I said it was easy. From a very young age our girls are targeted with messed-up media messages (think "Thin is beautiful, and beautiful is everything, and if you want to be happy, you need these shoes!") and exposed to all manner of temptations, online and otherwise. As a parent who can shape who they'll become, there are many life lessons that I'd want to teach any child of mine. But there is also some specific advice for daughters. Here are 20 girl-centric things I want them to know.
1. Learn the word NO. Sure, I don’t like it one bit when you say it to me, but in the big, scary world out there you will be faced with endless tough choices. From boys to beers to inappropriate Instagram photos, potential trouble will lurk everywhere you go. You know that little voice you have inside, the one that tells you something doesn't feel right? Listen to it. Respect it. And most importantly, use it to say NO. It won't be easy a lot of the time, but I assure you, you’ll almost always be glad you did.
2. Spend more time worrying about how beautiful you are inside than outside. It's fine to take pride in your appearance and want to be pretty. But if how you look is all you care about, you'll pay for it down the road. Yes, you are beautiful — magnificently, achingly so — but never forget that you didn't do anything to create or even deserve that. True beauty comes from being kind and thoughtful and compassionate. If you're ugly on the inside, you're ugly. Period.
3. Stuff won't make you happy. Oh, in the moment — when you're pining for that headband/skateboard/Fijit Friend/designer purse — you will truly, madly, passionately believe that they will. But things break. We lose them. They run out. They go out of style. They become uncool (the worst!). Happiness comes from appreciating the things you do have, not acquiring more.
4. Some girls are mean girls Be extremely careful when you choose your friends. At the risk of throwing our entire gender under the bus, girls can be nasty and petty and jealous and cruel. Some of them will lie to you or pretend to be your friend or stab you in the back, and it will hurt like hell every single time. If you're totally unprepared for it, it will crush you even more.
5. Girlfriends will save your life. Yes, girls can be awful, so when you find a loyal, true friend, hold onto her for dear life, and do your best to be loyal and true right back. Boys will come and go, but a good girlfriend will be your steady through the peaks, the valleys and everything in between.
6. Don't judge people (but know that you will be judged). It's a catch-22, kid: I've taught you not to assume things about people simply by the way they look or the clothes they wear; unfortunately the rest of the world won't always do the same. Remember that when you want to bare your belly or pierce your tongue or dye your hair blue. (This may not matter much to you now, but wait until you're trying to get a job or meeting your first boyfriend's — or girlfriend's — parents.)
7. Boobs are overrated. Until you have them, you're going to want them. When you get them, you'll obsess about them. Are they big enough? Too big? Is one bigger than the other? (Yes, it probably is. Every breast on the planet is different, even the two sharing the same bra. Accept it and get over it.) No matter how you feel about your boobs, remember that they're not called "private parts" for nothing. So do yourself (and me!) a favor and cover them up. Nothing you could ever do screams I NEED ATTENTION like putting your perky young rack on display.