I am raising royalty. I have 5 (soon to be 6!) adorable, amazing, beautiful, brilliant, caring, crazy, demanding, daring, excitable and .. well I could complete the alphabet on how much I think of my girls. They truly are princesses, complete with the royal attitude.
Need to teach them…
There are things I aim to teach my daughters. Not just life skills, though I am definitely making sure they know how to cook, clean and do laundry, as well as basic household repairs, but I want to shape that royal attitude so that it serves them well as they grow. As annoying as their independent, assertive.. sometimes stubborn.. diva streak can be, they get it honestly. And it will help them become strong, assertive women. But it needs to be shaped, harnessed and molded in the right direction. It can’t be rebellion or turn into anxiety and a need for control.
Six Life Messages
There are 6 life messages I want to teach my daughters. While these are based on my faith, I hope the sentiment can be shared by all parents. These will shape their identity and give them a foundation for relationships and connections. I’m hoping that I equip my girls with enough emotional strength that they can withstand everything the world may throw at them. I want them to be able to discern society’s lies from the truth.
You are wanted.
No matter the circumstances of your birth or conception or what happened between your father and I, never ever doubt how much you are wanted. I have never felt as fulfilled or satisfied as the day I became your mother.
You are not a mistake.
God designs every human being in the womb, according to scripture. He writes out the plans of our lives, each and every day, before we ever existed. This time and this place is exactly where you were supposed to be. You are a designer original, not an accident.
You are worth everything.
If the Creator of the universe gave up His position, took on a human life, and then voluntarily submitted to death, for us, don’t every doubt your worth. Your very existence has changed the world, and even if that’s all there is, it’s enough.
You are free.
It doesn’t matter if you mess up and are physically imprisoned, or trapped by the consequences of your own choices, you are still free. You are always free to choose again. No one can take away your free will. We can choose your attitude. We can choose to try again. You can choose to start over, deal with the consequences and move on. You can choose to forgive. Everyone has this power. You can choose.
You are a gift.
Your choices, your words and actions, impact others. God gave you to the world. He gave you a life. Whether or not the world actually understands your gifts is irrelevant. You are a gift, and as long as you remember that, no one can ever destroy you.
You are loved.
So much. So incredibly much. I love you. Your father adores you. Your grandparents think the world of you. And the world will love you. It will turn on you just as quick, but the world will love you. Above all, God loves you. Even if your family, friends and the world abandon you, God never will. You can rest in the love of God.
Four Life Skills
There are 4 life skills that I want to teach my girls. These aren’t the practical, hands-on life skills, though those are also on my list. These are the mental and emotional life skills I wish I had learned better when I was younger. These will set them up for success in their relationships and interactions, in how they will raise children and treat friends and future partners.
How to forgive:
Forgiveness is one of those skills that comes with a lot of misconceptions that make it harder. I want my little princesses to know that forgiving doesn’t mean that what the other person did is ok. It means that you let go of what’s owed and taken back your power to choose. When someone hurts us, we want to make them pay. Forgiving means we let go of that need. It doesn’t mean that the relationship is restored. It doesn’t mean that what they did is now allowed or that you aren’t still hurt. All forgiveness means is that they don’t have to do anything anymore to make it up to you, to pay restitution.
I want my girls to be able to work through this process of letting go. They need to be able to take back their part and work through healing, even without an apology. It can be difficult. But even at their young ages, we talk about choices and how to let go. We talk about how to still be ok inside, even when we’re hurt. It’s a skill that takes practice. Lucky for my girls… they have lots of chances to practice with 4 (almost 5!) siblings!
How to take care of yourself:
Having the ability to be ok all on your own is something that I feel is very important. I don’t want my girls to compromise on their values or identity just to please someone or fit in a group. I don’t want them to give up on things that are important to them for the sake of a relationship. That creates unhealthy relationships. I want my children to understand that being on your own is perfectly fine. I have learned that if you need someone else in your life to be happy, you’ll never be truly happy. You may be a social butterfly and love to party, but even the most extroverted of my princesses needs to know how to be ok all by themselves. We practice this by having a quiet independent play time daily, and through their interactions with each other.
They also need to be able to ask for help and accept it graciously, without feeling like they have to offer something in return. I also want them to see and be able to turn down help that has emotionally blackmailing strings attached.
Sometimes my girls will try to manipulate each other, by saying things like “If you don’t do this, I won’t play with you anymore.” and I call them on it every time I hear it. I don’t allow them to say things like that, and I don’t let them make those kinds of emotional blackmail threats. We talk about how the only person you can control is you. I explain that while you may not like what someone else does, sometimes you can’t do anything about it. Then we talk about skill number 1, forgiving.
How to be responsible:
Responsibility is more than just doing chores, or taking care of a pet. I want to teach my daughters that responsibility is an attitude and a discipline. Being responsible means showing up when you said you would, being ready for whatever you may be asked, and keeping your promises, even when it might hurt you to do so. Its about having the discipline to follow through with what you said, and doing your best even when it’s hard. It’s about managing your time and staying organized and a whole host of smaller skills, like diligence and work ethic. And it’s about being careful with what you say you’ll do, because words said in haste may cost you.
There’s lots of opportunities around here to practice this life lesson. One of the biggest examples I can think of is when one of my daughters tried to wrap up a book that didn’t belong to her to give as a present. She got so excited about wrapping presents, she didn’t think about the responsibility of respecting other people’s possessions. I was able to gently point out to her that what she did wasn’t fair to the gift recipient or to the person who actually owned the book. Being responsible really means thinking ahead, choosing carefully, and being prepared to accept the consequences of your choice.
How to decide:
This final life skill I want my children to master before adulthood is probably the foundation skill for all the others. Knowing you are free to choose, knowing that you are loved no matter what you choose, knowing that you are a gift to the world and you are wanted and worth it and right where you should be means that you must learn how to choose wisely. I want to give my children the ability to gain wisdom. Being able to decide means they have considered all the options. They have thought about the consequences of those choices. And they have picked the best thing they can with the information they have at the time, for the best outcome, not just for themselves, but for everyone who may be impacted.
Sometimes deciding is easy, because the only person impacted is you. But even choosing what you wear can be a decision to make carefully, because of the consequences. My oldest loves bright colors and comfortable clothes. She hates jeans and “itchy” fabrics. But sometimes her combinations create quite the sight. We talk about modesty and impressions. I share how, even though it isn’t fair, we’re still judged by our appearances. By teaching my daughter how to choose her clothes, not only for her own tastes and comfort, but also to create the best impression and showcase her best self, I also teach her decision making skills.
Life isn’t fair
I teach them to work with what is, and not how things should be. The reality is, we live in a broken world. And life is not fair. We need to learn how to make choices that work for the best outcome in our fallen world, for everyone. Because we are gifts and we aren’t mistakes, because we are loved and wanted and worth it.. because we are free to make those choices, we need to make the best ones we can.
I hope the messages and life skills I try to teach my children will impact them far more than the academics. This parenting thing is not for the faint of heart. I hope that I model these messages and skills as much as I preach them, and that I can communicate effectively. But most of all, I pray that my children grow up to be the best version of themselves that God made them to be, and that they change the world, just because they can.