As I get closer to the birth of my daughter, I am starting to think more about life as a parent -- what kinds of decisions I will make as a mom and how I will handle certain situations. Although having a “baby” seems to be the major focus right now, and diapers and hospitals and onesies and bottles are on my mind, I know very well that my “baby girl” will not be a baby forever.
I will be raising a human being, the most important undertaking I think I have ever embarked upon. I need to be mentally prepared for this.
Through my own experiences as a child, as well as watching others parent throughout the years, I’ve come to some conclusions about some things I’m determined to offer my daughter so that she can have a good, secure, happy life.
I’ve also come to some conclusions on some things I will not do as a mom (admittedly some of it is based on my observations of mothers while working for a café throughout my college years, as well as working with students and parents in my current job. I’ve seen it all).
This list may not be exactly as my husband’s list would be – he would probably add his own promises from his own perceptions and experiences in childhood, although based on our discussions it should be somewhat similar. : )
My vow to my daughter
- I will not spoil you. We are fortunate enough to be able to give you the world, and I will want to, but I will not. You will learn a work ethic and you will learn the value of money. You will need to save up for things you want to buy, and you will need to get a job when you are of age. You will learn how to get your hands dirty, help out with chores, and wash your own car every now and then. You will thank me later.
- Your first period, first time shaving your legs, trying out makeup, wearing a bra, first high school dance date, and other female milestones, will never be a source of shame for you. We will talk about these things often and early, and we will CELEBRATE them as they happen. You will never feel embarrassed or worried to ask me or talk to me about anything.
- I will never try to be a “helicopter” parent or run your life completely. I will not force my beliefs or political opinions down your throat or try to control you. I will educate you, and teach you how to question the world around you and seek out your own answers, but you are an individual who will need to make decisions. You will need to learn how to cultivate your own beliefs, as well as how to change them if needed, and fail sometimes, and learn from your mistakes. I will support your decisions, unless of course they cause you or others harm. Especially as you grow into adulthood, I will not push my nose into your business, tell you how you have to live, or get mad at you if you don’t do things the way I want you to. If you are making a huge mistake that could hurt you, I will tell you and try to help you. But, you should not be afraid to tell me what your decisions are or how you and your adult family choose to live. I will trust what I have taught you, and understand and embrace that you have your own family now.
- You will know God from a very young age. We will cultivate a passion for goodness, a joy for life, and faith in your heart. You will understand that our family follows God’s rules, regardless of religious affiliation.
- I will never criticize or judge you for what you want to wear, who your closest friends are, your body, your personal habits, etc. This can be very damaging to your self esteem. I will guide you in the direction you need to be, and tell you if you are very off track or doing something that will cause you harm or ridicule from others, but I will never personally attack or shame you for being YOU.
- You will love learning. We have been inciting a love of learning in you from the womb, and when you are born we will be reading books to you as a baby and using every learning opportunity we can find, whether that be through play, travel, or just new experiences. We will help you learn to think through situations and assertively ask questions when you need an answer. You will not be afraid of school or feel you can’t achieve or learn something, and we will make sure support systems are in place to ensure that.
- We will try our best to raise you without fear of the unknown. You will not be afraid or hesitant to try new things. We will be engaging you in new, different, and exciting things from the time that you are small to get you accustomed to enjoying every bit of this varied and exciting world, and help you adjust to change and embrace new opportunities as an adult.
- I will never hit you out of anger. Not when I’m PMSing, not when I’m tired, not when you push all of my buttons. If you say “I hate you,” I will respond with, “I love you.” You will be disciplined, but I will not react to you in physical anger. I promise that with my life.
- You will understand and accept diversity and differences in others, as God would. You will not hear stereotypical racial, religious or ethnic profiling or hate speak in our household. You will be exposed to differences at a young age so that you do not fear people who are different from you.
- You will know what it’s like to enjoy and appreciate the wonder and beauty of nature. You will not sit in front of a TV all day or on your iPad for hours. You will go outside. We will make forts in the trees, build snowmen, walk the trails at the park, make snow angels, ride bikes, stare at cloud shapes, go canoeing, run around in the sprinkler, collect rocks and bugs and leaves and toads, make sandcastles, tell stories around the bonfire. You will know the smell of grass and dirt and fresh air. You will problem solve and use your imagination. You will be active, and I promise -- we will have tons of fun.
- I am not going to be a pansy mom. If I say you cannot have the candy bar in the supermarket checkout line, you will not get the candy bar. Not if you have a store-wide screeching tantrum. Not if you beg me for an hour. Not if you crawl around on the floor and throw things and embarrass me. You will be disciplined for your behavior, but you will not get that candy bar. If I were to give it to you, I would be teaching you that tantrums get you what you want. Mom stubbornly sticks to her decisions, and you will learn that quick.
- I promise that even if I’m tired or not in a good mood, if you ask me to talk to you, watch you jump in the pool, look at the picture you drew, or otherwise, I will pay attention and be accessible to you. I will try my best to overcome these times to positively engage with you and be attentive, even when I’m not feeling like it.
- I will cultivate your self-esteem and sense of confidence from a very young age. You will know that you are beautiful and okay just the way you are. You are special and unique and God made you to offer something to this world. You will never feel less than worthy or not good enough. I will do this through my own words, messages and actions, positive programs for girls, youth groups, education, etc. This is going to help you immensely when it comes to your relationship with men in the future.
- I will always advocate for you and stand up for you. You will feel secure, safe, and loved at daycare, school, home, etc. I will be present at your school and communicating often with your teachers. If other adults, teachers, students, etc., are treating you badly, I will intervene on your behalf. Even if you have done something wrong, no child deserves to be treated badly. You will learn the consequences of your actions, but I will not tolerate bullying, ridicule, or just mean treatment toward you, no matter who it is coming from. And whoever it is certainly better watch out once your father gets to them.
- I will touch you in a loving way. I will hold you, and stroke your back when you cry, and give you lots and lots of hugs. When you are very young, I will tell you I love you often. You will get to the point where you are embarrassed of me and ask me to stop, but I promise I will never stop trying. You will always know how much you are loved.