Letter To My Future Teenage Daughters
Before our daughters were born my wife and I set up separate email accounts for both of them. I wrote pre-birth e-mails to them talking about how excited we were they were coming and the preparations we were going through in anticipation of their arrivals.
I thought I’d share this one. I wrote it to my future teenage daughters (who are 4 and 6 years old as I write this).
Hey girls! I guess you’re somewhere in you’re mid to late teens as you read this. But as I write this, if you can believe it, you’re 4 and 6 years old. Your mom and I set up these email accounts for you both so that we could write to you through the years and share our thoughts and experiences raising you. As you’ve probably figured out by now, it hasn’t been easy. We’ve had lots of good times but hit a few rough patches too. But that’s normal.
By now you’re well on your way to becoming women. And I’ve no doubt in my mind the kind of incredible women you’ll become. But there are a few things you’re going to have to know about being a woman. But first let me say that I can only teach you so much about being a woman. I’m not smart enough to teach you everything but your mom is. I’ll be the first to admit that she’s much smarter than I am on this topic (and many others).
Here are some things I’d really like you take to heart:
Women are often judged for using their voices. Don’t be discouraged from using yours.
Never let a man tell you you can’t do something. You can do anything he can. And in some cases you may do it better.
Women have been fighting for equality for a very long time. Remember that. You’ve earned the right to work beside a man at whatever capacity that may be and at the same rate of pay. But even though the fight for equality has been a long one, don’t lose site of the little things. Don’t get offended if a man holds the door open for you or gives up his seat to you on a bus. It’s called chivalry and despite what many believe, it’s NOT dead.
Reach for the clouds and dream the impossible dream. No goal is out of reach as long as you’re willing to work hard to get it.
Knowledge is power. Education breeds confidence and dignity. An educated woman is a powerful force.
Be comfortable in your sexuality but don’t use it to get what you want. ALWAYS lead by example and remember their are girls much younger than you who will look up to you. Be a strong role model.
Be aware of the messages you send by the way you dress. A pair a shorts cut up to your ass cheeks sends a very poor message about the type of girl you think you are.
Be mindful of the power of the Internet. It can be a great vehicle to move your brand or voice your opinion. It can also and easily, when used carelessly, be your demise. If you can’t show your mom or I the photo you’re about to post on the Internet then DON’T post it!! I promise you it will come back to haunt you in a way you can’t understand right now. Once it’s in cyberspace it’s there forever.
Learn about Star Wars and Star Trek. Even if you don’t like them at least know who the characters are. Trust me on this.
You will fail… a lot. But take each failure as a lesson on how NOT to do it the next time. You may fail again but eventually you will get it right and you’ll be a little bit smarter than you were before. Remember what I said earlier about knowledge?
Care about the opinions of others unless they’re opinions about you. Come to terms with the fact that not everyone is going to like you, despite how fantastic I think you are. Don’t lose sleep over this. People’s opinions are just opinions and don’t really carry much weight if you don’t let them.
Beauty comes in a lot of different forms. Don’t get into the habit of looking for it always in the same place. Don’t look for it in magazines or on the Internet. That’s not beauty. That’s Photoshop. Real beauty comes from within. This is something else that will be difficult to understand when you read this but you’ll get it one day soon.
Don’t believe everything you hear, read or see. There are ALWAYS three sides to a story. Their side, the other’s side and the truth. Seek the truth. Question the information that’s made available to you. Then make up you OWN mind.
Believe in yourself. You have absolutely NO idea how powerful you are. You matter!!
Find your voice. Whether it be furthering the fight for equality or bringing an end to the seal hunt in Canada. Stand for something and fall for nothing.
Know that I work a very dangerous job. Many people want to come home to a Ferrari in the garage or a swimming pool in the back yard. My goal everyday is simply to come home to be with you and your sister and mom.
Don’t get upset with people who hate police. Don’t choose to fight that battle. It’s one you’ll never win. Their voice is limited to a small group of people who have built their opinions on an even smaller group of police officers who make bad choices. Police are good people. NEVER forget that. What people who dislike police often overlook is the fact that any of these officers, including myself, would forfeit all of their hopes, their dreams, and their goals of going home to their families at the end of the day and die so that those they are sworn to protect can go on living.
A man will break your heart. DON’T let the same man do it twice.
A man will do virtually anything for sex. Be very mindful of this. He will tell you you’re beautiful. He will tell you no other woman has ever made him feel this way. He will tell you that you’ll always be together. Some may say it out of sincerity but trust in yourself to know when he’s full of shit.
Be a leader but also know who to follow. Friendships come and go. Surround yourself with people who empower and inspire you. Distance yourself from those who make you or others feel small or insignificant. Your ARE significant. But don’t be the centre of attention.
I promise not to worry too much about the boys you bring home. I know you’ll be a strong enough young woman to know an idiot when you see one.
Don’t judge people. Well, try not to judge people. This is a tough one because it’s woven into our DNA as human beings to be judgemental sometimes. Just do your best to remember that everyone is who they are for a reason. Everyone struggles with one thing or another. You don’t know what they’re battling. Remember that and be kind.
If there’s one thing that I’ve learned at my job is that a life can come to an end at ANY moment. No one knows for sure when they’ll die but they do know when they’ll live. Everyday is a gift. Live it as though it were your last.
Learn to be a good listener. There are sometimes great lessons to be learned in the stories of others.
If there ever comes a time, Heaven forbid, when I fail in my goal to come home at the end of a work day, just remember that I love you, your sister and mom more than anything in this world. I know that with or without me you’re going to turn out just fine.
Love Dad (written September 2015)