With the birth of my first child, a girl, just weeks away, I’m wondering what her personality will be like. Will she be shy or outgoing? Quiet like her father or talkative like her mother? I also think of all the lessons I’d like to teach her, ones that I was taught by my parents and ones I learned just by going through 36 years of life. There are many things she will learn through her own life experiences, but I hope to instill the following in her:
1. Believe in yourself. Trust your instincts when you are feeling something. Tell yourself you can do it, even when you are nervous or scared. Only you can hold yourself back.
2. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. You can do anything you put your mind to. If you want to be a doctor, a veterinarian, a dancer or an artist, put your heart into it and don’t let anyone stop you from making your dreams come true.
3. Looks are nice but not what counts. I am your mom and will always think you are the most beautiful girl. If others should see your outward beauty too, remember, it is what’s on the inside that counts. Your looks may change from year to year but who you are and how you treat others is what makes you special.
4. Don’t judge others by the way they look. Children can be cruel and make snap judgments about others because of how they dress, how they look or because of a special need. Go beyond the superficial. Learn about a person’s likes, interests and dreams. Find out what is inside a person’s heart before you decide how you feel about them.
5. Be kind. You might not always like everyone, but you should always be kind to others. Someone you were unkind to one day may be your close friend in years to come. Always treat others with respect. If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it. Try to imagine how it would feel if someone said those same words to you.
6. Do for others in need. There will always be people less fortunate than you. Help others when you can. Put other people’s needs before your own when possible. Don’t be selfish. Be a good friend, family member and part of your community. You will always feel better about yourself when you are.
7. Learn to be okay being alone. To quote a poster that hung in my old sleep-away camp, “Be Your Own Best Friend.” While it is nice to be around others, you live with yourself everyday. Find activities and hobbies you like doing on your own. Don’t be afraid to be with your own thoughts and to reflect. You can escape other people, but you can’t take a vacation from yourself.
8. Always do what you feel is right. Even when others around you may have a different opinion, always do what you feel is the right thing. Don’t be a follower when you are sure of the right thing to do.
9. Be honest. Tell the truth, even if you think you might be in trouble or that you will disappoint someone. The truth always comes out and living with the guilt of being untrue is always harder than telling the truth.
10. Strive to be better. Be the best YOU can be. I’m not saying you have to be the best at something, but try your hardest. You will always be a success when you do your best.