Hello from the mother of a young lady who is growing into a woman. I know you’ll want to take her on a date. You’ve no doubt looked at her smile and amazing hair and seen her as a girl you’d like to spend some time with. You’ve seen all the selfies she posts, so I know I don’t have to tell you how pretty she is on the outside. But there are some things you don’t know – things you can’t know from an online profile, or from the color of her hair.
And there are some things I pray you are doing today to prepare you for this wild and free spirit you’ll date one day.
And to my sweet daughter, if you read this too, have the courage to settle for nothing less than this. This man exists out there for you, and you’ll find him when the time is right.
When you look at my daughter, you’ll see a girls body. You’ll see curves and soft skin and hair that’s been meticulously fussed over. But underneath all the femininity, you share many of the same things. You are both humans. People, equals, neither stronger, or more worthy of love and respect than the other. Because she is softer than you, or sillier than you, or more gentle in appearance than you does not make you greater than her. It’s not enough that I tell her that. It’s not even enough that you believe me. You will have to show her everyday that you view her as your equal. If you don’t, her spirit will wither and she’ll fail to be the girl who caught your eye.
You might not know it yet, but you’ll be dating a girl who has survived many things. She’s survived switching schools many times. She’s survived cafeteria pecking orders and bullies and mean girls. She’s survived blended families and step-parents and the craziest family Christmas dinner schedule you’ve ever seen. She’s survived immigration and an international move. She survives along side a fierce mom who is ready to battle for her every day. This means she will survive if your relationship brings negativity into her life. She’ll go on without you if it all falls apart. But that doesn’t mean it won’t leave scars. That doesn’t mean your time together won’t be able to change her, and how she thinks of herself, and how she sees other boys.
Listen, you’ve gotta know that you will have the potential to make her believe she is less, when you and I both know she’s not. The words you use when you speak to her, and more importantly, about her, can be like rich soil, or like hard clay. If you speak highly of her to your friends and remind her of her inner and outer beauty, it is like planting seeds in rich soil. You’ll help her grow into a stunning woman who will stand beside you the way you’ve done for her. If you speak down to her, downplay her to your friends, and kiss and tell, it will be like trying to grow wheat in the clay. She won’t grow, (and neither will you). She won’t be nourished and in turn, she won’t be able to nourish you. I’ve spent years building up what it can take you only seconds to tear down. Please don’t.
When you kiss her, or touch her body, you will take more from her than you will give. If you take too much you will change her in a way that might not be survivable. When you touch her, you will experience something physical. She, however, will experience something emotional. Dinner and a movie are not payment for my daughters emotions. Don’t be greedy with your hands and your body.
She isn’t photoshopped. She is real. I hope you’ve been taught that what you see on screen and in print isn’t reality. I need for you to never compare my daughter to an unrealistic photo. I need for you to expect her to be healthy and happy and nothing more. I hope your parents have given you opportunities to feel good about who you are in your own skin. I hope they’ve celebrated your physical differences and taught you that we are not just skin and bones, but are defined instead by the choices we make.
I hope your parents have taught you how to have conversations. If you text my daughter more than you talk to her, she will not feel a connection to you. If you want to feel true happiness around any girl, you are going to have to put yourself in a place where you could be hurt. A place where she could turn you down, or tell you no. It’s only then that you can experience the joy that comes from the light in her eyes, or the smile on her face, and it’s only then that you can be there in person to hear her say ‘yes!’ It’s only in person that she can hold your hand or maybe even kiss you! She has been taught the incredible power of vulnerability and if you hide behind a screen she’ll turn you down. Muster the courage to ask her out in person, or at least by talking on the phone. And when she agrees to date you, knock on the door, show up, make the phone ring, and talk more than you text. When you make her laugh, you’ll want to hear it – it’s infectious! An ‘LOL’ just won’t do.
I hope you’ve been taught to respect your mother, and to never hit your sister, even when playing. How you’ve been taught to treat the most important women in your life will be the way you treat my daughter.
If you lie to her, or cheat on her she’ll survive. She’s tough like that. But it will forever change her ability to trust men. She’ll be suspicious, uncomfortable, and less able to be vulnerable and this will affect her happiness on a profound level until she heals. I hope you’ve been taught to view women as a borrowed gift, and not a possession.
Above all, I hope you are kind. It’s a simple word, but one that can cover a host of skills that firm relationships require. Kindness carries burdens, provides necessities and places others first. Kindness stands in the way of attack and always chooses to love. Kindness makes us smarter and more thoughtful. Kindness turns acquaintances into friends, and makes a house a home. Showing kindness will allow you to carry each other through the hardest of times and will bind you together in a way that will outlive all other aspects of your relationship. The most treasured memories you will have of one another will be times when you showed kindness to each other.
While you muster up the courage to ask her out, take comfort in knowing we are here teaching her the same things about you. That you are human, more than just your body or your hair, and that you deserve respect, honesty and kindness. Maybe you’ll be ‘the one’ for her… but even if you aren’t, we hope you each grow from your time together, taking great memories from one another, and leaving each other a little more loved and a little more ready for your next date.
I look forward to meeting you, interrogating you, and sharing a bit of our life with you. I look forward to watching my daughter laugh with you. I can’t wait to hear all about your date! And even though there’s a pretty good chance I’ll eventually hold her while she cries over you, I’m not going to hold that against you. Just remember – I’m trusting you with the most important thing in the world. My daughter. And a bit of my heart lives inside of her. Be good to us.