What I Want My Daughters to Know About Their Parents

IMG_16711. We don’t know what we are doing.

Neither of you came with an instruction manual – and even if you had, I wouldn’t have read it because that’s how I roll. (Daddy wouldn’t have read it either, but he would have kept the book at least.)

We’ve never had a 12-year old daughter before, and by the time we have a second go-around at raising a 12-year-old, we will be dealing with a completely different kid. We’re not perfect in our parenting, but we have accepted the challenge regardless.

We know that you will – as we have – someday look back at your life and find the flaws of our parenting to be blatant, and we hope that you will have the graciousness to understand that anything that we did, we did to keep you safe and healthy because that is our purpose as your parents. We make up every day as we go, and we do so with the best of intentions.

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2. We don’t want to be your friends.

Call us old-fashioned, but Daddy and I still believe in calling adults “Mr.” and “Ms.” and crafting a very distinct line between the roles of adult and child.

Later on in life, you’ll learn about what a conflict of interest is, but for now, please understand that we have to worry about what’s best for you in the long-run and that means not always satisfying your wants in the short-term. You always have our ears, our hearts, and our hugs – but we are never going to give into your whims or wants if doing so could put you in harm’s way.

We don’t care how bad it will make you look or what all the other kids are doing or how badly you want whatever it is. Pout, roll your eyes, and protest all you like: Your friends aren’t nearly as invested in you as we are. 

3. We know that “because I said so” is a cop-out . . . and that’s fine with us.

We brought you into this world out of love, and we would do anything for you (within reason – see above), but you know what? Sometimes, we are tired and we have other stresses that are eating at us and priorities that we can’t adjust. We spend our lives explaining our decisions to our bosses, our friends, our own parents, and countless others. And sometimes, we don’t want to have to justify to you why we make the decisions that we make.

So, just eat your fruit even when it has seeds and brush your teeth for at least two minutes and I’m sorry you can’t have sleepovers on school nights . . . because we said so. Look at it this way: You, too, will get to use this little gem should you decide to have kids.

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 4. We will gladly drop you off down the block so your friends don’t see us.

At 10 and 12, you are on the cusp of the time of life when your friends and their opinions will be the center of your universe . . . and we will be reduced to bothersome entities who embarrass you just by being ourselves. That’s ok. We know that we need to let you venture outside of the nest a bit and test out the world around you.

Pretty soon you will start to compare yourself to everyone around you in terms of appearance, possessions, status, talent, grades, and you will judge yourself far too harshly. There will be broken hearts and bruised feelings. These will be some of the worst and best times of your lives. You’ll never forget them; they will shape who you become.

And all through it, your Daddy and I will be parked squarely in your corner. We will cheer for you and support you. We will make sure that you have whatever you need. We will listen without judgement and tell you the truth when you have questions. We will keep you safe.

And although you may make us drop you off down the block so your friends don’t see us or duck hugs from us in public, we will still know that you love us. We will be your foundation always . . . a very uncool foundation, but a foundation nonetheless.

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5. We love you.

These are more than just words. You both know this verse as an especially meaningful one to me:

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7, New International Version).

Daddy and I may no longer share the same house, but we share a love for this family. In separating our homes, we have gained a deep sense of love.

You may feel sad sometimes and angry other times at us for making this decision, and you can lean on us when you hurt. We feel sad and angry at times, too. We strive, though, to show you that even in the worst of times, that patience, kindess, trust, and hope are still alive.

Daddy and I hope that you will see this love in the way we work together to forge a united front from separate spaces. We hope that you see kindness in the way that we treat each other, and patience in how we figure out how to lead separated lives that are still joint in so many ways. There’s a certain irony in the fact that our new situation requires so much reliance on living out this definition of love, but we are absolutely committed.

The second part of this verse begins with “Love never fails.” And so, then, begins this new and second part of our life as a family.

Alison
Ali wasn’t born in Texas, but got here as fast as she could. A native Chicagoan, Ali arrived on the scene in Fort Worth in 2008 kicking and screaming, but settled right into her cowboy boots and couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. Ali is proud to be Mama to sweet Alexis (2003) and little diva Clara (2005) who make every day an adventure with their wisecracking ways and endless antics. Between dance parties with her little ladies and her career as an instructional designer for a major retailer, you’ll often find Ali running along the Trinity River, at the ballpark cheering on the Texas Rangers, or in her kitchen whipping up new creations and snarky observations for her blog, Kitchenpants!

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