The air around us this election season is poison, and on the chance that our daughters are getting even a whiff of it, let’s be the kind of mothers and fathers that give them an oxygen mask. Let’s tell them the truth relentlessly, because our air is full of lies that threaten to enslave them. That’s not a fear tactic, that’s just reality. I have been enslaved by lies, and I want better for my daughters. I will not be afraid, but I can’t stick my head in the sand. I want my girls to know where I stand and to know who they are.
1. You are the boss of your body, not ANYONE else, no matter how powerful they may seem.
Even if their so-called “power” comes from their title, their wealth, their position, their intelligence, or their appearance, they do not have the right to your body. He might be your boss, your teacher, an upper classman or the captain of the football team. He might even be your crush. But NO ONE is the boss of your body except you. Don’t believe him when he says you are responsible for “meeting his needs”. You aren’t. Don’t believe him when he says no one else will love you. They will, and they do. Don’t believe him when he says you won’t get anywhere without giving out favors. You will. Women do, every day. And even if it means reaching your goals a little slower, it is BEYOND WORTH IT. Dear girl, YOU ARE THE BOSS. YOU CAN SAY NO.
2. If someone crosses a boundary, say so.
Speak up. Don’t be afraid. Tell me, tell a teacher, tell the principal, tell a co-worker, tell a friend, tell the authorities. Your dad and I have got your back, and we will ALWAYS be proud of you, no matter what you tell us. We are your cheerleaders, your biggest fans. You have plenty of amazing people on your team who are ready to stand up for you should you need that. You are not alone.
3. If someone is using language that makes you uncomfortable, or is disrespectful, speak up. No matter who is telling you to “lighten up.”
There are a whole lot of phrases like “boys will be boys” and “locker room talk” being thrown around right now. You need to know what is normative and expected of people of all genders, and one universal expectation is respect. When someone tells you that disrespectful speech is normal, ask yourself: “Does my dad talk that way?” Does it honor people or hurt people? Does it lift up or does it tear down? I expect you, my daughters to be respectful in your actions, words, and attitudes. You can expect the same from others. Period. And if others are not being respectful, you can say something. You are free to choose not to be around that person. And if it is talk that involves hurting others, tell someone.
4. Don’t believe people when they tell you that “ Because you’re a woman/girl, you have to…/you can’t…” It’s a trick.
I’ve been hearing that if you’re a woman, you MUST vote for a particular person (that particular person changes, depending on who you talk to). I’ve been told that because I’m a woman I MUST go to work and pursue a career, and I’ve also been told that because I’m a woman I CANNOT go to work and pursue a career. Neither of those are true.
You are a unique person with a unique path. You have a brain. You are SMART. Your opinion matters, and your voice deserves and needs to be heard. I have been amazed and proud at what comes out of your mouths when we present you with facts and ask what you think. It’s ok to think differently from the crowd. Listen to the still, small voice inside you when you have a decision to make. Yes, it’s wise to seek advice from those you respect, admire, and who love you. But you are very capable of using the brain God gave you. You’ve got this.
5. You are a child of God, and that—not anything else—defines you.
Your worth is not in your outward beauty, though you are so beautiful it scares me sometimes. Your worth is not in your brain, though you are incredibly smart. Your worth is not in your humor, though you make me laugh daily. You will only be truly free when you know your identity and walk in it. Your worth is in who you are at your very core, and that can never be taken from you.
You are loved beyond what you could ever imagine. Live your every day walking, talking, breathing in the knowledge and strength of that love.
You, dear girl, will change the world. In fact, you’ve already made it better, just by being in it.