My husband and I have begun to look at houses. In that process, the subject of children has played a central part. Can we raise kids here? Would we be able to stay here and grow as a family for a long time if necessary? Is this a safe neighborhood for kids? Is it on a cul de sac so that our kids can play in the driveway and not have as much risk of being hit by a car? These are all things that didn’t even cross our mind when we picked an apartment. I mean, they may have, but they were much less prominent factors in our choice. But there’s something different about a house. There’s something familial and comforting and special about a house, because a house, unlike an apartment (most of the time), is going to be your home. It’s much less temporary.
In discussing all of these considerations for what we want in a home, the subject took a turn to what we want for our kids, not just for the house they will live and grow in. We talked about some kids that we love, and some kids that we can’t stand, and how we grew up, and how our parents raised us, and this eventually led to things that we do or do not want our kids to be. I know that parents can’t control all of this, but they most certainly play a role. This train of thought eventually got me thinking about daughters, probably because I’m a woman and I know what its like to grow up as a girl. And so these are the things that I want my daughters to know as they grow older.
- You can like baseball, and lipstick. I want you, my daughters, to know that there’s no such thing as “too girly” or “too boyish” and that whatever your likes or dislikes or interests or passions, I will support those passions. You can love math and art. You can love creative writing and engineering. You can love rugby (which will probably scare me half to death at some point watching you play, but I will watch your games), and you can also love fashion design simultaneously. And that’s okay, even if other people call it weird. It’s fine. Because I want nothing less for you than for you to freely express your interests.
- You are strong. I want you, my daughters, to grow up knowing strong women so that you know you can be a strong woman. And I want to be a strong woman for you. The world most certainly needs strong men, but it also needs strong women. Whether those women are being strong while standing by their man or strong while being single, the world needs more of that because women are awesome and you have so much to contribute to the world around you. And don’t ever let the world tell you that you cannot be simultaneously strong and have a man that you support. For some reason, it is a common belief that if a woman marries then she “needs” her man. But you can be strong and single, or you can be strong and married. I know women from both categories and they are all amazing. Neither one of those options diminishes you in any way.
- You are also fragile. It is okay to show vulnerability. I also want you, my daughters, to understand that being strong means recognizing your own human fragility. You are absolutely not fragile because you are girls. You are fragile because you are human, and there are things in this world that hurt all of us, and cut deeply, and leave scars. Those hurts, even though they were painful, are something that it’s okay to feel. It’s okay to cry, and it’s okay to express emotion and it’s perfectly okay to have been hurt by things and to be open about it. It is a temptation to let the scars harden us, to let our hearts grow cold and uninviting because for our hearts to be open is to expose them to potential threats. But the truth is that to love at all, you must be vulnerable. And a life without love is not worth living.
- Apologize. There will be many times throughout your life when you are not the subject of hurt, but the inflicter. It’s part of being a person. You will hurt people. It is important to know this, and to be humble enough to apologize. Recognize when you’ve hurt someone, and recognize when you are in the wrong. It will happen. And sometimes an apology is all it takes. Other times, the damage is just not able to be repaired. And that hurts. But an apology may allow you to forgive yourself, and allow the other person to forgive you. Do not buy into the idea that anything and everything you do is “just who you are.” We are our choices, and it is never too late to choose to recognize your own fault and say you’re sorry.
- Forgive. In addition to forgiving yourself, it is necessary to forgive others. The inability to forgive will only ever result in more pain. The inability to forgive only brings bondage, but forgiveness brings freedom. Holding a grudge is like carrying a heavy load that someone else gave to you, perhaps unknowingly. It’s not necessary to keep carrying it. Forgiveness is dropping that burden and continuing to walk forward, and not looking back at that burden lying on the road behind you.
And lastly, I want you to know why any of these things that I pray for you are possible. Your strength is not your own. Your likes and dislikes and passions and desires reflect someone else’s. You are able to forgive and to love and to be anything at all for one reason. And it is because of Jesus. Because he created you, you are fearfully and wonderfully made (Ps. 139:14). All of who you are is wonderful. Because he is strong, you are strong, if he lives in you. You can do all things through Christ who gives you strength because in our weakness, he is strong (Phil. 4:13, 2 Cor. 12:9). You can forgive because he forgave us first (Col. 3:13). All of this is only through him. And so that is my prayer for you, that he would live in you, and that you would first and foremost be his daughters and not mine.
Alena Rivas is a college student from Tucson, Arizona. She has been married since August, 2013. She and her husband don’t have kids yet, but they hope to once she graduates! Alena writes about life, love, loss, and God. She works to incorporate her own experiences in such a way as to inspire others and encourage people to think about things in new ways. If you like her writing and want to keep up with it better or just want to have access to her awesome witticisms that may not always end up in blog posts, you can find her on Facebook (facebook.com/authoralenarivas), Twitter (@mrsalenaeous), and Google+ (Alena Rivas).