The post has gone viral because it’s what every girl needs to hear
When parents are teaching their kids manners, three things they focus on are knowing when to say “please,” “thank you,” and “I’m sorry.” There’s a danger, however, (and this is especially true with girls) in teaching kids to apologize so much that they end up apologizing for who they are.
One mom has written an open letter to her daughter describing different ways she hopes she’ll show she has confidence in herself, and it’s one all parents need to read.
Writer Toni Hammer took to her Facebook page with an open letter that tells her kindergarten-age daughter 13 different things she hopes she will never do just to make other people happy:
Some of the items on Hammer’s list are things that most children would benefit from hearing. For example, she writes, “Don’t say ‘sorry to be such a pain.’ You’re not a pain. You’re a person with thoughts and feelings who deserves respect.” That’s one that hurts our hearts because it’s so easy to get frustrated when your child keeps asking you for things. We want to teach them how to be independent without implying that they should never ask for help, and to be careful about the words they use to describe themselves because the words they pick now can turn into how they identify themselves later on.
Hammer also has advice for her daughter that has special meaning for those of us who are the parents of young girls. She writes, “Don’t smile because someone told you to; Don’t keep your hair long to make someone else happy; Don’t wear a dress if you don’t want to.” Yes yes and yes. That first one is especially poignant, given how often adult women are criticized for “looking angry” when all they’re doing is not grinning like an idiot while getting their muffler fixed.
There is still, even today, a lot of pressure for women to look and act a certain way in order to be considered “acceptable.” “So often,” Hammer tells Scary Mommy, “in the name of being polite or feminine we turn ourselves into doormats and I think a lot of us need to remember that we deserve to be seen and heard and loved just how we are.”
Which brings us to one of the most important items on the list: “Don’t make up reasons as to why you can’t go out with a guy you don’t wanna go out with. You don’t owe anyone an explanation. A simple ‘no thanks’ should be acceptable.” We need to teach our daughters as soon as we can that they never owe someone something for liking them. They should know that they’re lovable and that being liked by others is not something they need to be grateful for.
Not all parents agree with Hammer’s list, of course. There are some in the comments who argue that this is teaching your child to be rude and that it’s okay to say “no” to anything if it’s not something you want to do. “Good luck saying NO to the police officer just because you don’t want to do that thing,” wrote one. Teaching our children to stand up for themselves doesn’t make them monsters, it just highlights how many people would prefer not to hear them.
Hammer has done a wonderful job putting into words the different ways we want our children to love and respect themselves. “I want my daughter to be prepared with love and truth and confidence when the time comes so she learns to love who she is and be who she is at an early age,” she tells us. We so often have to tell our kids to blindly comply when they’re young — it’s important for them to know that there are times when they can (and should) listen to themselves instead.
As Hammer writes: “Don’t apologize for being who you are. Be brave and bold and beautiful. Be unapologetically you.”