This is the fourth installment of my 10 QUICK RULES FOR RAISING DAUGHTERS WHO WANT YOU IN THEIR LIVES AS KIDS, TEENAGERS and ADULTS. I began with Rule #1: Never criticize “the boyfriend.” Next came Rule #2: Never diminish a broken heart. Then Rule #3: Do not show up at Parents’ Night in slippers.
Here is the next rule in the series.
RULE# 4: GET YOUR DAUGHTER FAMILIAR WITH THE THREE IMPORTANT WORDS – HONEST, HONESTY and HONESTLY
Daughters hate honesty. But daughters love honesty too.
The line between the two worlds of hate/love of honesty, though, is probably the most indiscernible line on the face of this earth.
But it may help you to understand that all honesty questions will fall into one of these categories: BOYS (this has already been addressed in RULE #1); FASHION; MAKE-UP; HAIR; FRIENDS (also see RULE #1).
As a Mom of a daughter, you sometimes must stand ON the line itself while making a decision as to which way to move. Sometimes you may even inadvertently step onto the wrong side, but you will know immediately when and if that happens.
How, you say?
Perhaps one of these phrases: “I don’t care what you think!” or “You don’t know anything!” or the explosive, “You never tell me the truth about anything!”
This is why RULE #4 is so important to start very early in your mother/daughter relationship.
Let’s start with FASHION.
When your 3-year-old daughter shows up at breakfast in a pink tutu (with no underwear), a Red Sox shirt, Halloween socks, and Barbie slippers, fully and obviously ready for pre-school… you must never say, “You are NOT going to school looking like that.” Or the more recent daughter-raising philosophy, “You are expressing yourself as a woman. Good for you.”
Rather (and it takes practice when standing on that nearly invisible line), say something like, “Honey, you look beautiful. But you are going to have to change into school clothes. You HONESTLY cannot go to school in that outfit.”
She may scream. She may cry. But she will come to internalize and understand the meaning of the word HONESTY and trust your good judgement.
Flash forward ten years. This same girl (now with a total mind of her own) shows up at breakfast with in an ultra-mini (with underwear, thank God), three layers of ultra-soft T shirts (which means that a bra is not essential in this fashion statement), tanned legs (rather nicely done in a sun-kissed rub-on cream, but still 10 shades darker than anything else on her exposed body), and 4-inch wedge sandals.
It is winter in New England, by the way.
Again, very tricky. But since you have spent the last ten years being honest with her, you can quickly state, “Honey, you look beautiful. But I am going to be HONEST with you. I am familiar with the dress code at your school, so you are going to have to change into something more appropriate.”
She may scream. She may sulk. But you know that she has already internalized the meaning of the word HONEST, because you have been using it for years. She will trust that you are telling her the truth, even if it isn’t what she wants to hear at that moment.
Now, she may change her clothes at home and stuff the alternative outfit into her backpack for the change before homeroom, but that is a story for another blog.
This same principle applies to all incidents of MAKE-UP and HAIR as well… always allowing for yes, the necessary self-expression, but always being a Mom who is cognizant of teaching a daughter that there are, in fact, rules of behavior that often fall into rules of fashion, make-up, and hair.
As your daughter approaches teenagehood and adulthood, the greatest compliment you can receive from her is, “Well, we may not agree on all issues or ideas, but I know that you will always be HONEST with me.”
Just remember that practice-makes-perfect… HONESTLY! And she will love you for it.