I want my children to learn how to treat others and how to expect others to treat them. I want them to know what “no” means and how to say it when they mean it. I want them to know that their words are important. Their opinions deserve listening to.
I want my children to learn to give respect when respect is given, but to be kind regardless. I want them to learn which relationships are worth keeping and which ones will only cause them damage. I want them to know their worth and to treat others with value.
I want my children to know how to stand up for themselves as well as for injustices they see others experience. I want my children to use their privilege to advocate for those with less. I want my children to feel comfortable with confrontation and know that their strong feelings can be channeled into something productive. I want my children to know that their emotions are valid, even if they are difficult for others to handle. I want my children to learn how to cope with their emotions and express them in healthy ways.
I want my children to feel grateful for what they have and always feel as though what they have is enough. I want my children to learn the value of hard work but also know that the work they do doesn’t define them. I want my children to learn to take what they need and give away the rest.
I want my children to feel comfortable to show the world who they really are. I want them to see that those who don’t accept them unconditionally aren’t worthy of their attention. I want my children to choose professions that excite them and challenge them to grow each day. I want them to develop hobbies and discover their identities based on their own likes and dislikes and not what they think others want them to be.
I want my children to know how to care for their bodies without feeling like they have to conform to societal expectations of beauty. I want my children to exercise because it gives them energy, keeps them healthy, or makes them strong. I want my children to eat healthy foods that nourish their bodies but also enjoy guilty pleasures just because they taste good.
I want my children to know how much I unconditionally love them. How much I fight for them every day to live a stable and happy life. I want my children to know that I will always be there for them, even when I’m not.
I don’t want my children to know that I went without so that they could have enough. I don’t want my children to know that I didn’t spend money on personal care so that they could have clothes and shoes that fit. I don’t want my children to feel as though I stayed with their father for as long as I did because I didn’t want them to have a “broken” family. I don’t want my children to feel any ounce of guilt for the sacrifices I made out of my love for them.
Knowing these things won’t help them grow, it won’t teach them anything other than putting others before themselves. I want my children to learn altruism, but not at their own expense. I want them to learn empathy and compassion, but not through guilt. I want them to learn respect, but not through fear. I want them to learn to take care of their bodies and health, but not because of shame.
I want my children to form a value system based on their life experiences. I also want my children’s values to develop based on my life lessons that I would rather they not experience.
I know that I can’t protect my children from the world. What I hope and want for them is to develop resilience so that they can learn from their negative life experiences and keep trying to make mistakes so they continue to grow.