Advice for daughters from mothers

32 Tips for My Daughter Before She Leaves Home

My daughter, Fiona, leaves for school this week. I’m happy and excited for her—and also broken up about it. Although it was always the plan for our kids to grow up and move away, this week, like so many parents who have a child going off to school, I’m consumed by grief.*

I’ve done my best to teach my kids everything I know about finding happiness and fulfillment in life, but who knows when they are really listening? Just in case she missed something, here is a list of the principles I hope Fiona takes with her to school.

GGSC Senior Fellow Christine Carter, Ph.D., is the author of the new book The Sweet Spot.

1. Make kindness the central theme of your life. Look for opportunities to show compassion and generosity. Don’t be tricked into thinking that happiness will come from getting what you want; happiness comes from giving, not getting. When you’re feeling down, help someone else.

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2.Tolerate discomfort.  Have the difficult conversations. Let yourself truly notice when other people are suffering. Do the right thing even when the right thing is hard. You are strong enough.

3. Live with total integrity. Be transparent, honest, and authentic. Do not ever waiver from this; white lies and false smiles quickly snowball into a life lived out of alignment. It is better to be yourself and risk having people not like you than to suffer the stress and tension that comes from pretending to be someone you’re not, or professing to like something that you don’t. I promise you: Pretending will rob you of joy.

4. Let go of what other people think of you. Another person’s opinion of you is their business, not yours. Great leaders are often criticized. Especially ignore critics who seem delighted when you stumble.

5. Invite constructive criticism from the people who want the best for you. Other people offer us a different view; we need their broader perspective to grow and improve.

6. Accept that well-meaning and loving people will sometimes give you bad advice. You’ll know when something isn’t right for you because you’ll feel it in your body. Our unconscious mind is our best source of intelligence, but it communicates through intuition and bodily sensations, not words. Learn how to read your “body compass.”

7. Know the difference between legitimate and not-helpful fear. Legitimate fear, like terror in the presence of a dangerous person, makes us want to get the heck out of whatever situation we are in. When you feel legitimate fear, run like the wind. Not-helpful fear, on the other hand, makes us hesitate rather than bolt. (Like when we are afraid of looking stupid and so don’t ask an important question. ) Ignore your hesitation. As Maria Shriver wrote in And One More Thing Before You Go, often “anxiety is a glimpse of your own daring ... Whatever you’re afraid of—that is the very thing you should try to do.”

8. Your relationships with your family and closest friends are always more important than any achievement. Prioritize accordingly.

9. When you hurt someone, apologize. Even if you didn’t intend to hurt that person, or you think they are over-reacting.

10. Look people in the eye. Chat with people in elevators and in line at the store. Look up. Smile.

11. Develop a strong handshake. Try to connect with people in your first interaction, to make them feel your delight in them (even if you are scared to death).

12. Hug people liberally. Even people you’ve just met. People are stressed. They need more love. Don’t withhold it.

13. Don’t compare yourself to others. When we get caught in a web of thinking that we are better or worse than others, we usually end up depressed, anxious, and insecure. If you notice that you are comparing yourself to others, try asking yourself these questions: What do I appreciate about those people? How can I connect with or learn from them? How can I add value to their lives?

14. Don’t wear uncomfortable shoes, even if everyone else is doing it. High heels are the cigarettes of the future; they are bad for your health and they get you in the habit of ignoring pain in order to look good to others, which is never a good idea.

Christine's daughter Fiona giving her 8th grade commencement talk. "She gave better advice to her friends at graduation than I provide in this article," says Christine.

15. Develop good habits. You won’t need so much willpower that way.

16. Let yourself feel what you feel. When we feel stressed out (or sad, or disappointed), we live in a world that offers many ways to numb those negative feelings—to not really feel them. But to honestly feel the positive things in life—to truly feel love, or joy, or profound gratitude—we must also let ourselves feel fear, and grief, and frustration. Your emotions are how your heart talks to you, how it tells you what choices to make. Practice listening to your heart. This is the way to know who you are and what you want.

17. Train your brain to see the positive in your life by keeping a gratitude journal.

18. Don’t believe everything you think. If a thought is stressing you out, it is probably untrue.

19. If you feel overwhelmed, unplug. Create times and places in your life every single day where you are free from technology.

20. Make your bed, and keep your room clean. The state of your bed is the state of your head. The outside tends to match the inside.

21. Know when and how to say “no.” That way, you’ll feel more joy when you say “yes.”

22. Chase meaning, not happiness. What purpose or value does your work and your passion have for other people? If you don’t know, find out.

23. Focus on the journey, not the achievement. Instead of wishing you were somewhere else, or saving your happiness for when you get where you are going, enjoy where you are. Right now. You are always already right where you need to be.

24. Remember that talents are actually skills. “Talent” comes from hard work, passion, and great coaching or teaching.

25. Give people the benefit of the doubt. When someone does something hurtful or annoying, consider the idea that it isn’t about you. Practice compassion and empathy by putting yourself in the shoes of others.

26. Make mistakes. In the classroom, in your relationships, on the athletic field, at parties, at home. We learn stuff from our mistakes that we couldn’t learn any other way.

27. When you make a mistake, don’t beat yourself up about it.  Self-criticism makes us depressed, and much more likely to make the same mistake again. Instead, remind yourself that mistakes make us human. Feel compassion for your suffering. It can feel really awful to make a mistake. It’s okay to feel awful—to feel frustrated, embarrassed, guilty, disappointed, etc. You can handle these feelings.

28. Repair your mistakes. Use them to become a better person.

29. Love what is. Wishing to be older or younger, wanting other people to be different than they are, wanting it to be sunny when it is raining—this is fighting with reality, and it is a futile and frustrating pastime.

30. If you are tired, rest. Working 24/7 will get you nowhere fast. (Trust me, I’ve tried this.)

31. Remind yourself that more is not necessarily better. Do this especially if you are worried that you won’t have enough of something, if you feel like you don’t have as much as others, or if you are feeling ungenerous with your belongings or your time. Many of your peers will spend their time striving for more: more money, more likes on Instagram, more clothes, more popular or important friends, more prestigious schools. But as they accumulate more, odds are, they’ll just want more! True abundance is not a quantity of something; it is a quality of life, a feeling of sufficiency. When we step back from the idea that more might be better, often we see that we have enough to share.

32. Surround yourself with people and situations that make you laugh uncontrollably. Laughter is heaven on earth.

* Fiona is going to boarding school for 9th grade. This is at once terrible and wonderful. Even though I went to the high school she’ll be attending (The Thacher School), and I’ve served on its board for nine years, I’m really having some hesitations about all this going away business. But then I remember: I had an incredible experience at Thacher that I would never dream of depriving Fiona of, especially just to satisfy my own selfish desire to keep her home. Still.

Advice for a Daughter From Her Mom

I always wanted to have daughters—and I got them. I love every minute of it, from the tea parties and pedicures to what we affectionately (mostly) call the "hair wars" in our house. But I'd be lying if I said it was easy. From a very young age our girls are targeted with messed-up media messages (think "Thin is beautiful, and beautiful is everything, and if you want to be happy, you needthese shoes!") and exposed to all manner of temptations, online and otherwise. As a parent who can shape who they'll become, there are many life lessons that I'd want to teach any child of mine. But there is also some specific advice for daughters. Here are 20 girl-centric things I want them to know. 

1. Learn the word NO. Sure, I don’t like it one bit when you say it to me, but in the big, scary world out there you will be faced with endless tough choices. From boys to beers to inappropriate Instagram photos, potential trouble will lurk everywhere you go. You know that little voice you have inside, the one that tells you something doesn't feel right? Listen to it. Respect it. And most importantly, use it to say NO. It won't be easy a lot of the time, but I assure you, you’ll almost always be glad you did.

2. Spend more time worrying about how beautiful you are inside than outside. It's fine to take pride in your appearance and want to be pretty. But if how you look is all you care about, you'll pay for it down the road. Yes, you are beautiful—magnificently, achingly so—but never forget that you didn't do anything to create or even deserve that. True beauty comes from being kind and thoughtful and compassionate. If you're ugly on the inside, you're ugly. Period. 

3. Stuff won't make you happy. Oh, in the moment—when you're pining for that headband/skateboard/Fijit Friend/designer purse—you will truly, madly, passionately believe that they will. But things break. We lose them. They run out. They go out of style. They become uncool (the worst!). Happiness comes from appreciating the things you do have, not acquiring more. 

4. Some girls are mean girls. Be extremely careful when you choose your friends. At the risk of throwing our entire gender under the bus, girls can be nasty and petty and jealous and cruel. Some of them will lie to you or pretend to be your friend or stab you in the back, and it will hurt like hell every single time. If you're totally unprepared for it, it will crush you even more. 

5. Girlfriends will save your life. Yes, girls can be awful, so when you find a loyal, true friend, hold onto her for dear life, and do your best to be loyal and true right back. Boys will come and go, but a good girlfriend will be your steady through the peaks, the valleys and everything in between. 

6. Don't judge people (but know that you will be judged). It's a catch-22, kid: I've taught you not to assume things about people simply by the way they look or the clothes they wear; unfortunately the rest of the world won't always do the same. Remember that when you want to bare your belly or pierce your tongue or dye your hair blue. (This may not matter much to you now, but wait until you're trying to get a job or meeting your first boyfriend's—or girlfriend's—parents.) 

7. Boobs are overrated. Until you have them, you're going to want them. When you get them, you'll obsess about them. Are they big enough? Too big? Is one bigger than the other? (Yes, it probably is. Every breast on the planet is different, even the two sharing the same bra. Accept it and get over it.) No matter how you feel about your boobs, remember that they're not called "private parts" for nothing.So do yourself (and me!) a favor and cover them up. Nothing you could ever do screams I NEED ATTENTION like putting your perky young rack on display.  

8. Get to know your grandma. Sure you love your granny, but have you taken time to really talk to her? Grandma's had a lifetime of experience being a woman, and it would be a waste to not tap into her wisdom. Ask her about what it was like growing up, the first boy she liked, how she knew what she wanted to be when she grew up. It's sad but true: She won't be around forever, so make sure you get to know her while you still can.

9. High school is not real life. It feels like there's so much at stake, with cool girls you're desperate to befriend and boys you're crushing on so hard you can't imagine ever meeting anyone better. But trust me: Life gets so much bigger when you go to college and then out into the world. And what someone is like in high school is little indication of who they become as an adult. The popular kids? They might peak as a teenager while some of the kids who don't fit in go on to achieve great things. It's impossible to have that perspective when you're in it, but please trust me and believe these words when it seems like your world is ending.  

10. Love yourself first. Not everyone is going to like you and that's okay. Women often are obsessed with getting approval from everyone, but here's the thing: It's impossible to please everyone. The only person who absolutely must like you is, well, you. As long as you can look at the chick in the mirror and know you're making the decisions that are right for her, even if they displease someone else, you can't go wrong.

11. It's okay to wait. The other kids are rounding the bases, while you're not even sure what the bases are. That feeling of overwhelmed discomfort with the whole thing is telling you you're not ready. You'll get there someday, and there's no reason to rush. Hardly anyone ever regrets taking things slow, while a lot of girls do have remorse over rushing. 

12. Sex should be fun. You shouldn't be in any rush to have sex, but when you do feel totally ready to do the deed, remember it's supposed to be fun—really fun. If your partner doesn't care about making you feel good, both emotionally and physically, or you don't know enough about your own body to lead him in the right direction, see #11.

13. Not every problem is the end of the world. Remember that book I used to read you, The Boy Who Cried Wolf? That lesson applies to pretty much everything you do for the rest of your life. If every dilemma or disappointment you face is a 10 on the Drama Scale, you won't get much sympathy from me (or anyone else). It will take you a while to develop full-fledged perspective; in the interim, play the "will this matter in five minutes/days/years?" game before you freak out about something that feels major in the moment. 

14. Don't compare yourself to others. You may not want to hear this, but there will always be someone prettier, richer and more popular or talented or athletic or artistic than you are. Don't assume her life is better or happier than yours because of it. Life isn't a competition, it's a journey. You're here to work on being the best you can be. 

15. It's only hair. Seriously. You will curl it and straighten it and pull it back and pin it up. You'll wish it were thicker or longer or wavier or straighter. You'll braid it and twist it and color it (please, not pink). You'll spend untold hours counting your split ends. And for what? It's hair. Life is too precious to waste so much time on the pursuit of mane perfection. Put a baseball cap on it, and go out and have some fun. 

16. Being smart is cool. Sometimes you may feel as if you have to hide that you're smart. Listen closely to me when I tell you: You don't. Don't ever dumb yourself down because you think it'll make you seem cooler or to try to impress a guy. There may be a window of time when your peers genuinely think that brains are for dorks, but it's a very small window, I promise. If you choose to use your brain, I promise you those dingbats will be drooling over how cool and successful you are.  

17. Don't lose yourself in a guy. The goal of dating is to find a guy you like just as he is and who likes you just as you are. Don't pretend to love wind-surfing or scary movies just because he does, or act like you don't love the clarinet because he thinks it's lame. There are plenty of boys out there who will love and admire every last quirky thing about you. Hold out for one of them. 

18. Speak up. I'm not talking about complaining or boasting or trying to get your way... but if you have an opinion or you aren't being treated fairly or you see something happening that you know isn't okay, it's your right and your obligation to open your mouth. You may annoy some people when you do or even impress them. Either way, it's okay. The more often you stand your ground, the sooner it will become second nature.

19. You have power over boys. At some point, it will hit you: You are the reason he stumbles over his words and gets sweaty palms. It's a pretty heady feeling to realize you're in possession of feminine wiles, isn't it? But with great power comes great responsibility, so make sure you are always gentle and never cruel. After all, boys can have their hearts broken, too.

20. You'll hate me some days, but I'll always love you. I hope you know enough not to say it to my face, but I accept the fact that there will be moments you feel like you detest me. All daughters think their mothers just don't/couldn't possibly/will never ever get it at some point. But even if you hate me—even if you tell me so—I am still there for you. If you need a ride home from a crazy party, advice on a guy problem or just a good cry, I'm your girl.

Jenna McCarthy is an internationally published writer, TED speaker and the author of five books including If It Was Easy They'd Call the Whole Damn Thing a Honeymoon: Living with and Loving the TV-Addicted, Sex-Obsessed, Not-so-handy Man You Married (Berkley Books, 2011). Find her at

A version of this story originally appeared on iVillage.

20 best advice for a daughter that a mother can give

Every mother wants to give her child the very best in our lives. And this is not only a prestigious education, fashionable clothes, etc. Sometimes wise advice from a mother to her daughter is worth much more than any gold jewelry or a luxury car.

Women's wisdom is passed down from generation to generation, from grandmothers to mothers, from mothers to daughters. Time passes, and sometimes the postulates of female happiness are transformed and take on slightly new forms. But the fact that they are aimed to protect their daughter from potential mistakes - this certainly does not change.

One wise woman prepared a big postcard for her daughter's birthday, on which she wrote on the reverse side a huge list of advice from a wise mother for her beloved daughter, calling them the greatest treasure that a mother can give her daughter. Notagram selected the 20 most valuable tips that were written by a loving mother at the behest of the mind and heart.

The 20 Best Advice a Mother Can Give to a Daughter

  1. If you don't truly love yourself, no one will love you.
  2. Bruises, resentment and envy at school do not leave such wounds as adulthood. Cry young, fight grown up.
  3. If there is a man in your life whom you cannot love, but you can be friends with him like children, we sincerely value him, and do not tell anyone about him. You will be useful to each other in the most difficult moments.
  4. Do not get attached to things and money, you can lose them all in one minute.
  5. Know that all your friends are judging you behind your back. Don't think about it. Just be able to turn it off in your head like a radio.
  6. If you know what to say, say it. You do not know - be silent or smile.
  7. The real problem in your life is the end of the world. Only then will you not have time to change something.
  8. Don't let love alone be the pinnacle of your relationship with your loved one.
  9. Even when you can't, find the strength to say no.
  10. Never run after men. A real man is a wolf hunter. You do not need to associate your life with "rabbits".
  11. Any disputes in the family should be turned into rational attempts to change your family for the better. No need to turn the dispute into scandals or enmity.
  12. If there is not a single book in the house of your chosen one's parents, forget about him.
  13. Any mistakes, even the most offensive and annoying ones, are an invaluable experience that only you can get.
  14. When your head stops working, trust your intuition. She rarely fails.
  15. Dance while you are young. When you are over thirty - it looks much worse than you now think.
  16. Always work and save for a rainy day. This will give you independence from a man and confidence in any future.
  17. Raise your daughter so that she can tell you about everything in the world.
  18. Beauty is the ability to hide your flaws.
  19. Learn to give compliments, sometimes words open the hardest locks and hardest doors in our world.
  20. The person who will never betray you and will always love you is your mother. Remember this.

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Almost forgot, more interesting

how to raise a daughter who grows up without a father - Teacher's newspaper

First of all, decide for yourself: do you think in the future to arrange your personal life, that is, to remarry? After all, very often single (divorced) women get hung up, lock on to their daughters, build their communication with them according to the principle “we feel good together, we don’t need anyone.” And of course, with such a model of relations, the feedback law works. The daughter begins to perceive her mother from a purely egoistic position, as an attachment to herself, as her own property. And if the mother suddenly meets someone or tries, for example, to go to the theater (without her daughter, of course) - scandals, tears: after all, according to the child, the mother has no right to privacy! Therefore, from time to time, when hammering a nail into a wall, it is worth complaining that a man would have done it better; read fairy tales ending with a happy wedding... There are many cases when daughters really helped their mothers get married or, on the contrary, warned against reckless marriage - after all, children are sometimes much more observant than adults.

At the same time, when talking about the advantages of having a man in the house, you should not go too far, suggesting to your daughter that he is needed only for hard work, because these truths, perceived in childhood, are preserved for life, and it is on the basis of their daughter that build your relationship with future fans. And even if you hate the entire male half of the human race, try, if, of course, you don’t want to spoil your daughter’s future family life so that she doesn’t hear maxims like “they are all goats and idiots, they are all incapable of anything, all of them from we only need one thing” not only from you, but also from your brave “divorced” friends. I repeat, a person learns a model of behavior in general and a model of relations with the opposite sex in particular in childhood, while copying the behavior of parents, their friends, distant or close relatives, that is, the society in which he stays more or less permanently.
If you have firmly decided to put an end to yourself and devote your life entirely to raising your daughter (generally, you shouldn’t do this, I’ll explain why below) - be doubly careful. Firstly, because such a “crossover” may well form a stable consumer position in a child: my mother lives for me, everyone else should behave the same way; if they don't act like that, they're all jerks. Over time, the position “they are all jerks” will pass to any society in which the girl will be. Of course, I draw a simplified socio-psychological model of the formation of a behavior stereotype, but even if such psychological egoism is formed in a milder form, for example: “ours” - those who give something to a person, who treat him well, and everyone else - “strangers”, and you can not reckon with them - it will not be easy for such a person to live. Secondly, oddly enough, another extreme is possible. If the daughter is a quiet, affectionate, introverted, romantic child, she may well form a persistent servile complex (desire to please, please), especially if she often hears from her mother: I, they say, live only for you, you are my light in the window, I will die without you. Such children, even as adults, continue to “repay debts,” often to the detriment of their personal lives. The clinical case is an elderly mother and daughter, a thirty-forty-year-old spinster who reports for every half hour spent away from home.
Both the first and second options are the result of what psychologists call overprotection. Of course, a child needs to be taken care of, you need to communicate with him, play with him, but extremes are dangerous. Tell your child more often about what you do outside the home, about your “production successes”. By the way, ideally, try to interest your daughter in your work - then she will be proud of her mother, who is doing an important and necessary thing.
And you should not devote “all of yourself” to a child because in 10-20 years it is fraught with severe moral trauma for you. In my practice, there was a case when a 48-year-old woman decided to commit suicide after her 25-year-old daughter got married and had a baby. The fact is that at one time, spitting on her personal life, career, friends and girlfriends, Svetlana M. completely "went into a child." To her credit, it must be said that she raised her daughter perfectly. But when she created her own family, it suddenly seemed to Svetlana that her daughter no longer needed her, as before. Perhaps it was so - the children grow up, their dependence on their parents becomes less, and the moment comes when such a mother suddenly sees that the child can easily do without her. And now she seems to have no reason to live - no family, no work, no friends, no hobbies. Life has passed ... So, devoting your life to one "great goal" to the detriment of yourself, probably, is still not worth it.

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