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Dear Daughter, I’m Raising You to Be a Cherished Child

Photograph by Leah Campbell

My dear sweet girl,

I want to tell you about a conversation I recently had with one of my best friends, your Auntie Mags. We were talking about my priorities when it comes to you. You see, I try really hard to be the mom who listens, even when you’re throwing out angry words mid-tantrum or spouting off nonsense I don’t fully understand (which, at 4 years old, still happens a lot).

I try to teach you lessons and to handle discipline calmly, rationally and without my temper getting in the way. And, when I fail in some respect, as I sometimes do, I try to be the mom who owns that failure and apologizes to you.

Because it’s important to me for you to know that I know when I’ve screwed up.

In doing each of these things, there are lessons I hope you carry with you. I hope you learn that you always have at least one person who hears you, one person who loves you enough to listen, even when doing so isn’t always easy. I hope I’m modeling how to handle conflict in a healthy way. And I hope I’m teaching you to own your mistakes—to never be afraid of saying, “I’m sorry.”

The truth is, I want to teach you these lessons mostly because they are things I didn’t learn myself in childhood. And because they are things I believe are necessary for you to grow into a healthy and happy adult. Which is really what I want for you more than anything else in this world.

As I explained all this to your Auntie Mags, she stopped me and said, "You’re raising her to be a cherished child.”

I must have looked confused, because she then explained, “A cherished child is one who gets the stability and love they need at home, which allows them to develop the self-esteem necessary to go out into the world as adults prepared to become the best versions of themselves."

For a moment, I was speechless. A cherished child. That’s exactly what I’m raising you to be, little girl: cherished.

I prioritize stability for both myself and you, because I know firsthand how damaging not having that stability can be. Ensuring you feel secure and loved is something I truly believe to be my greatest responsibility. My job as a parent is to give you that foundation, to send you into this world as prepared as you can possibly be for what awaits you.

I’m careful about who I allow into our lives because I want you to witness healthy relationships. I want you to be surrounded by people who are capable of engaging in honest and open communication. I want you to know that’s what’s normal and that that’s what you deserve, in your friendships, your romantic life and even your relationship with me.

I go to therapy in order to work on my own damage, and to break my own cycles because I don’t want that damage leaking over into your childhood. I don’t want to keep making the same mistakes I’ve always made, and teaching you in the process that those mistakes are normal. I want to be better, stronger, happier and healthier for you—so that you can grow up to be the same.

But, as a cherished child, I hope you’ll know that even when you stumble, you will always have at least one ally in me.

While I know that even the adults I know who grew up as cherished children themselves still have issues (because we all do, sweet girl), I also know that I've spent most of my adult years learning how to communicate, how to handle confrontation and how to build healthy relationships while they entered adulthood with those skills already developed.

While they were pursuing relationships and career satisfaction, I was still kind of just figuring out how to be. Learning how to trust myself, how to trust others and how to set boundaries when lines were crossed. I want better for you.

More than anything, I want you to reach adulthood with that strong foundation already built for you.

I truly believe that little girls especially need that bedrock to achieve the best of what life has in store for them. You're already going to be heading into the world with cards stacked against you as a woman. But I want to do everything in my power to equip you with the tools that will allow you to face those challenges with strength. With confidence. And with the knowledge that, no matter what you may come up against in the real world, you will always have a soft place to land in me if you need it.

I want you to go into that world knowing your worth. Trusting your value. Seeking the best of what you can achieve because you know in your heart of hearts that you deserve it. Because your mom prioritized building you up and being that constant you could count on.

None of this means you will be without flaws or will never make mistakes, because of course you will. But, as a cherished child, I hope you’ll know that even when you stumble, you will always have at least one ally in me.

So, little girl, when you grow up and look back on your childhood, I hope you’ll see how unbelievably cherished you were. And while I'm sure I'll make a thousand mistakes along the way, I promise you will never have to question the love I have for you or the lengths I’m willing to go to provide a stable home for you.

You will always know you are safe, loved and wanted.

Because you are the most cherished part of my life. And always will be.



Image via Leslie Meadow Photography