Advice from a Mom to Her Daughter

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    When I found out I was having a baby girl I was terrified - would I be capable of raising an independent, thoughtful, strong woman? I started to gather my thoughts and those of my mother, grandmothers, and women around the world in an effort to arm her with an updated take on age-old wisdom. Of all the advice, so much comes back to three core principles: be thoughtful, be kind, and think for yourself. Here are some of my favorites.
  • Be Generous 2 of 25
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    1. Be Generous.

    With your time, your money, your heart. If, on my best day, there was a single lesson I could hope to impart to you, this would be it.
  • Root for other people 3 of 25
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    3. Root for other people.

    We all tend to envy other people's successes. It's not intentional; somewhere in our DNA it seems to be programmed that for every success for someone else, there is one less success for us. For every book published, there is one less book we will publish; for every baby had, there is one less baby for us to have. Of course, that is illogical. Fight off those thoughts; there is an unlimited amount of potential for everyone in this universe. Championing others is kind, and even more, it's a display of optimism that will seep into you and color your view of this life.
  • You don’t have to pretend you know something if you don’t 4 of 25
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    3. You don't have to pretend you know something if you don't.

    It's okay to just say, "I don't know." You can't know everything!
  • You are the wellspring of your own hope 5 of 25
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    4. You are the wellspring of your own hope.

    No one (besides your mother) will be more invested in your emotional well-being than they are in their own. Joy is not something gifted to you by other people; it's an outlook on the world that you have to cultivate independent of friends and lovers. Daughter, if I could give it to you, I would, a million times over, but the truth is that you are singularly responsible for your own happiness.
  • Live alone for a period of time 6 of 25
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    5. Live alone for a period of time.



    I love living with you and your father; I also cherish the years I spent living alone. You shouldn't go from being someone's daughter to someone's wife to someone's mother without first being someone yourself. Living alone will allow you to discover who you are when no one is watching, what you need to get through a day, and ultimately that you are a capable, independent woman.

  • If you marry your first love you will miss out on the exquisite pain of a broken heart 7 of 25
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    6. If you marry your first love you will miss out on the exquisite pain of a broken heart.



    Don't settle. Risk being alone in order to find what you are truly looking for.

  • Talk to strangers 8 of 25
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    7. Talk to strangers.

    Teaching you to fear strangers would be cynical. The generosity of unknown people will ease your burden on many occasions. Instead, I want you to learn to gauge people's intentions by listening to your gut instincts and recognizing subtle cues. Confidence in this skill will allow you to avoid the aberrant persons you encounter and embrace something much more common - the kindness of strangers.
  • Be where you are 9 of 25
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    8. Be where you are.

    Try not to think about where you need to go next or wherever you just came from. This is more difficult than it sounds, but work at it. It's important for your head to be present in the place where your body is.
  • Unless you’re playing a game, there’s no point in keeping score 10 of 25
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    9. Unless you're playing a game, there's no point in keeping score.

    Running a tally of who gets what in life will only frustrate you and annoy everyone else. It serves no purpose; the way life's benefits and hindrances are doled out will never make any sense.
  • Ensure that the “bad” things you do are the result of your own choices 11 of 25
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    10. Ensure that the "bad" things you do are the result of your own choices.

    You are doubtlessly going to engage in some unhealthy, unwise or otherwise questionable behavior somewhere along the line; this is part of learning your limits and establishing your comfort zone. Please have enough self-awareness to at least make the choice to participate, rather than floating through life getting swept up in whatever trouble comes your way.
  • If you test people, they may fail 12 of 25
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    11. If you test people, they may fail.

    Friendship, love, and family don't hinge on any single success or failure; you would do yourself a disservice to administer litmus tests to things as labyrinthine as love and affection.
  • Acknowledge inequity 13 of 25
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    12. Acknowledge inequity.

    Thomas Jefferson wrote in The Declaration of Independence "All men are created equal." Today, we interpret "men" to mean "people," but at that time "men" was not intended to be inclusive of women, or even of men who were not white. Inequity existed 200 years ago, and it still exists today. Don't let anyone tell you that everyone gets a fair shot. Be sympathetic to the disadvantaged and work hard to include them.
  • Create a sense of family wherever you are 14 of 25
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    13.Create a sense of family wherever you are.

    Find people to love and love them unconditionally.
  • Try not to wait eagerly for people to finish their stories just so you can tell your own versions that more directly involve you 15 of 25
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    14. Try not to wait eagerly for people to finish their stories just so you can tell your own versions that more directly involve you.

    You'll get your chance to speak — but first, listen.
  • Pursue more than just the things you are good at 16 of 25
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    15. Pursue more than just the things you are good at.

    You will be told at a young age what your talents are. Enjoy the compliments, but don't accept them at face value. You don't want to walk a narrow path; attempt things you aren't comfortable with and uncover skills or proclivities you didn't know you possessed.
  • Everyone is a hypocrite 17 of 25
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    16. Everyone is a hypocrite.

    Hypocrisy is not the blanket failure it's made out to be; we all act in ways that conflict with the image we want to reflect or the values we want to embody. Try not to pigeonhole people with expectations; be forgiving of this inconsistency, both in yourself and in others.
  • You will get good at anything you practice 18 of 25
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    17. You will get good at anything you practice.

    Everything gets easier the more you do it, good or bad, so choose your habits wisely.
  • If you don’t have the money to buy an extravagant gift for someone special, bake! 19 of 25
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    18. If you don't have the money to buy an extravagant gift for someone special, bake!



    A homemade meal or dessert is worth more than you'd think.
  • Discipline in your mind; extravagance in your heart 20 of 25
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    19. Discipline in your mind; extravagance in your heart.

    Be practical, but never forget to take the time to dream.
  • It is possible to be both pretty and smart 21 of 25
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    20. It is possible to be both pretty and smart.

    They don't always go together, certainly, but one thing does not preclude the other. This goes for you and also for people you meet.
  • There’s a science to everything 22 of 25
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    21. There's a science to everything.

    Dating, careers, friendships — just because it's not clear from the onset doesn't mean you can't figure it out.
  • Every time you rescue someone else, you rescue yourself a little bit 23 of 25
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    22. Every time you rescue someone else, you rescue yourself a little bit.

    You will have occasion to save people: to throw a life preserver, to present an opportunity, to alter a destiny for the better. Seize these chances. Reflect your best, most giving characteristics. Rescue yourself from tedious inward focus: These are your opportunities, too.
  • The measure of your goodness is not the amount of love you receive 24 of 25
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    23. The measure of your goodness is not the amount of love you receive.

    It is the quality of the love you give to others. It takes a long time to learn this lesson, maybe more time than most of us have.
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    Excerpted from Prudent Advice, Lessons for My Baby Daughter (A Life List for Every Woman) © 2010 Jaime Morrison Curtis (Andrews McMeel Publishing). Reprinted with permission.

    If you could give your daughter one piece of advice, what would it be? Tell us!
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