I am so thankful that you are still my little girl. I am thankful that you are too young to know the uproar that was caused last weekend when yet another starlet "shocked" fans and parents of fans. I am thankful that you are still too young to ask for permission to watch an awards show on television that I know will expose you to material that is too old for you, material that will challenge your innocence. I am thankful that you are too young to have witnessed a grown man singing about having sex while dancing with a young woman nearly half his age. And I am thankful that you did not have to witness the backlash against the young woman and the delayed response to the actions of the grown man who should have known better, who should have acted better.
I am thankful that you are too young to read and understand stories of judges who give less than a slap on a wrist to a grown man who takes advantage of a young woman. I am thankful that you are too young to understand that there are countries in this world where it is the norm to persecute women who behave immorally while winking at the men who were their partners. I am thankful that you are still too young to understand that there is a universal double-standard for purity.
You are too young to know these things, but I promise to teach you that:
- You are incredibly special. You will hear this from many people, including your mom and dad. We don't just say it because we are your parents and you are a part of us. We say it because it is true. Do not let anyone take that knowledge away from you. You are better than that.
- People need to earn your respect. Admire women who have earned that admiration, not girls who have yet to figure out who they are. I did it too. Candice Cameron was DJ Tanner. Keshia Knight-Pulliam was Rudy Huxtable. I grew up with them. I loved them. I admired them. But at some point fiction and reality separated. You may look up to the young women you grow up watching on television and listening to on your iPod, but make them earn your respect. Make them earn your admiration. They are imperfect people susceptible to very public mistakes. Learn from them but do not emulate them.
- Sexy and beautiful are not synonymous. You are beautiful inside and out. To seek to be sexy is to want boys to love you for the wrong reasons. You will get tired of hearing me say this, especially when you get to high school, but seek boys who love you for the right reasons. Boys who see your beauty and praise it because they admire you, not because you are a prize to be won. Boys who are attracted to your intelligence, not your lack of it. Boys who encourage your creativity, not those who try to suppress it. Do not seek to be something you are not to get a boy to love you. That is not love. This is the model of love you will see from your celebrity peers so do not look to them for dating advice. Demand something better. You may have to wait for it. It will be hard, but it will be worth it.
- I will always love you. We will fight. We are too much alike to not fight. But I love you. I will love you when you feel awkward. I will love you when the acne attacks. I will love you through the bad hair episodes. I will love you through the first crush. I will love you when that first crush breaks your heart. I will love you through all the storms. You may put up walls and try to shut the door and I will do my best to give you the space when I know you need it, but when you need your mom, you don't have to ask. I will tear those walls down.
- I do understand you. I do remember what it is like to have younger siblings. I do remember what is like to get that first pair of glasses and be afraid that it will ruin you. I do remember what it is like to not get the part. I do remember what it is like to have your heart broken. I do remember what it is like to have zits show up at the worst possible moment. I do remember what it is to be young and in love with raging hormones. It gets better. I promise that it gets better.
- Most importantly, you are a forgiven child of God. You are not perfect. You will make mistakes. But He loves you more than your mom and dad ever could and that is a lot. He sacrificed His son for a world estranged from Him. Never forget it. Live your life like you will never forget it.