Prudent Advice

Life Lessons for My Daughter

Category Archives: Gratitude

#162 Mind your manners.

As a child you may feel as though you’re required to submit to an arbitrary set of rules: constantly told where to sit and what to say and which fork to use. I want you to understand the bigger reason for all of this, even beyond conforming to social norms. As an adult you won’t be afforded the same latitude you enjoy today to freely express your emotions. When the tide of your own passion is so high you’re at a loss for how to behave, your manners will guide you. They are the tool you will use to maintain your dignity.

#159 You reap what you sow.

I have always found this aphorism to be deeply touching. I don’t believe it means you are responsible for all the good and evil you experience. Things will happen to you in this life that you do not deserve. I know there is random unkindness and pain that I won’t be able to protect you from. But if you plant little seeds of goodness wherever you can, and you work to reflect light onto them, you will find that with the warmth of your effort and attention, they will reap abundant rewards. These rewards won’t come wrapped in patterned paper, but they also won’t disappear. If you neglect these opportunities, or if you use them to plant seeds of anger or disillusionment, you will regret it. Life can be unfair, but your deeds repay you in kind.

#155 You have responsibilities.

This is a big idea, little girl, but I know you can handle it. I want you to realize that as you grow you take on responsibility. In the beginning, you are explicitly accountable for items like your toys and your schoolwork. As you age, your responsibility becomes more implicit, expanding to include intangibles like friendships and family bonds. Whether or not you want this responsibility, it exists; you have influence over everything that you touch. Because I believe so strongly that you are worthy of this responsibility, I want you to embrace it. You have the capacity to make moral decisions and are therefore accountable to your choices. Those choices and the example they set mean something to this world, without ambiguity. You are of great significance not only to me, but also to yourself and to the world at large, so act accordingly.