I have always liked the notion of parents writing words of wisdom to their kids, giving them advice and what-not-to-do’s.

So this is for my future daughter- if I am ever blessed with one again.

Dear Daughter,

You are 16 now. I don’t know why, but I think 16 is a good age for you to be given this sort of advice. I wish I had been given this when I was your age. God. Where do I even begin.

YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL- no matter what other people say. I hope that I have raised you well enough to be able to look in the mirror and appreciate what you see. I hope I have reigned in my insecurities enough around you so that you are not haunted by the thoughts your mother, grandmother and great-grandmother all had- “I need to lose weight, I am fat.”I hope I have spared you a childhood of that.

You are stronger than you think. I hope I have raised you to be a resilient, strong young woman. No matter what, you will come through whatever the universe can throw at you. I did when I was your age. No matter what people say to/about you, no matter what the media may tell you to be, no matter what happens- you will get through it, get into adulthood and realise- just as I did- that it was all trivial. Whatever seemed important then- it isn’t going to be! You get through it! You are strong! I made the mistake of thinking I wasn’t strong enough. No amount of not eating and starving myself to perfection, self-harming, or pretending everything was ok could make me get through the difficult years of being a teenager. It was pure inner strength that got me there. Please don’t make the mistakes I did. PLEASE talk to me- talk to anyone-if you are struggling. I hope we have the kind of relationship where you feel as though you can approach me with anything.

I can take anything you have to give.

Now. Now that I have told you that life gets better. Now for boys.

Boys. Teenage boys.

I had my fair share of relationships with boys when I was your age- in fact one of my ex-boyfriends is one of my best friends. I hope he still is when you are around. I have so much, and so little advice to offer to you about boys.

You would think that with your mum being a high school teacher, I’d know what to say. But this is different.


Do not say “I love you” in the forst month. Use the time to really get to know them, to know if he is right for you. To see if he respects you, is nice to you, looks forward to seeing you. Respect is the key to a good relationship my love.

I was in a relationship where there was little respect. That relationship, when I was 17, left me scarred and sad.

On that.

DO NOT have sex with a boy because they say they love you. DO NOT have sex in a house where you know there won’t be anyone home all day. Your safety is important.

If he says he loves you, and tries to force you to have sex, kick him in the balls and run. I wish I had that option when I was your age, I wish someone had told me that. Sex with this guy, it wasn’t rape, it wasn’t un-wanted. It was forced and I was blackmailed into it. I was so scared of him leaving me, I let him do it. He told me I wanted it.We only ever did it a handful of times, and each time, it was horrible because it was forced. I didn’t want it.

It is ok to say NO. NO- loud and clear. There will be other boys my love. There will never be another chance to take back your virginity. Or your dignity. Or self-respect.

It’s how I wound up pregnant at 17, in my final semester at school. He knew I suspected I was pregnant and that was it.

My ex-boyfriend up and left one day, with no word, no apology and me pregnant. I was about 8 weeks I think. I lost the baby a week and a half later. At 10 weeks. This was your big sister, her name was Lily. She meant the world to me- as much as you do now.

PLEASE, please,please come to me if any of this happens. I couldn’t go to my mum when I was pregnant. I was too scared to. You can come to me- with anything. I’d die if I knew you were in the same pain I was, all alone.

Now that the yucky business it out of the way.

In life, do what makes you happy. I was told when I decided I wanted to be a teacher, that my parents-your grandparents- would not support me with my decision. I did it anyway- and now I am a qualified teacher. I hope the career makes me happy, but the CHOICE of career did make me happy. You need to do something you enjoy- not something that pays millions of dollars, not something that comes with a wanky, prestegious title. Not something that I want you to do. You have to decide what YOU want to do. And if it is collecting garbage, you be the best damned garbage collector there is. JUST BE HAPPY! This goes for everything in life- make the decisions that make you happy.

Be happy, find peace, follow your heart.

I hope I can be proud to have you as my daughter. I am sure I will be, no matter what!

I love you, forever.