On Raising Girls

…in conjunction with International Women’s Day Centenary

As Georgia grows up, I often find myself contemplating the messages that I send to her through my actions, the things I say, the way I am and more importantly, the choices I make or have made.

And as we celebrate the centenary of the International Women’s Day (on the 8th March 2011), it seems just the right time to articulate my thoughts. In an open letter to a now 5-year old Georgia, I want her to know …

On striving to reach your potential and achieving your dreams

Regardless of what people tell you, what they think of you and whatever limits others might place on you, always, ALWAYS do your very best. Even if you don’t at first achieve what you set out to, YOU will know that you have given it your best.

There will be people who, will laugh in your face, fill you with doubts, brush off your ideas and your self-belief, but you will need to rise above all that and remember, REMEMBER, that only you can determine your own achievements.

Dreams are your window to the future. You will achieve whatever you can dream, as long as you put your mind to it.

On having a career

Many women will have walked these paths before you, luckily, but this does not mean that things will be or should be easier.

Today (2011, as I write this), it is still very much a ‘man’s world’ in a lot of senses, but that is not to say that women have not broken barriers and accomplished great things.

I hope that in your time, things will different, and you will find guidance and support, whatever paths you choose to follow.

On making choices and finding a balance

After all is said and done, it will come down to you, as a woman, to make choices that will work for you, at that particular moment in time. Remember, you do not need to be dictated to by the ‘norms’ of society, nor do you need to follow the average path of your peers.

Much as society would like us to believe, success is not always driven by the balance of your bank statement, nor the size of your real estate, it is not that fancy job title either.

Success lies completely in your own definition of it. And if you can close your eyes tonight and every night and think of all you have achieved today (whether it be closing billion dollar deals, or baking (your current favourite) fairy cakes) – What a SUCCESS you already are!

And remember – Be Happy! – Nothing could be more important than that!

Why have I written this?

All of my life, I have had to achieve, a bit like getting high on a drug, I suppose success was my drug. Accomplishment was everything and all, and then I became a mother.

Nobody ever tells you how much you will change, how much what was once all-important becomes secondary to that milk-guzzling, poop-pumping 6 pounds of your own flesh and blood.

Achievements just did not sit well with my definition of Motherhood, and as I uncover more and more like-minded people, writing fervently in blogs online, I gratefully find myself in good company. So here I find myself, excessively qualified to just stay-at-home, but, for a long time, to do otherwise, seemed so wrong.

Having been dictated to, by society that women can and should be more than just SAHMs, it has taken me a long while to accept that, for now, my choices are fine.

I know, Georgia is going to grow up in a World where more and more fantastic women will break greater barriers and boundaries, and those choices may keep them happy, but I also want her to know that if she chooses to not be one of those women, that will be fine too, as long as she is happy.


What messages and lessons from your own life, would you leave your daughters?

© 2011, Li-ling. All rights reserved.


  • That’s a beautiful letter! How different the world would be if more daughters had such loving, wise words to grow on!

    There is a song called “She” by Green Day, and one of the lyrics says, “She’s figured out that all her doubts were someone else’s point of view.” I think you articulated this idea in your letter as well, but for me that is so important. I still have so much doubt, which inevitably leads to fear, because of the perspective I was given by my parents, and then later by peers (to whom I was vulnerable because I hadn’t learned the internal filters or assertiveness to stand with what I knew or believed). I don’t think my parents meant for this to be the result, an indecisive, insecure adult, and certainly my peers never thought deeply enough about anything to realize or care about consequences, but I want my kids to have the inner strength to trust what is true for them, because no one else can tell you what that is, and if you doubt yourself so profoundly, you will be cut off from the source of that inner wisdom.

  • Elena, Thank you very much for your kind words! I must look for that song.
    I think simply by realising, and being aware that you have those doubts, you have taken a really great step forward. The fact that you try so hard to parent differently – to how you were parented – your children are very lucky.

    Keep thinking positive, changes come from taking one small step at a time. 🙂 Have a great week ahead!

  • Lovely post. Insightful and poignant. I am currently compiling a letter to my 16 year old daughter. What I liked about this is that it leaves room for your daughter to breathe and to be exactly who she is.

    • Thank you very much, HMS (What an honour :)). It’s only in recent years, (with much salt, as they say) that I find myself at peace with my choices. It has in some ways been a long hard road, not least because of these expectations that we place on ourselves as women. Much as I hope that girls of today will be able to grow up and be happy and at peace with their choices, I fear, society always ostracises what they perceive to be the ‘wrong’ choice, no matter how ‘right’ it is for the person in question.
      This is just my little way of saying to Georgia, you’ll be fine, whatever you decide, as long as you’re happy. (Ok, I lie, the Tiger Mummy in me says, you still have to try your very best whatever it is, then you’ll be happy ;))
      It would be lovely if you do, or are able to, share your letter to your daughter – we can learn so much from each other, and I’m sure your letter will be just amazing!

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