A Letter to My Daughter

Dear little girl,

When I was born

I was born into a world of conditions

And because of tradition, and societal ambition

I grew up within the confines of my sex

For as a girl, I had to be different from the boys.

So I was taught to accept life’s sorrows and accept life’s joys

Knowing and showing others how a lady acts

Because the fact is,

There are rules that every girl must follow.

Unspoken, but clear. Denied, Yet revered.

And just as I feared

I became confined to these rules:


Be strong, but not too strong

The boys cannot feel overpowered, or devoured by your womanly strength.

For if your opinions are too loud and clear

Even if you feel they can’t hear you above your whisper

Boys will fear you.

And although we are taught it is better to be feared than loved,

We cannot exist without the love of a man.

And little girl,

You don’t want that,

To impact the world around you

It is better to be weak

Filter the words that you speak,

Or just don’t speak.


Be proud, but not too proud

For pride is not meant for you.

See, a prideful girl is not a pretty girl.

And you know how boys are.

They will complain, call you vain, conceited

Put to shame that needed flame,

Placing blame on who you are

Far before they know your name.

Do not overstep your bounds, which abound with underserved humility.

Shrink back from arguments,

For you are not meant to feel confident in your opinions.

So to prevent friction

It is better to leave pride at the door,

Accept forced humility

For stability is more important than self-confidence.


Be smart, but not too smart.

For no one likes a know-it-all

And even when you know-it-all

Let the boys answer the question.

And question them,

Only to ask for help.

 See, they like to be the knight in shining armor

Even when the damsel is not distressed

Even when she has impressed her teacher with her knack for Calculus.

Little girl,

Learn measurements to cook, and biology to clean

And if it seems like the material is too hard

That is because you aren’t smart enough to know it anyway.

You can read and write, because boys will want love notes.

But the only chemistry you will need to succeed,

Is on your first date with the boy in basic math.

If you find that you are smarter,

Play dumb.

It is better to be married and uneducated

Then single and vindicated by your wealth of knowledge.


Be ambitious, but not too ambitious.

For most jobs aren’t meant for you.

See, women aren’t meant to lead

And I know you need dreams

So dream and deem yourself worthy

Of one day serving your husband

In your very own kitchen.

That is why men work because they are made to have a career

And not to fear,

For you will always have a place within the family.

But let your husband feel manly.

Bury the skills you have and be glad

To stay at home.

Little girls can dream

In their days spent alone, cooking and cleaning

And looking to please their husband.

But if ambition clouds your judgement,

Turn and run, and one by one,

You will no longer be pestered by those meaningless desires

To succeed.

Success does not come

To a woman who does not know her place.


Now as you go out into the world, little girl

You have a choice.

You can choose to follow these rules

As I did for so long.


You can be more, than so many women before you

Who did not choose unwisely,

But chose precisely what they thought they had to choose.

And baby, you can’t lose,

For who’s going to stop you if you don’t let them?

See, they told me and my mother and her mother before

That before you could get more out of life

You had to be less.

But you know best,

So drown out the sounds of those around you,

And listen to my words.

For these are the rules I now live by:


Be strong, and never be ashamed of your strength

For sometimes, you will be the strongest one

And you will be there to assist those in need.

And sometimes being strong

Means admitting that you need help.

Be proud, of yourself and those who came before you.

And before you go outside, remember your pride,

Remember to stand tall and confident

And don’t resent those who resent you.

Because it’s often true

That they are not proud of themselves.

Be smart and ambitious

Attack each problem, and be vicious.

Choose to be the best, to ace each test, to surpass the rest

Unless you find that you have lost sight of your dream.

For it seems that that is easy to do.

But for you.

My strong, confident, brilliant, and motivated

Little girl

You can change the world.

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