I have always been happy about the bond I shared with my 4-year old daughter. As a work from home mom, we have always been close from the day she was born, and we have never spent more than a day away from each other. During the latter part of last year, she just started pre-school and I recently accepted a part-time office-based job, and while we are adapting to having more time away from each other, we try to more than make up for it with end of the day dates and conversations whenever we can have them.
While my daughter is more than happy to share everything with me right now, I know that this will not be the case in the not-so-distant future when she grows up. And all of my apprehensions about raising a daughter were brought to the forefront after I finished Sad Girls.
Sad Girls is the much-anticipated debut novel from international bestselling author Lang Leav. The novel revolves around Audrey, a teen whose lie led to the death of her classmate, Ana. But while it’s a beautifully-written and emotionally-charged coming of age story, the parent in me could not help but worry about the issues that I would soon face. So here are a few things that Sad Girls taught me about raising a daughter:
- Emphasize how wonderful and worthy my daughter is of her own life.
In the novel, Ana was described as someone who was “careless” with her life. Granted, Ana might be dealing with mental health issues that led to her suicidal tendencies (something the novel did not go into detail), but this reminds me to be highly mindful of my daughter’s issues and emotional well-being, as doing so will ensure that we can provide and secure for her the help she may need. At the same time, showing her the beauty and importance of life will ensure that she fully appreciates it.
Along these lines, in the same way that my daughter should fully appreciate her life, she should be taught to do the same for other lives as well. To be unlike Audrey, who was unmindful enough to speak out the lie in the first place. To be conscious of how her words and actions could affect her friends and peers as she grows up.
- Ensure that my daughter has a strong self-image that can help her remain strong and happy through the period of adolescence.
In the novel, one of Audrey’s friends, Candela made a few bad choices when she got in with the wrong crowd. I know adolescence seems like a long way off now that my daughter’s 4, but it would never hurt to help her establish a strong sense of self as early as now. Helping her establish a strong sense of who she is and what her values are will empower her in every future decision she makes, and remain steadfast in spite of whatever bad influences that might come her way.
- Teach her the value of independence and the insignificance of popularity.
The novel never did really explain Audrey’s reasons for telling the lie that started it all, only that she told it to her closest friends without expecting that it would spread. From an outsider’s perspective, it seems that Audrey told it for the sake of telling a story – as she is a writer after all. To be popular for a bit in her circle of friends as she’s the only one who knows a secret. There’s nothing wrong with being popular, the problem lies in what we are willing to do to attain it – as in Audrey’s case, her lie that hurt a lot of people. Teaching my daughter to be independent and not to put too much value on popularity can hopefully avert her from seeking it too much.
- Give her the freedom to be her own person and make her own choices.
In the novel, Audrey was able to find herself after going out on her own. My daughter going out or living on her own might be unthinkable for me right now, but the thing is, all kids will eventually grow up and face the world on their own someday. So rather than protecting and prohibiting her from doing so, the best thing I can do is to arm her with the right wisdom and life-tools that will hopefully keep her on the right path.
*Originally published in momcenter.com.ph