13 Things I Want My Daughter To Know on Her 13th Birthday

My daughter just celebrated her 13th birthday and her bat mitzvah. After months and months of hard work, of late nights studying, she stood up in front of friends and family and beautifully recited her Haftorah portion. In the Jewish community, technically, she’s now an adult — a woman — with adult-sized responsibilities and obligations.

While I’m not quite ready to send her off into adulthood just yet — 13 is still young in so many ways —there are a few adult-sized lessons I want to make sure she knows now. A few of these she’s probably heard on repeat — but they’re worth repeating — and a few I’ve only just learned myself, and why not give her a head start?

Don’t Fall Victim to the Trap of “One Day”

It’s easy to say you’re going to do something one day. It’s easy to promise to get together some time, to vow to write that book one day, to take the trip next year. Some time, one day, next year are illusions. They’re words that make you feel like you’re moving, but really you’re stuck in the same spot wishing you were somewhere else.

Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed — unfortunately that’s all too familiar a truth in our family. If there’s something you want to do, don’t fall victim to the trap of waiting for one day that may never come. Do it now. Make the phone call, write the first word, book the plane ticket.

Own Your ‘No

“No” is a tiny word, but it’s immensely powerful. It’s a word I’m still learning to use without guilt and without couching it in softening language. The faster you can learn to own your “no”, to not feel guilty using “no”, the better. No is your boundary. No is often your peace. Owning my “no” is a lesson I learned the hard way — and I hope you don’t have to.

Be Open to New Experiences, New Ideas, New Points of View

This lesson could also be summarized as “put your phone down”. Recognize that the world is so much bigger than our little town, than the (often brilliant and wonderful) people who fill our little town. The world is bigger than either of us can imagine, so be open to experiencing as much as you can about it. Be open to seeing old ideas in new ways and new ideas in old ways. You’ll never be bored.

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