11 Things I Want My Daughter To Hear Me Say

11 Things I want my daughter to hear me say

I came across a link to a blog post recently titled something like “12 Things Your Daughter Needs To Hear You Say.” I was excited to read it, but the daughter of this mom is a teenager and their family values are different than ours. There was nothing on her list that I could imagine saying to my own daughter, especially at the ripe old age of 2.

So I made my own list. Here are 11 things I want my daughter to hear from me.

you can do this

1. You can do this.

I read a post this week by a mom saying she wasn’t helping her child up the ladder at the playground because she wanted her to learn that she can overcome an obstacle without help.

I resonate with that so strongly (even if I still sometimes help Bean up the ladder). I want her to hear me say, “You can do this,” and know I mean, “I believe in you. And I will celebrate with you. But I’m not going to make it happen for you.”

2. I hear you.

I’m sure it feels to Bean that all I ever say to her is “No.”

“Watch Martha?”

“No, not right now.”

“Me help cook?”

“No, this is too hot.”

“Me no sleepy!”

“No, you cannot stay up any longer.”

Because we are in opposition so often, and especially on days when we’ve been in conflict a lot, I want her to know that I do hear her.

“I hear you saying that you want to help me cook. This pan is hot, but would you like to put some cheese in this bowl and then I’ll pour it in the pan?”

puddle jumping

3. Yes.

As much as I want her to hear me say this, I need to hear myself say it. It is so easy to get wrapped up in the boundaries I set to keep her safe, keep the house tidy, keep me from having to do extra clean up. But there is magic in permission, wonder to be found in the “yes.”

Last week, instead of repeating my regular refrain of, “Don’t draw on yourself,” I surprised us both by saying, “You can draw on the paper and you can draw on your skin.  Please don’t draw on your clothes or the furniture.” She looked at me like she’d just won the lottery and then went to town with four different colors on every bit of skin she could find. It all came off in the bath a few hours later, anyway.

walking in the meadow

4. You can say no.

I want her to know that I respect her boundaries.  Sometimes I override them (when it is bedtime, for example), but I give her a lot of choices. She stops eating when she is full or doesn’t like the food. She can be naked (until we need to go to the store). She picks her jammies each night and which shoes she wants to wear each day.

This two-year-old moment right now is all about her learning where her boundaries are, now that she is finally aware of being distinct from me. My gut tells me that the more I encourage her to know and speak her boundaries now the easier it will be when she really needs that skill. Like when she’s involved with boys, or working for an overbearing boss.

sassy climber

5. Let’s try.

I don’t need her to think I’m the authority on everything. I want her to see me curious. I want her to see me learn. I want her to see me work toward something that is hard to achieve.

If she asks me to do something and I don’t know how to do it. I want to be willing to figure it out with her.

flowers from the market

6. Please. Thank you. I’m sorry.

Just in the last week Bean is consistently using these words and suddenly I’m aware of how often I say them to her. A lot. For the first few days she was parroting me, but now she’s using them more independently.

I want her to hear me say these things to her, but also to others. To see me loving her father, not always perfectly. To see me asking for and accepting help.

I can’t tell you how nice it was yesterday when she accidently whacked me in the face, then leaned in and hugged me and said, “I sorry, Mama.”

stella in glasses

7. You are beautiful and perfect, just like you are.

I worry about the slippery slope of beauty and body consciousness of little girls, littler all the time, so for a while I stopped myself when I wanted to say “You are beautiful!” But the truth is, she is beautiful. She is beautiful to me. She’s beautiful when her hair is a mess and she has snot on her face.  She’s beautiful when she’s so excited about the paint she is smearing everywhere.

I never want this to be the only way I articulate my love for her, but I want her to hear that I see her beauty in so many ways.

8. Let’s fix it or make a new one.

Recently, I brought out Bean’s summer clothes and showed her a particularly cute pair of shorts. “Mama make?” she asked. I wish I could always say yes to that, but I’m proud that I can occasionally. When something breaks or comes apart, she brings it to me and asks, “Mama fix?”

I want to raise a child who doesn’t just throw things away if they can be repaired. I want her to recognize the effort that goes into making things, whether that effort is our own or we are paying for someone else’s effort.

9. It feels good for me when you…

This morning while I drowsed before the alarm went off, Bean snuggled into me and pulled my arm over her like a blanket. I knew she was ready to get up but she seemed to sense how sleepy I was.

While we were driving across town to her daycare a little while later I said, “I really enjoyed snuggling with you this morning. That felt so good for me.”

“Me, too!” she said.

looking out the window

10. I will be back soon.

Every time I leave Bean, I tell her when I will be back. I hear her talking through the day sometimes: “Me go Grandma’s home, Mama go work. I cry. An’den, Mama come back! Me happy see you, Mama.”

It is always hard to leave her, even when I know she’s in excellent and loving arms. I know she misses me, too, and I want her to feel secure that I will always return.

me and stella

11. I love you, right now and always.

If the only words she remembers were these, they would be enough.


What things do you want your child to hear you say? I’d love to see your lists!


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24 Responses to 11 Things I Want My Daughter To Hear Me Say

  1. Trevor Miller October 20, 2016 at 10:51 pm #

    I wish she could hear me say I love you I’m sorry or I’m only doing this cause I care about you these things I think would make a great parent

  2. Cassidy June 14, 2014 at 1:28 am #

    Oh Gott….
    these make me crying.

    Yes…I hope I could say my Daughter these eleven Things too. Thank you for that.

    • Jessie January 12, 2016 at 11:34 am #

      I wish my daughter was still here. If she were, I would tell her what I said every morning. Good morning Sleeping Beauty. Since her name was Aurora.

  3. miriam April 12, 2014 at 4:24 pm #

    i love this list! i have a three year old son and now i am thinking about whether there would be a different list for a boy. hmmm.

    • Doña April 14, 2014 at 9:19 am #

      Miriam, I’d love to hear what kind of list you come up with for a boy!

  4. Kayla Dawn Thomas January 13, 2014 at 10:37 am #

    This is a beautiful list, and it translates very well to my seven year old. The only thing I would add is that practice makes better. C is a perfectionist and was getting very frustrated when she finally took the time to focus and practice something and it was up to her standard as perfect. Then I reworded the old adage that practice makes perfect to better. I’ve even heard her say this to herself when she is beginning to get frustrated. It helps us both realize there is no perfect in this world and we need to be happy with where we are right now!
    Kayla Dawn Thomas recently posted…Third Book vs First: What Changes, What Stays the SameMy Profile

    • Doña January 13, 2014 at 4:23 pm #

      Thank you, Kayla! That’s a great addition and mindset!

  5. Lail | With A Spin September 11, 2013 at 6:34 am #

    These are words all girl should hear.
    Lail | With A Spin recently posted…Protein Rich Split Pea Fudge – Chana Dal BarfiMy Profile

  6. Alex July 14, 2013 at 4:10 am #

    Hi I found your article on Pinterest!! I have to say I love it! It is amazing and spot on. Growing up and not having a good relationship with my mom has definitely kept me on my toes about how I nurture the relationship I have with my daughter and what things I want her to hear me saying in her head when i’m not around. A lot of the sayings you’ve mentioned I try which reaffirmed I am on a good path with what I am saying to her! I think this is an awesome list and perfect for every family with boys or girls!

    • Doña July 14, 2013 at 3:27 pm #

      Hi Alex, I’m so glad you found me! I’m glad I could reassure you. 🙂

  7. Melyssa @ The Nectar Collective June 7, 2013 at 12:41 am #

    This is a beautiful list! I don’t have children yet, but really enjoyed reading this. I also worked in a preschool before and a lot of these are great pieces of advice for anyone in that position. One thing that really stood out to me is telling her when you’ll be back when you’re leaving. My mom had to work night and day when I was a child and I missed her dearly. Hearing when she’d be back always made me a little happier. I also had a big bunny stuffed animal that she’d kiss every morning so that I could carry it with me throughout the day. Brings back such nostalgia and memories to think of those moments. Thank you for that, and for this post.

    Melyssa @ The Nectar Collective recently posted…Join the Par-tea! [GIVEAWAY]My Profile

    • Doña June 7, 2013 at 12:27 pm #

      Melyssa, that is so sweet that your mother kissed your bunny so you could carry it all day! I love it.

  8. KendraKay June 3, 2013 at 7:58 pm #

    I loved what you wrote here – especially the Lets try, since that’s a place where I think I get lazy sometimes! 😉 Sometimes I forget that the way we demostrate approaching these “little” things is how they will approach big important things one day.
    KendraKay recently posted…Favorite Day of AllMy Profile

    • Doña June 4, 2013 at 9:29 am #

      Thank you KendraKay! As much as I *want* my daughter to hear me saying these things, I don’t actually manage to say them quite as consistently as I’d like. I’m definitely saying “no” a lot more than “yes” this week. But it is all a practice, right?

  9. Collette June 2, 2013 at 9:07 pm #

    Beautiful Dona!! I love your girl and she was definitely the highlight of my faire experience yesterday. I am so glad you both came.

    Love, Collette

    • Doña June 5, 2013 at 7:45 am #

      Thank you, Collette! It was a wonderful afternoon and so great to see you, too. 🙂

  10. Becky Richardson May 30, 2013 at 8:34 pm #

    I love what you’ve written 🙂 Your daughter is so sweet!
    I understand your “worry” about body consciousness. I have a 14 year old daughter and that has been a subject we have visited many times. I encourage you to go ahead and tell your daughter that she is beautiful. It is truth! Along with that, teach her that there are MANY forms of beauty. Beauty is not just an external physical appearance thing. Beauty is what we all are when we strip away the paradigms and false beliefs about what it should mean. There is also beauty all around us, and we are connected to it. In fact, at age two, Bean still knows this 😉 She hasn’t been exposed to all the “hype” yet and it sounds like she is pretty secure in herself. No surprise there. She has a great mama <3


    • Doña May 31, 2013 at 12:00 pm #

      Becky, thank you for this. It is such a sticky subject, but you are right. Right now, she is in such a healthy place about her body. I can do more for myself by just letting her lead than worrying so much about the message I’m sending. There will be plenty of time for that worry later!

  11. Brandy May 30, 2013 at 7:28 pm #

    My daughter is 11 and my son is one and these are definitely things I want both of them to hear me say! Love!

    For me, I’d like my daughter to hear me say that I am following my dreams. And that she can follow hers too. That with a little work and a lot of faith, they really can come true. And that very often, following our passions and gifts will end up making the world a better place. And she has the power to make the world more beautiful.
    Brandy recently posted…The Time My Memoir Ran AwayMy Profile

    • Doña May 31, 2013 at 12:01 pm #

      I’m so with you on wanting your daughter to see you pursuing dreams. That’s a big one for me, too.

  12. Leah Mastilock May 30, 2013 at 3:13 pm #

    Great list! She’s a cutie! I try to use other words than No as well.

    • Doña May 31, 2013 at 12:01 pm #

      Thanks, Leah! I think she’s pretty adorable, too. 🙂

  13. Florence May 29, 2013 at 6:08 pm #

    Beautiful. I’m not a mom, but I’m an auntie, in the familial and the community sense, and these are words I want all girls to hear, from their moms and from all of the aunties, too.

    • Doña May 31, 2013 at 12:02 pm #

      Thank you, Florence. I agree – the more women figures who can pass on these messages, the better.

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