A few weeks ago, I was on the phone with my mom, chatting about Little CEO. It was a general conversation about what she’s up to, where she’s headed, some ongoing struggles I have with her and how much she is growing and changing right now.
In the middle of the conversation, my mom said,
“Just remember. The most important thing you can teach her is modesty.”
She was referring to modesty of the body-consciousness sort – and not the don’t-be-arrogant sort.
When we hung up, it finally struck me how odd I found her comment.
The most important thing you can teach her is modesty.
I reflected back on my own very strict Catholic upbringing. Growing up, I was taught that modesty was the most important thing.
Or maybe I wasn’t. Looking back, what was drilled into me was Thou Shalt Have No Sexuality. Perhaps the message was intended to be Thou Shalt Be Modest, but that’s not how it was received and internalized by me.
I realize now that a lot of those messages of shame and guilt really screwed me up socially for years after. It was only as an adult that I was able to right-side my moral ship and know what sexual boundaries were right for me.
There is a fine line between modesty and shame.
I want Little CEO to walk the side of that fine line that I did not. I want her to celebrate her femininity, not be embarrassed of it.
So what I know for sure is that modesty is not the most important thing to teach my daughter – at least not in the way my own mom suggested.
But what IS the most important thing to teach my daughter?
If I can amass my parental influence toward one single character trait, what should it be?
What is the most essential tool in her human toolbox?
The obvious ones come instantly to mind: kindness, compassion, empathy. But others surface, too: spirituality, perseverance, integrity, self-awareness, belief in oneself. Do many of these traits naturally flow from one overarching trait – one ring to rule them all?
I realize with a fair amount of discouragement that in some ways, the die is perhaps already cast. Her strengths and challenges emerge and evolve with each passing day – she’s likely hard-wired to be who she is. Maybe I can only soften and dull some of her sharper edges and polish up the smooth ones so they shine much brighter.
It occurs to me, though, that as a family, it’s probably not a bad idea to have one core value that we hold in the highest of esteem. It’s still up for debate what that value should be, but I’m happy that I’ve been given the opportunity to ask myself the question.
What do you feel is the most important thing to teach your child or children?