Co-authored by Dr. Pratima Gupta who works with Kaiser Permanente on increasing access to family planning and education of residents and medical students. She holds faculty appointments at the University of California, San Francisco and is the volunteer medical director for the St. James Infirmary.
We make sure you eat your vegetables and cross our fingers that you will sleep through the night. We encourage you to say "please" and share your toys. These are important lessons, but you will soon learn (if you haven't already) that our hopes for you are much bigger than the day to day tasks that take up so much of our times as parents.
We fear the barriers and limitations the world will try to put in your way; and we want you to advocate for a life full of justice and physical and emotional richness that does not come from material objects. We feel the amazing honor and awesome responsibility every day of raising you. We wish for you a future and a life where you can dream without limits, but we also have hopes for the kind of people you will be.
Treat people with respect, including you. It is important that you look beyond our family and that you are kind to everyone. Try to see things from other people's perspectives and learn from them. You should be aware that our families have many blessings - many privileges. As a family, we can work to bring more support, resources, and equity into the lives of other people.
It is important that you are also kind to yourself, that you have a strong sense of who you are and that you stand up for what you believe in even if, in fact, especially, when it is not the popular idea. Growing up can be tough and there are people who will try to tear you down or make you doubt yourself because you are short or tall, because you are good at math or bad at sports or because your families look a little different than some other families. We will do our best to always be there for you, to support you and remind you that our families are special, that you are special and that because we share so much love, we are very lucky.
Take care of your body and love your body! When we look at you we see perfection. There may be bullies on the playground or ridiculous images in the media that will make you question yourself. Know that you are loved and perfect just the way you are.
We have had our own struggles with the messages out there telling us we have to look and dress a certain way. We want to help you push through that noise and see your body in all its wonderful potential, understand that food is fuel and know that the mirror is something you can use to brush your teeth or check out a new look, but should never be feared. We only hope you can try to see yourself through our eyes. We will make sure to watch how we talk about our bodies and help you understand that you are so much more than how you look.
Body image is not the only pressure you'll face. Drinking and drugs are a real thing and part of taking care of your body. We aren't going to tell you to "just say no" and shut off the conversation. We want to talk to you about things like not getting into the car with someone who has been drinking, but we hope to also have real conversations with you about healthy decisions and consequences, peer pressure and addiction. We will be up front about some of the choices we have made in life and the lessons we have learned. We know you think we are old, but we were once in your shoes struggling with many of the same pressures, so hopefully you can learn something from our experiences.
Know that sex and sexuality should be healthy and fun. We apologize (sort of) that we will be the moms who embarrass you by talking about birth control and sex in front of your friends. You may roll your eyes at us, but know that we just want you to have the information to protect your sexual health and make informed decisions about sex.
We will talk to you about consent. You get to have a say over what happens to your body and when. That is so important. But while sex can sometimes be confusing, it can also be funny and fun. We commit to being sex-positive parents. We will not buy into the "can't date or have sex until you're 30" joke. Instead, we want to help you understand that sex is a natural and healthy part of life.
We will do all we can to make sure that you get comprehensive, medically accurate information in school and to push against laws that limit the ability of health professionals in your life from providing you with information and care that you may need. We will continue to do our part to fight laws that restrict young people's access to reproductive health care or put up discriminatory and punitive limitations for pregnant and parenting teens.
We will answer your questions about sex, relationships, pregnancy and parenting honestly and candidly. If we don't have an answer, we will help you find them. We will also understand if there are times that you do not feel comfortable talking to us. We will make sure to surround you with supportive adults -- family members, teachers, clergy, health professionals, friends - who can be there for you in times of celebration or challenge.
Spend time with people who help you to be your best self and make you happy. We are lucky to have found loving spouses to share our lives with. We will try our best to model healthy and supportive relationships. We will show you that though we don't always agree on everything we love each other.
There may be heart break in your life. It happened to us along the way. We promise to listen, to dry any tears and to avoid saying, "I told you so." We hope you will find and build relationships grounded in respect and love and that any partner you choose will enrich your life. We promise not to interrogate anyone you bring home too much.
The fact is that at times you will see us as the people who nag you to pick up your room or do your homework. We will often play the role of chauffeur and chef, but know that we are also your biggest supporters. We hope to be able to teach you and also learn from you. We can't wait to see you continue to grow up and be the person that you hope to be!
Follow Morgan Meneses-Sheets on Twitter: www.twitter.com/morgmeneshets