14 Things I Want to Tell My Daughter

mothers and daughters

By Indu Partha

education concept with book and university campusWe dropped our oldest child to college a few months ago. After months of anticipation, move-in day went by in a blur. One minute we were picking out a new comforter, and the next we were saying our goodbyes near the elevators with her two (thankfully super sweet) roommates looking on. We probably behaved like any other American family, except for the mini Hindu altar we left on her desk. Nothing wrong with asking for a little divine help, is there?

Theoretically, we were ready to let her go. Like many Indian parents, we want our kids to get the finest education that they possibly can, and despite the incredulous looks and “you are crazy” comments we received when others heard about our pending tuition fees, we felt confident about our decision. She had earned her admission, and we would pay for it, just like our parents had done for us. We wanted her to experience life beyond our smallish town, and hoped she would be able to broaden her knowledge of Indian culture and develop more Indian friendships in “the big city.” We will have to wait and see how, and where, she strikes the balance between her American and Indian lives.

I had imagined that our leave taking would have been fueled with philosophical words of wisdom, but the reality was more like drop off on the first day of preschool—parents rushing out before emotions ran amok. We wanted to leave with smiles and encouraging words, because we want her to know, with surety, that she is going to be amazing and have an unforgettable experience at her chosen school.

If I had had a few more minutes though, this is what I would have told her:


  1. Be kind. Be respectful. Be responsible. This elementary school mantra will serve you well for the rest of your life.

    Indu Partha, Contributor

  2. Stay classy. When in doubt, wear a dress. Always better to be over prepared than to look like you didn’t care enough to prepare at all. Dress for the job you want, not the job that you have.
  3. There is safety in numbers. Remember your class field trips? Always stay with a buddy.
  4. Fake it till you feel it: confident, smart, and powerful. You have a voice. Let it be heard.
  5. Remember that song from “Annie”: “The sun will come out tomorrow.” It’s true. There is always a chance to do it again, fix what is broken, right a wrong. Keep in mind-the world keeps turning. So should you. Even at your most discouraged, just put one foot in front of the other and keep going. The world isn’t going to wait for you.
  6. Have faith. In God. In yourself. In karma. Believing in something larger than you will help to keep life in perspective.
  7. Give it all you’ve got. It’s not failure if you have done your best.
  8. Every experience has something to teach you. Take the time to learn what that lesson is.
  9. You are never too old to say, “Please, thank you, and sorry.”
  10. Honesty is still the best policy. The world needs good people like you. Don’t let the cutthroats tell you otherwise.
  11. You are loved. If you take a quiet moment every day, you will surely feel the love, blessings, and happy thoughts we are wishing for you across the miles.
  12. Think twice before “sharing” on social media. What you post will follow you-through new friendships, job interviews, and future jobs. Ask yourself: Will what I post today affect my ability to become the person I want to be?
  13. One of may favorite quotes. “Promise me you’ll always remember: You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” –A.A. Milne
  14. You are enough. In fact, you are more than enough. However did we get so lucky?


We love you, sweet girl. Go out and get it! We’ll be here cheering you on.


You can follow Indu on Twitter @InduPartha

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There are 7 comments

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  1. Roma Khetarpal

    Indu, your heartfelt advice so resonates! Interestingly enough, I felt the same way, the second time around, when my daughter went off to grad school after being home for three years. Many-a-times its hard to put all of our advice and blessings in words, especially when we are tied down with the “doing” of things. Can’t wait to share this! Thank you 🙂

  2. Sujatha K

    I loved your article! I have three children who are eight, five, and three. I know just how fast time flies, and even though they are not going to college yet, I can relate to all of your pointers above, and take them to heart! sniff 🙂

    • Indu Partha

      Thank you so much for reading, Sujatha! Sorry, I thought I had replied to your comment ages ago. Enjoy the kids…just when you think it can’t get any better and they can’t get any cuter…they do! Have fun and I really appreciate your kind comments.

  3. Indu Partha

    Hi Roma! Thank you very much for your kind comments. Your words mean a lot. It’s funny that you mention the getting tied down “with the doing of things.” I have found that the doing of things (work, taking care of the other 2 kids, house chores, etc) has helped “distract” me from feeling the void overmuch. I guess distraction can be a good thing. More than anything, having seen how she is thriving in her new environment has helped the most with my adjustment! Indu

    • Roma Khetarpal

      Ah yes, Indu! The wonderful world of “doing” is great to distract us–but often temporarily.. Fortunately, you were able to express your underlying feelings so beautifully in this post. When we don’t, those unexpressed feelings find a way to exit, often by interrupting and disrupting our doing! Our thoughts, feelings and expressions are the three facets of our internal and external communication and when unexpressed feelings weigh us down, our communication is thrown off balance flowing into the tasks at hand–the doing. And look, your message is a gift that also encouraged others to express and bring to surface similar feelings. Thanks again, Indu! I shared the post on my FB page and have a few resonating comments there too. Please do check them out (Roma Dhingra Khetarpal). In Joy!!

  4. Indu Partha

    Roma, your words struck a chord. The first week and a half after drop off were filled with unexpressed emotion and a vague sense of “something is not right.” I was more than blue without explanation…until I said the words out loud to my husband, “I miss her,” and let the tears fall. After months of being everyone else’s cheerleader, I was long overdue to do my own grieving.

    • Roma Khetarpal

      I feel you, Indu– I’ve felt the same every time my kids have gone away for extended periods of time. The expression of emotion definitely takes the edge off. Confession: I had a minor meltdown myself, just this morning, when my daughter– a young adult now–awoke me with a text that read, “Good Morning, Ma! I miss my Momma’s hugs!”. And I consider myself a very well balanced and “strong” Mom…LOL!!!

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