Three things to tell you daughter on grad night


I wrote this post when my daughter graduated high school. With graduation season here, I decided to repost my thoughts from not quite ten years ago:

Today my little girl graduates high school. What a joy she has been to raise, teach and hang out with. I remember her kindergarten interview when she had to be tested for one of the coveted spots at St. Theresa’s. She had fun buns on her head and ankle high “Britney Boots,” marketed for little girls dreaming of becoming Britney Spears. She boldly entered the kindergarten class and announced to the world that she was “Robert’s little sister.”


Today, I have a tall, wise-cracking young lady with a big smile and sparkle in her eye. If I could tell my daughter three things she needs to know for her next adventure called college, what would it be? 



“To thine own self be true.” Don’t worry about what other people think. Do what you know is right. This famous quote is from Polonius to his son Laertes, before Laertes boards a boat to Paris in Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Even though it’s pretty old, it still resonates today.



Happiness is not having a boyfriend or being thin. My mom would tell me the worst things when I was my daughter’s age — mainly focused on the need to “have a man” — or that “a man would make me happy.” This must be a throwback to my mother’s generation, where a woman’s identity and self-worth were wrapped up in a spouse. Instead, I will tell my daughter that happiness is found within yourself — by doing something that you love. Once you find happiness in yourself, only then can you share it with others.




Don’t worry about what your career or major will be. You will figure it out. Don’t feel pressure about it. Most people going into college that have a major, change their minds anyway. Get your basic requirements out of the way and then after taking different classes, you will discover what you don’t like and what you do like.

And most importantly, not even on the list — I love you.

Utah Swimming and Dive  Kat Wickham

What three things would you tell your son or daughter on graduation night?

44 thoughts on “Three things to tell you daughter on grad night

  1. Oh what a lovely note Elizabeth. Very touching. Very wise. I always find it interesting to look back and see the things my kids were worried about right before their high school or college graduations and see how and where they are. The worries and fears they had all just sort of melt away. Love the wisdom. Beautiful shots too. A credit to her and you. Job well done Mom.

    • Thank you, Brian. I remember really working on something profound to say when my kids left for college. But I was so choked up, I had no words. High school graduation was easier, because we had summer together. The things they worried about back then did melt away. Now they have new adult issues!

  2. Those ten years whip past us, don’t they? I don’t know where the time goes but what I DO know? Your beautiful post and loving words are inspirational — just like a powerful commencement address. Such potent reminders to not define (especially our girls) themselves based on their relationship status or number on a scale. And this? “I will tell my daughter that happiness is found within yourself — by doing something that you love. Once you find happiness in yourself, only then can you share it with others.” Truth right there. It’s a little lengthy for a tattoo, but I think that wisdom belongs on a billboard…written in the sky…emblazoned in hearts. Everything good starts from within. Thank you so much for sharing, Elizabeth…and…your daughter is lovely. Just like her mama. 🥰

    • Thank you so much for your kind words! Definitely too long for a billboard or a tattoo. I wanted to tell my daughter the opposite of what I was told heading off to college. I didn’t want her to believe she was going to school for her MRS degree! 💕

  3. I think somewhere in my archives are posts about each kid when they graduated. For sure high school and maybe college as well. I need to go back and check!

    Yours was a lovely post for daughter, simple but so true. Lots of memories attached to those years I’m sure for both you and her EA.

  4. My son – (1) The knee is the weakest point. Take out the knee, the biggest monster collapses; (2) if you are not shooting center mass, you are wasting ammo, and (3) if you find yourself in a fair fight, you did not properly plan. My daughter – (1) Avoid an innie unless 9 month later you are ready for an outie; (2) Men are just life support systems for a hard on, and (3) if you have issues, consult your brother. I gave him three tips that can be useful.

  5. Keep moving, don’t stand still for long.
    Don’t let everyone always know your game plan. Surprise them.
    Never expect anything in return. Some are incapable of giving back, so don’t expect anything and if it is given to you, rejoice.

      • Never set yourself up for failure as only certain people will put the most out for you. Hopefully, you chose the right people in life when you have those emergencies like the washer flooding our floor last night and the husband and I waking up to a mess and a ruined floor. We just finished 5 hours of clean up. I did chose the right guy for good times and bad times. As for friends, be your own bestie. Thanks for listening.

      • Yikes! I was upset that I dropped a glass unloading the dishwasher and had to make sure all the glass shards were gone. That pales in comparison 😊

      • Yes, it was horrible. The funny thing was that I thought I heard water running all night and did not get up because I thought I was imaging it. I opened the door leading to the washer and dryer and the water poured out. A pipe broke. It was a lot of hard work for the husband and I . I can only help with lifting so much with my right hip. Not a good day. We are still seeing if we have to replace the whole living room floor. Husband turned on the washer on and it was still going when we went to bed. An old pipe burst. I guess it could have burst anytime. It was upsetting.

      • Yes, it could have happened when we were out and about. It could have easily been worse. Moving the dryer and the washer several times is not fun. The good thing is some things that were hidden got cleaned and we were both here when it happened. And the husband knew how to shut off the water and which hose (metal) to replace it with.

      • I have a friend who moved into a newly remodeled house and within a month she had a busted pipe in the wall that flooded her floor. It was some knucklehead who put a nail through the pipe hanging dry wall and eventually it burst.

  6. Oh, this is such a beautiful post, Elizabeth! I love it – and the pictures. It’s so precious! I trust that advice has served her well but also that you raised her knowing all the things she needed to know! I think it’s interesting that many colleges and universities want kids to apply to the program they want to be in at the outset because your advice to study whatever draws her interest is so good. Love love love this post!

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