The following is an excerpt from an extensive hypothetical letter to any of my potential future children, written in response to the prompt, “Describe how social conventions will effect your child’s life.”

I was raised by a fairly centrist mother, and a father who called himself “independent” but would later become the most conservative person I knew. This was before they divorced, and your grandfather’s strong beliefs often overran my mother’s passive nature, which made for one small girl who took his word as gospel and opinions as her own. Young minds are something beautiful and innocent, and must be treated delicately, you see. They are highly impressionable, and the experiences one has as a child can determine their personality later in life– things such as nervous ticks, open-mindedness or stubbornness, the way people trust, learn, love, or have confidence in themselves. Every person is shaped by these experiences, including myself. Including you. This is why it is important to educate children on topics and allow them to form their own opinions and beliefs. This is why as a young child who didn’t know any better, I would have gone teary eyed fighting for someone else’s views rather than educate myself and form my own.

Looking back on it, is above all, baffling to me. Not about why I would have fought for those views– it’s quite clear to me that the environment I was raised in, and that idea of being “Daddy’s Girl” and always agreeing with him was why I spouted his political beliefs. Unless she’s some sort of prodigy, you can’t exactly expect a 10-year-old girl to go searching through CNN, and MSNBC to understand the views of varying political parties and figure out her own stance on foreign policy and the death penalty, which is why, while it is somewhat embarrassing to reflect upon, I don’t feel a lot of remorse. I am not baffled by my own actions; rather, I wonder why my parents raised me with such strong political beliefs in mind. I wonder whether they ever thought about the effect it would later have on me in life, and I wonder if my grandparents raised them in that same fashion.

I hope that I pave a better path for you. I hope that I educate you, rather than think for you. I hope that I do my job as a parent to give you the tools that you need in order to be successful; to teach you the values of kindness, compassion, and being humble; and that you might take those same lessons in character and use them to shape your own views and opinions, and to make the world a bit of a better and brighter place yourself.

I never wanted kids. That’s what I’ve always said. They’re a hassle financially, physically and emotionally take a toll on you, and drain you of time, patience, energy, and resources. So if we’ve made it to this point together… you must be worth it. If we’ve made it to the point where you are literate enough to read, understand, no not understand, but under-stand and appreciate this, I think I have done my job at least somewhat well. And if you’ve made it to the point where you’re okay with being… different?

I think we’ve done pretty damn good, You.