My daughter celebrates her eighth birthday this week. We kicked off the celebrations with a Star Wars-themed get-together with a few of her oldest friends.

I love that she chose Star Wars. And that she dressed up as Rey (in costume, complete with staff, that my father and stepmother bought her). And that she chose red and black as her colors (based on the Star Wars cake we ordered).

I love all this most because Star Wars was one choice among a variety of options she considered, including Guardians of the Galaxy, Monster High, and Disney princesses.

She loves them all. She enjoys playing with Barbie dolls AND fighting with lightsabers. She can play with the boys AND play with the girls. She’s been known to dig in the dirt for slugs while wearing her Easter dress.

She can be HER. Part sf geek, part Disney princess, part tomboy, part girly-girl, all Nola.

Be a kind, considerate person above all. After that, do what makes you happy. That’s what I try to teach my daughter.

If I succeed as nothing else as her parent, I seem to be doing a pretty good job letting her choose her own interests and not forcing my likes or dislikes on her. Or traditional gender roles, for that matter. She lives in a time where can be free to make her own choices.

Now, that’s something I will absolutely celebrate.

Allyson Longueira is publisher of WMG Publishing. She is an award-winning writer, editor and designer.