I met a new neighbor yesterday. Upon hearing that I have a teenage daughter, she replied, “I’m sorry.”
This happens quite frequently. Someone asks me how old my children are and when I mention my teenage daughter the response is often, “My condolences,” or “I’m sorry,” or “Can I get you a glass of wine?”
I’m writing this today to ask of you: please stop expressing your condolences that I have a teenage daughter. I’m not the least bit sorry or upset about it.
Yes, she sometimes rolls her eyes or uses “that tone.” Occasionally, when I ask her to help me to unload the dishwasher she replies, “No thanks, I’m good.” My daughter some times does these things, but these things do not define her. Look past the occasional eye rolls, dramatic interludes, and the ear buds that seem to have taken up permanent residence in her ears and you will see that my teenage daughter is not someone who needs apologizing for. She is, in fact, nothing short of amazing.
Diagnosed with an anxiety disorder in first grade, my now 14-year-old is one of the bravest and strongest people I know. Every morning, she gets out of bed knowing that at some point during the day she will need to battle an inner demon and she knows there is a chance she won’t win. Yet, every morning, she gathers her courage, puts on her emotional armor, and goes to school. Do you remember middle school? Not exactly a nurturing haven of emotional safety nets (even at her tiny private school there is a fair amount of middle school drama and kids who say mean things). Nevertheless, she persists.
My teenage daughter is fierce. She is a self-proclaimed feminist and social justice warrior who is forging her own path in the world. She has relevant and informed opinions about issues impacting our town, our country, and our planet. She will stand up for people if she thinks they are being treated unfairly – even if they are someone my daughter considers to be, in her words, “a butt.”
My teenage daughter is developing a strong sense of self. She has no interest in wearing something because someone else is wearing it and, so far, she thinks peer pressure is “stupid.” She is authentic and real and won’t apologize for being an independent thinker or outspoken young lady. She is unapologetically her own person and we encourage her to be just that.
My teenage daughter is interesting. She reads books and asks questions and is curious about the world. And yes, occasionally, halfway through my answer to a question she has just posed to me she will completely stop listening. She is, after all, still a teenager. She is still learning. But I’m an adult and I’m still learning too. Sometimes, I roll my eyes and use “that tone,” and overreact to a frustrating but inconsequential situation. Where do you suppose they learn that behavior to begin with?
It seems to me that women already apologize far more than necessary, sometimes, merely for existing. Do we really need to exacerbate that problem by apologizing for teenage girls even being a thing? Again, I can’t speak for anybody else’s teenage daughter but I suspect that if you look past the eye rolls, and the obnoxious tone of voice and the drama that sometimes accompanies them you will find that there is a lot of complex, beautiful, and amazing stuff going on right under the surface.
So, if I mention that I have a teenage daughter, ask me how she’s doing or what she’s involved with or what her opinion is on a $15 minimum wage (she does actually have an opinion on that) but please, do not apologize.