What a Girl Wants
By Leslie Sarmiento
My daughter is thirteen. Enough said, right? No, not really.
While I approach that age with some trepidation, I must admit that at this point, the changes I’ve seen in her demeanor and in her behavior have not been horrific. I am, however, constantly reminded of how fast she’s growing up. How I miss the girl who wanted to be exactly like me, who thought my ideas were the best, who allowed me to make all the decisions! It started years before she turned thirteen, the day she wanted to grow out her bangs. Soon after, she wanted to pick out her own outfits. Before I knew what was happening, she had a firm opinion on what color we should paint her bedroom, and it was quite a far cry from what I had in mind.
Of course, none of this comes as a surprise, but it’s a tricky thing, walking that fine line between “protective mom” who wants to keep her daughter safe, and “supportive mom,” who wants her daughter to become independent, and able to fearlessly engage the world. My stomach is in a constant knot, just trying to keep my balance on the tightrope, and praying that I don’t fall off one way or the other.
What I should remember, is that my daughter is also trying to balance on her own precarious tightrope, at that age when everything is so heightened, emotionally. When a pimple is HUGE, and a casual comment from a boy can be devastating. When social media offers a thousand ways to make a girl feel “less than.”
Yes, she needs boundaries, and at thirteen, she should not be oblivious to the concept of consequences for crossing them. But I’ve learned, that beyond giving her the foundation to make good choices, my job is also to be in tune with what choices she is ready to make. Should I allow her to paint her room purple? Absolutely! Should she have a social media account? Not quite yet.
Here’s the thing: she has yet to develop that instinctive knot in her gut, the one that keeps her balanced on the rope. Until she does, I guess we’ll both have to rely on mine.