I am a father of future teenage daughters.

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Just after my wife found out she was pregnant, we had the following exchange:

“I hope it’s a boy,” said my wife.

“Why?” I asked. “I don’t know if I could live up to the expectations of being father to a boy. I don’t hunt, fish, or play sports. We’d be destined to have a nerd.”

“Better a nerd boy than a teenage girl,” said my wife. “I was a teenage girl and it was horrible. If we have a girl, we’re leaving her at the hospital.”

“Um,” I said.

Things have turned around since then. Even before we found out that we were going to have a girl, my wife started secretly hoping for one. And now, our hopes have been answered by not one but two girls.

I can’t imagine my family any other way. I love my girls madly.

And yet…

There remains the fact that they will someday become teenage girls. I have mixed feelings on this. From the observations I’ve made since becoming a father, teenage girls are strange creatures. They can be awkward and self-absorbed, annoying and without any sense of propriety. In fact, they have probably always been like this since Adam and Eve spawned their first strange relations for Cain and his brothers.

But for as many examples as there are of selfie-shooting gum-chewers, there are always a few polite girls that make me think, “Their parents did something right.”

But what did they do? Seriously, help me out here. I’ve only got a decade to steer my girls along the narrow path of healthy body images, proper manners, and respect for her fellow humans. I’d like to think that I’m doing things right, but that may just be a parent’s fallacy.

So, if you are a female and you think you managed your teenage years without any serious emotional (or physical) scars, what made that the case? What did your parents do or not do to equip you for a successful future?

And if my girls are destined, despite my best efforts, to become everything that annoys me about teenage girls, how do I overcome that?

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3 responses to “I am a father of future teenage daughters.

  1. The teenage years can be bumpy. As the mom of two daughters, 20 & 17, the best advice I can give you is to let them know you will always be their biggest advocate and that they are great just the way they are. My mom said something to me when I was in middle school that has served me well as a parent – “don’t peak at 11.” When the mean girl stage sets in, it’s important to point out to your girls that for some people, the year they are 11 is going to be the best year of their lives. For others, 18 is the best year of their lives. I’ve tried to impress upon my girls that they are in control of how they experience their lives and to keep striving to make every year better than the last.

  2. Speak to your cousin Joy, she’s a decade ahead of you, and may be able to highlight some of the pitfalls. But you need to know now that the tween-age years of 9-13 are just as bad as the teenage years. Most of it is like pimples, it’s just due to drastic hormonal shifts, and the need to stretch the bungee cord out as safely as it can be. I’d give you a fishing analogy, but you don’t fish. LOL.

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