"I'm mostly a puddle."
December 2, 2017 10:12 AM   Subscribe

Raising a Teenage Daughter, by Elizabeth Weil. With comments and corrections by Hannah W. Duane.
posted by zarq (23 comments total) 57 users marked this as a favorite
*shakes fist*
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:24 AM on December 2, 2017 [4 favorites]

The comment above includes hover text expressing that tmotat wanted to post this, fyi.
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 10:35 AM on December 2, 2017 [3 favorites]

I'm surprised by how much the running commentary by Hannah improves this.
posted by jklaiho at 10:44 AM on December 2, 2017 [25 favorites]

"I have never heard this story before. So glad you aired it out here, Mom."
posted by The corpse in the library at 11:29 AM on December 2, 2017 [6 favorites]

zarq--thank you. I needed to read this. In trying to fix a bunch of inter-generational dynamics, I've divested myself of a lot of the armor, or maybe tools, that other parents in my family have used. It feels vulnerable, and I wonder a lot about how my daughter (just 10) can have faith in someone who says "I don't know" and "I'm afraid for you in this world" and "You are so fierce." But holy shit, she is that--whip-smart and witty and present and so perceptive about the emotional currents of most given situations. She's giving puberty the side-eye, worried about getting her period and having hormonal tides and growing breasts, and she asks questions of me that I never would have asked my mother (never would have thought to ask, never would have been brave enough to ask). Last night, I was explaining about women's button-up shirts and the boob gap, and she sighed and said, "Ugh, boob gap, that's the worst gap for women. I mean, besides the pay gap." And I just roared! Who is this little person, and how did she get to be so...so much of a person? I have some envy, too, because it comes to her so easily, so robustly, this sense of self that I had to fight for; it has flourished in her, and I share Weil's anxiety that the world (partners, bad unwanted sex, sexists and entitled catcallers, and on and on) might seize this from her, make her feel small and ashamed and un-selfed. So I've taught her about boundaries and consent and how to say "I'm going to finish what I was saying." She swears inventively and at the right moments. Please, world: Don't break my baby. Let her be safe. And strong.
posted by MonkeyToes at 11:29 AM on December 2, 2017 [81 favorites]

Hannah is a lot less snide than I was at her age. I commend her.
posted by Squeak Attack at 11:35 AM on December 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

That kid looks amazingly strong, and is obviously a very formidable person in general.

You'd have to be pretty happy with yourself if you managed to raise somebody like that.

And I think 15 years is too young to develop an appreciation of this, but her mother (and her father) are demonstrating for her, and us, the great power to be found in true emotional vulnerability.
posted by jamjam at 11:39 AM on December 2, 2017 [3 favorites]

Hannah is a really impressive young woman. I hope that a few years from now my daughters show the strength, wisdom, idealism, humility, and insight that her comments reveal.
posted by nickmark at 11:48 AM on December 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

"Are you exaggerating? I think you're probably exaggerating."

Hannah reminds me very much of the resident teenager, about whom I'd like to echo MonkeyToes's entire comment. Most of the time I feel like a fake adult messing up at parenting her more than I get it right, but this kid knows herself and is ready to fly.
posted by Flannery Culp at 11:59 AM on December 2, 2017

As far as you can tell from the responses, she sounds like a really self-reflective and -aware person. Teenagers are often horrible to be around, but she seems like she is on a good path.
posted by Dip Flash at 12:07 PM on December 2, 2017

MonkeyToes- your daughter is partly the way she is because you gave her those tools. Give your bad ass self some credit.
It is indeed sad that we never knew that kind of freedom but there is such a ferocious pride for me in knowing that my girl will be living in a different world than I did because her mind and her life, everything, is being mapped in a completely different way.
posted by TorchtheWitch at 12:29 PM on December 2, 2017 [5 favorites]

Is there any way to read Hannah's comments that is less annoying? I need to click on the green highlight each time, then click on the x button in the top left to close it each time (esc doesn't work to close it)? This is really terrible design, bad enough to make me not want to finish the interesting article.
posted by jeather at 12:39 PM on December 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

jeather, clicking anywhere outside the text closes it for me.
posted by ambrosen at 12:46 PM on December 2, 2017 [3 favorites]

I saw Lady Bird (which was wonderful) last night, and this was the perfect chaser to that.
posted by lunasol at 1:00 PM on December 2, 2017 [3 favorites]

I love this so much, I wish every article about parenting were annotated this way. It's much more of a two-way street than we realize. Or perhaps want to admit.
posted by lollymccatburglar at 2:19 PM on December 2, 2017 [5 favorites]

I am the father of fifteen-year-old and a nine-year-old girls and I feel excited, afraid, anxious, and sad all of the time. I also feel that their generation may be the best thing to happen to the world in a while, and that gives me hope for the future.

I enjoyed the article. This was a good post. Thank you for sharing it.
posted by 4ster at 2:23 PM on December 2, 2017 [3 favorites]

The comments from Hannah completely transformed this article from a semi-forgettable "parenting-touch-base" article into something way more interesting. I'm surprised (and maybe surprised at how surprised I am) at how much depth it adds to the piece.
posted by maxwelton at 2:56 PM on December 2, 2017 [5 favorites]

the commentary is good but that's just what a nice smart teen sounds like (they're all individuals, of course of course, but that's what they sound like. this one is above average but even average is pretty good.) but the piece itself was really startling and sweet.

because everybody writes stuff about their daughters and most of it is either fawning and worshipful in a way that is ultimately dehumanizing and demeaning in the way that putting girls on pedestals always is (who is this slim, faun-like creature that somehow emerged from my womb, how does she move through the world with such grace, such confidence, how did I lose it, where is my innocence) or smug and patronizing in a way that is just as bad (aren't we all dumb stupid idiots at 15, we think we're people but we are just greasy bags of hormones, p.s. girls are fragile)

and this piece has a little trace of both of those -- puddles and crop tops and all that business -- but a lot less than most. zero would be ideal but you do what you can. it's very friendly and respectful and I like that. smart reasonable adult women who are mothers are as hard to find in pieces like this as smart teenagers. even sometimes smart mothers don't write themselves that way, for various reasons. so I am pleased that this one did.
posted by queenofbithynia at 3:27 PM on December 2, 2017 [8 favorites]

This - especially the comments - was delightful, thank you. One part made me think:

‘But when I consider what truly worries me, I worry about her getting hurt through sex.’

...I know that this is a common sentiment of parents but I wonder if it is justified. Is ‘sex’ (or rather, how they leverage and use it in relation to others) the thing we should be worrying about when it comes to our daughters? I know (even though I’ve experienced what would qualify as sexual assault a couple times), as a woman, what has hurt me more in the long term was misogynist bullying, not being heard, being underestimated, diminished job prospects in the fields I found interesting, being underpaid, collective devaluing of the (care) work I do now, male entitlement to judge my life choices and body, lack of medical care for ‘female’ problems...hell, so many things. I’m wondering how to think and talk about this regarding my daughters. Crop tops seem easy, in comparison.
posted by The Toad at 3:37 PM on December 2, 2017 [11 favorites]

abrosen: jeather, clicking anywhere outside the text closes it for me.

I think that clicking to the left or right of the text, but not directly above or below it, closes the modal window.
posted by James Scott-Brown at 3:50 PM on December 2, 2017

There's an "x" that shows up at the top left of the text overlay on mobile.
posted by zarq at 4:38 PM on December 2, 2017

God, I hope having a toddler isn't just like having a teen. By the time the Littlest Naberius reaches her teenage years, I'm really hoping she'll have realized - if perhaps not fully accepted - that gravity actually does apply to her whether she has affirmatively consented to it or not.

On the other hand, at that age it will probably no longer be practical (or attractive to her) to climb up into my lap while I'm sitting on the floor with my back against the couch and do back flips over my knees, then do it over and over again, giggling like a little maniac all the while. And that makes me quite wistful and sad, and it's way too early for that.
posted by Naberius at 8:16 PM on December 2, 2017 [2 favorites]

So I'm teaching a class of kids a little older than mine, and it has been interesting to find out that constant smartassery and rules-lawyering is not, in fact, his own personal style (or is not just that) but pretty common amongst that age set. I kept having deja-vu, but also, felt like a badass because my argumentative child has taught me many useful ways to argue back/get past obstinate smartassery. I saw the surprise in a few kid's eyes when I had an effective riposte.

Which is nice, because the constant arguing with my kid also makes me nuts sometimes. At least I'm getting something out of it.

He's already well into the hormonal curve, and he's both completely oblivious and horribly sensitive to everything, so you never get your footing under you. Whatever you do, it will probably be wrong.

I like the girl's comebacks in the article, but they also made me wince a little in their ruthlessness. I guess it's necessary to be that way to differentiate yourself and finish growing up, but ouch.
posted by emjaybee at 8:35 PM on December 3, 2017

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