Letter to the teenage daughter I wish I had


(I have three awesome sons but I've always wanted a daughter, too. If I had had one, here's what I would say to her now.)

Dear daughter,

WOW - have you grown up. It's like I can't even remember when you were a little girl. Now you are sorting out the world of school, friends, boys, sex, career plans, and eventually marriage? Motherhood?

It's a confusing time with lots of pressure and messages about what you should be doing. And I know I've given you plenty of advice already but I hope you are open to a little more. There are some tough challenges you are facing and I - well - as your mother, am worried for you.

First, let's talk about how the massive media marketing machine is plotting to make you a caricature of your actual, fully-individual, completely fine, smart, thoughtful self. They want to simplify you and all your girlfriends into a massive buying bloc that cares only about your looks, clothes, and status. Not that they haven't always tried to make you insecure only to sell you the answer to your self-esteem but these days it's pretty brutal.

And they have no conscience about going after your very little sisters either. Making you all feel like your bodies, your clothes, your personalities are not good enough - I just hope you don't fall for this trap. You are awesome and beautiful. Dream bigger of your contribution to this world.

Second, What is with all the 'mean girl' stuff that's going on? Treating others like dirt, ignoring them, making fun of them, posting terrible things on line, spreading rumors – Ow!

I hope that you aren't doing this or just standing by and not saying anything. And even though I am holding out hope that your friends (and non-friends) just aren't thinking when they do this kind of damage - I can only imagine that they have a lot of hate inside which is why they keep spreading it to others.

Of course I REALLY hope - that if someone treats you badly you will A.) Not think this is about you; B.) Stand up for yourself and maybe get better friends; C.) Not use it as an excuse to do your own damage; D.) Tell me or someone before it gets out of hand.

Third, the promiscuity thing. I am not a prude but this girls gone wild, friends-with-benefits, 'putting out' trend is sad to see. Is this really what your generation wants? Cheap connection? Being used and using others without deeper caring?

Even while some of your peers are of the mindset that 'this is my body and I'll do what I want with it', research says that many of you are going along because you don't feel like you can get the guy the old-fashioned way. And I do feel for you there. The world is moving very fast and it expects you to keep up and not only not say NO but initiate 'yes' to begin with.

I hope you reconsider this approach. I'm not asking you to go back to the Victorian Era - but please think about raising both your consciousness and your standards. Don't let others decide your choices for you (except me of course).

But seriously make wise choices. Ones that make you feel good about yourself - today, tomorrow, on facebook, in cyberspace and in the future. Consider how you dress and how you act and what you are willing to do and give up just to get a guy or be popular today.

I remember a turning point on my path to womanhood when a friend actually called me on how I was letting a guy treat to me. It helped me see that I had to stand up for myself and have self-respect first before anything else good was going to happen.

This is what I would like to pass on to you. You're out of my sight for much of your life now, I hope that while you are out there you choose the path that takes you to the amazing woman you are meant to be.

I love you,

~ ~ ~

Annie Zirkel, LPC is a Parenting Consultant, Workshop Presenter and Author based in Ann Arbor, Mi. She has three wonderful sons - whom she hopes will find their own amazing woman partners someday. Contact her at annie@practicehow.com