- DD3 = Dear Third Daughter
- DH = Dear Husband
When children become teenagers . . .
That’s my youngest up there – DD3 – when she was still a pre-schooler. At the time that photo was taken, I could not imagine her as a seventeen-year-old wanting a nose piercing. But that’s what happens, all you people with cute little children. They grow up! And the teen years can be . . . special.
Mr. Money Beagle wrote a post this past week on what his children have taught him about finances. His son and daughter, aged 6 and 4, are saving up for Lego and a Disney trip (That girl dreams big!) respectively, and they’re already showing signs of financial wisdom. As I read his post, I thought about my youngest and her decision to get a nose piercing, and I found myself feeling surprisingly proud of her.
DD3 and money
DD3 was thirteen-years old when DH and I began our journey out of debt in June of 2012, and she has witnessed a lot of money talk through her teen years. With a mother who was newly determined to change her old thought pattern of “money-spent-on-children = love”, DD3 got “No” as an answer more regularly than her older sisters did at her age. “No, we won’t be stopping at Tim Hortons. We can eat a snack at home.” “No, we won’t get your clothes from that store. It’s too expensive.” “No, we won’t buy you those concert tickets. You’ll have to save your allowance.”
She actually took every “No” in stride – and learned from it. She wasn’t afraid to say “No” herself when friends were going to movies or restaurants. She learned to shop mindfully. The next time she wanted to go to a concert, she had saved enough to be able to pay for her ticket. And when she started to work part-time at a grocery store last August, she adopted the habit, of her own volition, of putting away at least 50% of each pay.
Where to draw the line for teens?
“I want to get my nose pierced,” DD3 told me a few days ago. She said it with a hint of “I’m old enough to do what I want” sass, but I could tell she was interested in knowing what my reaction would be.
One of the toughest things about being a parent of teens is to discern “the line” – the one that can’t be crossed – the one that says, “It’s time to intervene and lay down the law!” That line definitely exists, but it’s a moving target, and it varies according to the teen in question. If it’s drawn too severely, the consequences can be just as bad as when it’s not drawn at all. A colleague once told me of a girl from his town whose parents had given her what he considered an overly strict Christian upbringing. “And then I saw her Frosh Week after she’d moved away to go to university. She was absolutely blitzed – walking down the street completely naked.” She turned out alright in the end, he said. But he was convinced that the nude, drunken stroll was a direct reaction against the too limiting lines that had been drawn by her parents.
So was this a time for me to draw the line? “I’d vote ‘no’ if I had a vote,” I wrote in my comment for Mr. Money Beagle’s post. He responded with, “Well, you do have a ‘vote’ at least until she’s 18, no?” Very true, but I think that what I really meant was that I’d vote ‘no’ if I chose to vote. And in the end, I chose not to.
“You can get one if you want,” I said to DD3. “I won’t stop you.” She became more direct in trying to get me to say my opinion. “Do you think I should?” she asked. I told her truthfully that I didn’t like the idea. “Well, I’ve been thinking about it for over a month, and I’m going to do it,” she boldly maintained – perhaps somewhat glad that I was against it – because that made her a bit of a badass.
So if I don’t really want my daughter to get a nose piercing, why do I find myself feeling proud of her? I can think of a few reasons:
- She’s thought about it seriously, and has taken her time in coming to this decision – even though she can easily afford it.
- She has shown independence in taking the initiative to arrange for the piercing – including setting up the appointment and figuring out the bus there and back.
- She’s not doing it to get anyone’s approval. She’s doing it because she “wants change” – and she thinks she has the right nose for it.
- She likes being able to exercise the power that her good financial management gives her.
My daughter is not breaking the law or compromising her character. And she’s growing up. I’m glad that she’s careful, independent, unique, and powerful. Isn’t that exactly what I’ve always wanted for her? Ever since she was a little girl? Her job is not to march to the beat of my drum, but to figure out what hers is, and to march to it. So I’m proud – because many good things are in evidence here. And it’s fine that they’re all being represented by the bold sass – that doesn’t, after all, cross a line – of a nose piercing.
Where do you think parents should “draw the line” for their teens? Do you remember feeling financial power as a teen? Your comments are welcome.