Letter to my tween daughter about disagreeing with me, and others

Letter to my tween daughter about disagreeing with me, and others

The last Wednesday of each month is ChicagoNow Blogapalooza when all ChicagoNow bloggers are given a topic and exactly one hour to write and publish a post on it. Tonight, the hyperorlando bloggers are joining in - the more the merrier!

Tonight's assignment: "Write a letter to someone or some entity with whom you have had a disagreement." So I'm writing a letter to my tween daughter about disagreeing with me (and others). You can see all the posts from Blogapalooza here.

Dear Tween Daughter,

I know that you disagreed with me when I made you go change out of your short shorts yesterday morning before departing for junior high. You've made it clear that you disagree with me that making your bed in the morning is worthwhile. You'd really like to have social media accounts, but I do not permit you to do so. And I'm perfectly aware that you think I am dead wrong about the amount of sugar that is healthy/safe for you to consume.

We are pretty typical, you and me. Mothers and daughters disagree. I'm going to guess that the rate at which we do so is not unusual.

I want you to know that it is normal and even healthy to disagree with me. You are finding your own way in this big, crazy, amazing world, and your path will be very different from mine. Different perspectives can lead to disagreements.

When done right, disagreements can also lead to fascinating discussions, new understanding, and respect for others.

Those, my sweet, are all elements to a fulfilling life.

To achieve them, however, disagreement must be done properly, and even carefully. And I am writing to tell you that I admire the way you disagree with me. With the exception of a few eye rolls and sighs, you are polite and not angry. You know when an impasse has been reached (something many a social media user wouldn't recognize if it smacked them square in the nose). You may not win the war, but you make your beliefs known. I don't agree with what you say, but I admire that you speak up for yourself.

I hope that as you grow, you keep the valuable skills you've already learned and that you continue to develop and refine them. Being able to kindly disagree with someone is a skill that I fear our society is letting slip away, and frankly, that scares me.

The idea of agreeing to disagree is something I've always found myself rather attached to. I love the idea that no one has to be right or wrong or give up their beliefs of position. I've learned (sometimes from interacting with angry blog commenters) that a lot of people have no use for such a concept and that makes me very sad.

Respecting people means, in part, that you understand that we are all unique. We all have different backgrounds, upbringings, and experiences, and that impacts the way we each think. Insisting that someone agree with you fails to acknowledge those very basic facts.

Allowing others to have their opinions does not mean you agree with them, it means that you are giving them space to be themselves.

My wish is that people give you the space to be yourself. I want you to be able to form your beliefs and opinions, and I want you to have the ability to defend them. May you also be granted the latitude to change them as you see fit, perhaps even after learning more about a topic, or hearing someone else's viewpoint.

It's a fine line to walk - to have firmly held thoughts but also an open mind. I'm incredibly proud that all indications are that you will be able to walk that line, to have that respect for others, and to be an amazing person.

I'm so very glad that you are my daughter, even when you disagree with me.

Sincerely,
Your mama

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