My Daughter Is a Junior: I’m Not Pressuring Her to Figure Out What’s Next

My daughter was born with a very quiet soul. When she was almost three, I took her to the doctor because she didn’t talk a lot. As I spoke to her pediatrician, she said, “Addison (her older brother) talks for me.” That was the longest sentence she’d ever said, and the doctor looked at me and said, “Oh, she’s going to be just fine.”

teen girl on phone
I’m not putting pressure on my daughter to have her life figured out. (Twenty20)

When her older brother was three and she was one, she decided she wanted to use the potty like him. She didn’t talk about it, of course. She simply started ripping off her diapers and using the toilet. And when that same brother learned how to swim when he was in the second grade and she hadn’t even taken swimming lessons yet, she watched him one day at the beach as he did the doggie paddle. Then, she spent the entire rest of the day standing in the water trying to mimic him. It took her three hours but by the time we left, my little lady could swim. 

There is so much pressure on Juniors

Now that she is reaching the end of her Junior year of high school, everyone is asking her where she’s going to go to school and what she wants to do next. I should say everyone except for me — I hate the pressure our society puts on our teenagers to have things figured out as soon as they turn seventeen. While I know some kids already know exactly what they want to do and I think that’s great, there are a lot of kids who need a minute to think about what feels right.

My daughter isn’t sure what she wants to do next. One day she wants to be a lawyer. Next, she wants to work with service animals. And next week, we are going to visit a cosmetology school which is something she’s been talking about since she was ten.

My daughter has time to make her own decision

She doesn’t have to make a decision this year or even next year if she’s not ready. I’d rather have her wait and take some time off from school and work if she’s still completely undecided. The pressure for her to quickly figure it out isn’t something I am going to push on her. I know that if I pressure her, it’s going to influence her too much and I’m letting her set her own pace by giving her the room to make her own decisions.

I’ve tried pushing her into things in the past and it never went well. When she wanted to stop playing basketball, I made her try out the following year anyway and she sat down the entire time and was practically in tears. I tried to get her to dress up more when we went places and she’d be miserable-she loves her sweatpants and leggings and that’s when she feels most comfortable.

The more I rush my daughter to make a decision, the longer she takes. I literally can’t think of one time when my trying to make her hurry up and decide on something worked. We once spent the afternoon at the mall looking for the perfect homecoming dress and I tried to talk her into a dress I loved but she didn’t. She ended up shutting down and we left with nothing.

It was a horrible afternoon and I’ve regretted it ever since. I refuse to take that kind of gamble with her future. 

I can still support her in her journey by listening to her when she talks to me about her future, presenting her with different options, and letting her know it’s okay to take her time. This is her life, not mine. We move at different speeds and paces. I know my daughter will figure it all out when she’s good and ready and I’m not worried about the timeline society has set for her. 

My daughter doesn’t need to have her life figured out by high school graduation

If she doesn’t have it all figured out by graduation day, I couldn’t care less. She might not go to college, she might want to stay home and work part-time, and she might have a very specific plan. But I refuse to push her into anything she’s not comfortable with just so she can tell people who ask her what she’s doing with her life, something they want to hear. 

What my daughter wants is what’s important to me. She could go on this tour next week and decide to become a licensed cosmetologist and open her own salon when she graduates. She could decide it’s not the career path for her and it could guide her to do something else. Or, she could take another five years to decide. 

Our teenagers need to know they are allowed to take their time; they are allowed to change their minds, and they are allowed to not know what they are doing next. They aren’t robots who are in lock-step with each other programmed to know what they want to be when they grow up, by a certain age.

They are the ones who will live with their decisions and as I mom of three teenagers, I can attest to the fact that when we give them the time and space to come to a decision on their own, in their own time, they always do. 

More Great Reading:

Why Your Teen Isn’t Fully Ready for Adult Decisions at 18

About Katie BinghamSmith

Katie Bingham-Smith lives in Maine with her three kids. She is a Staff Writer at Scary Mommy, shoe addict and pays her kids to rub her feet. You can see more of her on Facebook and Instagram .

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