Sometimes parenting teenagers isn’t about the big stuff. Sometimes as parents we don’t know the answers to the small questions either. This week’s Safe space blogging post is from a mum in exactly that position.
My daughter is 13, so I have been parenting a girl for 13 years. I should know a lot about girls. Certainly more than someone who has, for example, a 6 year old daughter. But I have two older boys and it’s always felt like I’m playing catch-up with parenting my daughter. Even though I was a girl myself, the difference seem a bit of a mystery to me. (And there really are differences between boys and girls, whatever some people would like to believe.)
I first noticed my daughter had hair under her armpits last summer. And then it disappeared. I guessed she must have trimmed it with scissors.
Her legs were a little bit hairy, but she had far less hairs than I’d had as a child and her hairs were fair, whereas my own had been black. She never seemed bothered about them and I was quite proud of her for that. Shaving legs is one of life’s great hassles, so if she didn’t need to do it, why should she?
A few weeks ago, I noticed the armpit hairs were back. My husband noticed them too and said I should speak to her about it – in a nice way and just to offer to let her use my razor. As it happened, I’d had the same thoughts myself, but I’d concluded I wouldn’t speak to her because I didn’t want to be pushing society’s norms onto her at such a young age.
I know that women in their late teens and 20s have everything removed – because I’ve seen them on TV, on the internet and in magazines. But I don’t know about younger girls. I’m aware there is a bit of movement for being more natural and maybe not removing as much hair, or any hair at all.
I didn’t want to be the one to tell my daughter that hair on your body is somehow ‘wrong’ or that society will judge you for having it. Body hair is a personal choice – some people remove all of it, some people remove some of it, some people only remove it in summer and some people don’t remove any of it.
But a couple of days later, I didn’t need to think about it any more, because my daughter messaged me to ask if it would be OK if she started shaving her legs and armpits. In a house full of men, she finds texting can be a useful way to ask me about more personal things she doesn’t feel comfortable with them overhearing. Of course I said that was absolutely fine and said that she could borrow my razor.
I thought it was very sweet that she had asked me. I just nicked my dad’s razor when I was about her age and cut my legs. Then lied to my mum about the cuts, even though she knew perfectly well where they had come from. Teenagers do tend to think their parents were born yesterday.
Hair removal for teenage girls is only a small issue, but it’s one of those things you never think of having to deal with when you have a baby. I would be interested to hear in the comments what others’ experiences have been with teenage daughters and hair removal.
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