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Teen Talk

December 29, 2012

On the Go: Teens need to be able to assert their independence

Recently I saw the story of Willow Smith cutting her hair short.

I enjoyed her mother’s response to the question, “Why’d you let Willow cut her hair?” Her mom explained that she didn’t “let” Willow cut her hair. She continued to speak about empowering little girls to realize that only they own their body and their life. 

I agree with her 100 percent. No authority figure should be able to control another person’s life. I’m not saying these roles are unnecessary; quite the opposite, actually. My question is how can a person grow up to be herself when her formidable years were spent under tyranny?

I’ve always been recalcitrant. I can probably attribute that to my upbringing, and I’m so thankful. When I was about 12 I remember my dad explaining to me that you should never ask to go somewhere. If you tell the authority figure you’re going, you are eliminating that person’s chance to deliberate. It’s your time and your decision. 

I’ve learned to make my own choices, but I also have learned to take responsibility for my life by doing my own laundry, packing my own lunch, and managing my own money. 

I’m not, however, exceptionally disrespectful, no more than any other teenager. Respect and independence are not opposites. I try to be in control of my own life. A parent should be there to help the child, not to take away rights or to squash independence. 

When I tell a teacher I’m going to the bathroom, I’m not disrespecting him; I’m respecting myself. A student who asks to go to the bathroom is not in control of her own bladder. I don’t see how this empowers children to see their inherent dignity. At school, children must ask permission to perform simple bodily functions. I happen to think using the bathroom when you please is an inalienable right that I’ve been endowed with.

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