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A Letter to My Daughter


I know that you’re angry with me because I won’t let you watch Glee or read The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner. In a few years, or maybe in a few decades you’ll recognize that I love you enough to hold your eleventh year sacred.

I know that other moms let their daughters watch Glee. I don’t care. I’m not raising Joan, Melissa or Sandy, I’m raising you, and Los Angeles can be a crummy place to raise a kid. I’m pretty sure that in high school at least one of your friends will get pregnant. You may or may not ever know about it. I’m fairly certain you’ll have at least one gay friend, and at least one more that you’ll be surprised to find out was gay.

Parents will divorce, some will remarry. Some have already been to rehab, still others will die.

There will be roadblocks to success, and ugly dead ends where you thought happiness would be. You will live Glee, you don’t need to watch it. Jane, all of this can wait. You’re eleven. Eleven is good.

These are your last minutes of childhood. You’re a blink away from being a teen, you’re the big kid at school, doting on the little ones in Kindergarten and tutoring the second grade girls. You’ll be a woman before you know it, and I’ll be damned if you can’t remember being a child because I allowed you to bypass it.

I don’t know how much you’ll remember being eleven. I’m guessing it will be easier to recall than being ten, nine or eight. I won’t let you look back on your childhood, and have it willfully peppered with adult activities.

So I’m sorry that you’ll have to be the only kid who doesn’t watch Glee, and the only girl who doesn’t read about homeless teenage prostitutes. Jane, I’ve been eleven. You’re not the only kid whose mom says no.


31 thoughts on “A Letter to My Daughter”

  1. And my daughter was almost the only fourth-grader last year who hadn’t yet seen “Twilight.” I am 1000% with you on preserving as much of the innocence of childhood as possible in this whacked-out culture.

  2. I have a seven year old….and find holding onto her childhood increasingly difficult every day. But it is worth it. One day your Jane and my Katarina will thank us.

  3. I am happy you care enough for your daughter to make that choice and write this letter here to share with others. I’m praying for you and your daughter as I know parenting is not easy and understanding for an 11 year old girl with the pressures of the world all around her can be very hard.

  4. I can so relate! I was 11 and in 6th grade when the original 90210 premiered. EVERYONE and I mean EVERYONE was allowed to watch. My parents forbid it, as well as reading teenage magazines like 17, and the coveted YM.
    Now that I am 30 and the new 90210 premiered (and dammit I watch it just because I CAN, even though its awful,) I called my mother and thanked her, and apologized for all the fits I threw! I have 5 year old twin girls and can’t possibly think that at 11 I would let them watch that trash!
    P.S. I went to the GLEE tour this year and couldn’t believe the amount of young (like 5, 6, 7) year olds there mouthing all the words and gyrating to the music.
    Congrats on holding onto your little girl just a bit longer!

  5. i wasnt allowed to watch MTV….and i didnt see Top Gun till I was 25. My Dh said his parents banned “cant do that on television” from Nick Jr.

    I think you gotta do what you gotta do.


  6. Spot on! Until I had my own daughter 2 years ago, I spent many years as a sexual health nurse at (a small college town) Planned Parenthood. Every month I dealt with so many 11 year old not-yet-sexually-active girls who wanted to get birth control “just to be ready”. Even more heartbreaking were the 11 year olds who came in for STD screening from “consentual” sex. They spanned all races and socioeconomic brackets. Some girls came from chaotic home situations, some didn’t. When I would talk to them, I found that the one common denominator seemed to be the emulation of hypersexualized media.

    After my kid was born, we killed the tv, and almost all mainstream commercial influences. We check our own behaviors constantly. Now it is easy. As she gets older, I can’t imagine the things we will have to face.

    Forgive me if you have already seen this:

    Take care!

  7. When my sister and I were growing up there were a lot of things we weren’t allowed to watch on TV and our friends did. We didn’t even have cable! I always felt like my parents cared about me more because they were sheltering me from things that were clearly inappropriate for me to see at that age. So way to go, mom. She’ll get it someday.

  8. As the father of a seven yr old daughter, I agree so much this. She is already getting ahead of herself and trying to be an ‘adult’. My Wife and I are trying everything we can to make sure she can enjoy her childhood and have plenty of chances to just be a kid. That is what this age is all about.

    Great post.

  9. When I tell the story tomorrow it will be more like “My friend Jessica doesn’t let her 11 year old watch Glee OR read Bree either! See? Some other mothers agree that Glee is age inappropriate. Aside from past your bedtime.”

  10. Very nice letter. The line that rang the most true to me was “You will live Glee, you don’t need to watch it.” How true! I’ve told you before that I’m not a mom… yet… but you are a great example of a mom who makes rational decisions!

  11. I <3 Glee so much. But my daughter cannot watch it. Are you freaking kidding me? She's 10. There is no need for her to find out there is such a thing as teenage pregnancy, not to mention the downright meanness that goes on in that show. Sure the songs are fantastic, but that's what iTunes is for. Blow your allowance on ninety-nine cent Madonna covers all you want my little darling, but watching Glee is just not in the cards for you. Neither is PG-13 movies, The Simpsons, or reading Twilight (no matter how many Taylor Lautner posters you have on your wall). Sorry. One day you'll thank me. (You're welcome!)

    Great post Jessica. You're a great mom!

  12. I hope I can stick to my guns when my daughter is 11. I was allowed to do/watch/say whatever I wanted to and by high school, I was already making mistakes I couldn’t fix. It wasn’t until I became a mom that I realized how disappointed I was in mine. Be proud – you’re doing it the right way.

  13. Good for you. A quote I try to live by is, “Good parenting is doing what is right instead of what is easy.” It totally came to mind when I read your letter. My kids are much younger but I hope I can follow your example of preserving every moment of their fleeting childhoods.

  14. You have restored my faith in America! Why is this show on at 8pm? My 5 year old grand-daughter is allowed to watch Glee and I am horrified. When a show starts out with a cucumber and a condemn and people dancing and singing touch me where and pulling down their blouses to expose their boobs I don’t think it is appropriate for any kids and shouldn’t be on TV until at least 10pm. Has everyone stopped being a parent? Where have our morals gone?

  15. Great article! I love your truthfulness and sincerity and of course your willingness to be a “mean mom” instead of a BFF!

  16. I love this letter, Jessica. It’s something I see myself writing to Sammi when she’s older and more stubborn that she is now at 16 months.

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