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Children / Humor / Teens/Tweens

Teenage daughters vex Dad

Having raised teenage girls, studied them and even having written a book about them, I still don’t know what they are for.

My suspicion is that teenage daughters are a father’s punishment for having once been a teenage boy. This doesn’t seem fair to me, but then again, my concept of the word “fair” may have been distorted by the way my daughters used it between the ages of 12 and 20 — what I call the “war years.” It seems that teenage girls have a vocabulary all their own.

The phrase “no fair” means “I don’t like it.” Most often it is heard in response to a very reasonable parental observation, such as, “No, you can’t go to a concert in the next state and spend the night in a hotel with people I don’t know and who are therefore most likely hardened criminals.”

“No fair!” the teenage girl cries — or, alternately, “that is so not fair!” In case you don’t get the message, the teenager might stomp her foot, sob out loud, slam and lock the door to her bedroom or send angry “tweets” so that all of her friends are updated on the news that her father is so not fair.

She might go further and explain why you are not fair, which can basically be boiled down to a list of your faults. You are “unreasonable,” meaning you’re asking reasonable questions, such as, “Where are you going to get the money to pay for this high-risk venture?” You “never listen,” which means you’ve repeatedly ignored her request to borrow money for what you’ve started thinking of as “The Road Trip To Doom That Will Happen Over My Dead Body.” You are “mean” to remind her that her grades aren’t what they should be — that’s “irrelevant,” meaning “something she doesn’t want to talk about.”

When she says, “Mom said I could go,” she is telling you that her mother said “ask your father.” When you remain resolutely “unfair,” she’ll point out that “all of her friends are going,” which simply means that in living rooms all over town, fathers are listening to this same ridiculous appeal. Fathers should sign up for Twitter so they can text to each other: “My daughter wants me 2 pay 4 her 2 travel 400 miles 2 attend a rock concert with serial killers LOL.”

When teenage girls get to be older, they seem to realize that shouting “I hate you I hate you” from the other side of a slammed door has thus far proved to be an ineffective method of persuasion. After all, no father has ever knocked on the door and said, “Honey? Your vile screaming has won me over. If you really hate me, then, yes, you have my permission to drive off with a couple of irresponsible friends and wind up the subject of a crime show about missing women.”

It’s as if she’s developed something similar to and yet oddly completely the opposite of maturity. Instead of launching her nuclear arsenal, she will suddenly turn cute. Her voice will be submissive, her eyes as round and soft as a panda’s. “Daddy,” she’ll implore quietly, “couldn’t I please go? Please?” (If she’s going for the kill, she might say “please please please please please?”

This just makes you sad, because you realize that your little girl, the daughter who was the center of your universe for so many years, is still inside this near-woman standing before you, only she’s being held prisoner, locked up like Rapunzel.

Stronger men than you have broken down at this point, but usually the effect of this emotional global warming is to melt you only to the point where you offer a wonderful compromise. “How about I drive you?” you suggest perkily. “I’ll even drop you off at the concert, so you don’t have to worry about parking! You and your little friends can stay in your own room, I’ll be across the hall!” (Across the hall where I can watch your door through my peephole, you mean, but you don’t have to tell her this.)

“What? I’m sure! I can’t go to the concert with my Dad,” she’ll reply, shrieking.

Translation? You’re not being “fair.”

Contact W. Bruce Cameron at For his previous columns, visit /brucecameron.

Mile High Mamas
Author: Mile High Mamas

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  1. “…teenage daughters are a father’s punishment for having once been a teenage boy.”

    When my tween becomes a teen, I’m going to remember to blame her father for all that’s not “fair.”

    Thanks for the translations. Going 2 need em.

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