slow down

My Daughter Is 7 Going On 17 & I Don't Know How To Handle It

Bras, phones, boyfriends — she wants it all.

My daughter is seven but acts like she's a teenager.
JGI/Jamie Grill/Tetra images/Getty Images

I saw it out of the corner of my eye. “Come here,” I beckoned to my 7- year-old. She scampered right over, oblivious to the irritation in my request. “What is that?” I pointed to her shoulder, at the white bra strap sticking out from underneath her dress sleeve. She immediately crossed her arms, furrowed her brow and ran away as she does when she has no desire to be confronted.

It turns out her older friend had been wearing a training bra, so my little 7-year-old thought she needed to as well. What I didn’t know was there just so happened to be one, donated to us by her older cousin, in a pile of clothes in her room. I was at least 9 before I started wanting to wear bras. Why was my daughter already there?

I want her to slow down and hold onto her childhood because I know how fleeting it is. She wants to jump from second grade into the driver’s seat of a car, asking me over and over why she still needs a booster seat.

She wants to know why I can’t just let her have a phone. I’ve been pretty clear she and her older brother are not getting one any time before the age of 13. And yet, day in and day out, she will request one, just to see if today will be the day I cave. Can I really survive six more years of her persistence?

She is my youngest child, my only daughter. I vividly remember being a teenager myself, and the ever-fluctuating hormones and emotions that came with it. I have always wondered at what point in time I would run into these issues with my children. My 10-year-old son isn’t showing too many signs but my daughter wants to dive head first into her teenage-hood. I was the oldest, so my sister naturally was given permission to do everything I was at a much earlier age. Is that why my own daughter has interest in things that I am deeming too old for her?

She’s always talking about boyfriends. I partially blame this on the other children she plays with as some are older and their interests are changing. But in every game she plays now someone has a crush on someone, someone is dating someone. Where did the innocent play go? I try not to make a big deal of it all but sometimes I just want her to play age-appropriate games. Don’t kids play hide and seek anymore?

I know some of her behaviors are because she watches me. It is endearing to know she wants to be more like mom. She asks for make-up and for me to do her hair, and I tell her she’s beautiful the way she is. She wants to be grown, I want her to relish the carefree days of childhood. To be young again, not to be self-conscious and to live every day to the max. I admire her boisterous laugh and the way she runs wild everywhere, legs flailing with reckless abandon. Her energy never falters, I wonder if she even knows how much I adore her the way she is at this moment.

As she continues to blossom into the marvelous woman she will someday become, I know the road will be an uphill battle. She is my fierce and relentless boundary-pushing daughter. She is unstoppable in all of the best ways. But raising her may earn me a few additional gray hairs.

CJ Kelsey is a wife and mother of two and she had her family live in the metro Detroit area. She works as a physical therapist and in her spare time enjoys reading, baking and writing in her blog