By Ifeoma Aduba
Executive Director, A Woman’s Place
My daughter recently turned 15.
I know, I know. It’s so hard to believe. You can say it. “O.M.G. Ify! You don’t begin to look like you could be the mother of a 15-year-old. You’re more like sisters.”
As I said good night to my daughter on her 15th birthday, I was flooded with emotions. How many times have I kissed her goodnight and wished her sweet dreams? Has it really been 15 years? How has it all happened so fast? She will leave home soon. Have I taught her everything she needs to know? Does she know she can come to me if she needs help or is in trouble? Does she know her worth? What can I do to guarantee her safety? I want guarantees. She’s bright, beautiful, talented, compassionate, kind, and has so much to offer the world.
February is not only my daughter’s birth month. It is also Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. One in three adolescents – boys and girls – experience some form of abuse in a dating relationship. As executive director of A Woman’s Place, I know all too well that the statistics are real. I know what those odds mean for my daughter and her sister and her friends. As a parent, I long to give my daughter and other teens a bright future in which they can dream extravagantly sweet dreams instead of desperately hoping for safe ones. I know that I cannot live in fear of the odds, but instead must face them head on and courageously work to create a culture of safety and respect and empowerment in which my daughter and other teens can truly flourish.
Maybe you have a teen. Certainly, you know a teen. This month… talk to them. Talk to them about healthy relationships. Talk to them about what’s happening in their everyday lives. Talk to them about their hopes for the future. Talk to them about who they are. Talk to them about anything. Let’s work with them to create a flourishing world.
About the Author: Ifeoma U. Aduba is executive director of A Woman’s Place, the only domestic violence community benefit organization serving Bucks County, Pennsylvania. She has more than 15 years of professional experience within the community benefit sector, is an avid volunteer, has two beautiful daughters, and finds time to run five days a week. Ifeoma blogs weekly for A Woman’s Place. This blog post was originally published on that website on February 6, 2014.