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Q&A: How Should I React When My Teen Calls Her Friend a Bitch?

Teen parenting expert Rosalind Wiseman on what to tell your daughter when you hear her swear at her friend and call her names.

Q. I heard my 15-year-old daughter calling her friend a bitch. She says she's just kidding. Is this a new thing for girls?

A. The reason teens believe words like "bitch" don't mean anything is because kids hear them so often they seem normal. But just because something's common doesn't make it right. So I'd say to your daughter, "I get that you think I'm overreacting, but there's something you need to know. Historically, that word is used to silence a woman who is perceived to be too adamant about her opinions and rights. I doubt that you believe women should be shut down for demanding respect. Now that you know, I'm asking you to be a strong woman by taking responsibility for the words you say. That is what powerful women of character do."

Originally published in the October 2008 issue of Family Circle magazine.

 

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