One of my daughters is turning 16 this year. How did that happen? Time has been a blur for the past three years for me and I can hardly believe this time has come. I asked her if she wanted a party or anything and she asked me, “Why?” so I did some research and learned a thing or two about milestone birthdays.
In the US a sweet sixteen is a coming of age milestone. Many people throw big parties to celebrate a teenager’s 16th birthday. It is mostly done for the females and I was not sure why when I was a young girl. I did notice the richer kids got cars on their 16th birthdays. I personally did not have a party nor did I get a new car. I got some special cards from friends, otherwise it was just another birthday for me. I do not regret it. I’m not marked or resentful about not having one.
In the hispanic community they have a similar tradition for the 15th birthday of females. These Quinceaneras parties can also be extravagant with music, food and gifts. Some celebrate with a father who presents her with heels or a tiara to mark that she is a woman.
Some families choose this special birthday to be celebrated in their church and they may do a candle ceremony or some other symbolic gesture to celebrate a particular young person becoming an “adult”. If the families are Catholic they have already had confirmation when she/he turned 13 or 14 when they are considered spiritually mature.
I started to get a little uncomfortable with some of these traditions as they seem to be all about getting the girl ready to wed or breed – it seems to me that the kids should grow up on their own time table. I know my oldest is finally acting like a teenager and my 12 year old has had teenager moods and attitudes starting at 11. We happen to not put importance on age and we talk more about maturity in behavior, attitude and thinking.
Either way, if she wants to have friends over, I’m glad to have an event for her and some friends but nothing huge or fancy. If not, I’m fine with that too. Her birthday – her choice. She’s thinking about it.