Valley of (In)Decision: 1 Key To Help Your Teen Daughter Make Big Decisions



A Big Decision

One big decision that your daughter will make is where to attend college. I have twin daughters who are high school seniors, so I’ve been experiencing a double portion of decision and indecision lately.

Each daughter has a handful of schools from which to choose. For my younger daughter who tends to have a hard time committing to making decisions, she (surprisingly, to me) made her big decision somewhat easily. For her older sister who tends to easily commit to decisions she’s made, she is having more difficulty making her big choice.

As I thought about each of them in their process – not comparing, but noticing their differences – I realized a big difference between the two. That difference is in their AI. And I don’t mean artificial intelligence.

Key To Making Big Decisions

The key difference in their making this big (college) decision is Ascription Identity. By Ascription Identity I mean: a recognition or acknowledgement of a quality, trait, or talent as belonging to someone.

For my youngest daughter, she always gravitated towards the creative arts. On her own, she dedicated a ton of time developing her talent and skill in that venue both inside and outside the classroom.

creative arts_decision

She also spent time expressing and sharing her talent and skills. She did this by herself and amongst others in various small and large local community groups and venues. These venues affirmed whom she knows herself to be—a creative artist who is very good at what she does.

So, when it came time for her to not just look for but decide on what college to attend, the choice was easy for her. Why? Because she prioritized an important aspect of her core self—being a creative artist.

Her prioritizing her core-self guided her college decision-making process. For my youngest daughter, her college and its local surroundings had to have ample venues for her to continue developing in an area important to her, regardless of whether or not she majored in the creative arts.

creative_decision making

Now, my older daughter also has a penchant for the creative arts. Unlike her younger sister, she is very good in multiple areas—the oratory/theatrical, written, and musical genres of the creative arts. However, she never found her one ongoing consistent niche among any of those categories.

By “consistent” I mean those venues that spanned beyond a “season” or “production” time period. Or that carried over into her involvement beyond the high school walls and into the community.

Without any kind of extra-familial (peer) validation, my older daughter has had a hard time internally prioritizing and verbalizing what is really important to her in a college. It’s as if she’s had a boat without a rudder to steer her decision-making processes.

Mom Error: Hindrance to Making Big Decisions

As I think about where I erred in my mothering, my heart aches with sadness that I missed it. All these years, I knew my older daughter had talent within the creative arts. I supported and encouraged her with lessons, equipment, theater classes, (admittedly, moreso than I did with her younger sister). However, I did not really take full note of her actions.

I didn’t see those things for which she took the initiative to verbalize her interest in pursuing. As I think about it now, the two key times she spoke up—once in elementary school and once in high school—she chose the musical creative arts. As her mom, she needed me to notice, take her in, affirm, and emotionally support her identity.


It can be so easy to miss those moments when our daughters express their true “self.” Amidst all the activity, the threads of ascription identity can easily get tangled up, tripped over, or (God forbid) even cut.

My heart is full of hope with this realization and understanding. There is now opportunity for me to address it with her.


To learn more about how to help your daughter make big decisions, CLICK HERE for more information.


  • Kelly
    Love this!! Great info... certainly made me aware that I need to tune up my listening skills over the next few years before my daughter heads off to college!
    • Dr. Michelle Deering
      Hi Kelly. My biggest apology for taking so long to reply. I'm still learning the ins and outs of Wordpress. So great to hear that you got some further insight about your listening skills. Yes, be present with your daughter so you can hear her is key! Keep me posted as she progresses (& I promise I'll reply a lot sooner).
    • Dr. Michelle Deering
      belated thanks for your comments, kelly! I know your doing an awesome job of mothering your daughter:)

Leave a comment