For weeks, my daughter had begged me to watch “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before,” a film she’d seen by herself twice. So we carved out a two-hour window one night to take in the rom-com together.
In the movie, the secret love letters of a shy and studious 16-year-old are (somehow!) mailed to her former crushes. It explores the tricky relationships every teen navigates — friendships, romance, frenemies, parents, siblings. It’s “The Breakfast Club” for post-millennials. With smartphones, of course.
It dawned on me that, at 11, my daughter is on the cusp of entering that period where relationships with people other than her dad and me will take center stage. We will become the benevolent, concerned observers with deep pockets. That’s as it should be, but watching the movie’s depictions of misunderstandings, missed opportunities and kids being ostracized left a deep pit in my stomach. How do I help her navigate a time that’s fraught with social peril? And in the primitive, cling-to-my-baby part of my brain, I wondered: Does she really need these other people?