Many people believed that the trending phrase “she’s 12” on Twitter yesterday had to do with our country’s president.
It speaks loudly about the state of our politics that I saw “She’s 12” trending and immediately thought that the President had done something disgusting
— Santiago Mayer (@santiagomayer_) September 22, 2020
Luckily it had nothing to do with politics. Here’s what really inspired the trend.
It all started when a father, Jason Ernst, presented Twitter with an interesting dilemma. His daughter Klaire, who is 12, hates her name and wants to have it legally changed to “Ace.” Ernst told Twitter that he wasn’t a huge fan of the name Ace, and suggested to his daughter that it be a nickname. Klaire was not okay with that compromise. And thus, Ernst turned to Twitter to seek out parenting advice.
My daughter’s name is Klaire, she’s 12. She hates her first name and wants it to be “Ace”. She wants it legally changed. Both her mother and I are against that.
I hate it. I said it’d be ok as a nickname but she’s not okay with that.
What do I do?
— Jason Ernst (@Geranthrimin) September 21, 2020
Ernst began getting flooded with replies, everyone trying to weigh in with their own parenting tips. Many advised to wait until the daughter is 18 so that she can legally do it on her own, and in the meantime support her by calling her Ace.
Tell her when she's 18 she can change it legally and you'll help her. In the meantime, call her Ace. In 6 years my guess is there will be other more pressing priorities that occupy her stratosphere. Aren't teenagers fun?
— Vicki Hendrix (@VicxHendrix) September 23, 2020
Hi there, we don’t know each other & I do not know where Ace is in the journey but if I could offer one piece of advice, listen to Ace. If Claire feels happier as Ace, then you should trust in her choice. You can offer guidance or find a counselor but please don’t suppress Ace
— BAM Ariana Michaels (@ArianaDMichaels) September 22, 2020
Those who thought Ernst should call his daughter “Ace,” agreed that it was an act of support. One Twitter user went so far to point out that if Ernst belittles or makes fun of the “nickname,” it could be interpreted as him not liking who she wants to be.
"It's your right to decide who you are. Let's call you Ace, and then if you want to make that legal when you turn 18, we'll foot the bill." (Also knock it off with the whiney tweets about how the name is "dumb" because what she'll hear is that you don't like who she wants to be.)
— Racheline Maltese (@racheline_m) September 22, 2020
Some people did advise him to flat out tell his daughter no. Their viewpoints being that the role of a father is to “parent” and put your foot down sometimes, especially because the daughter is still so young.
Say no. Being a parent is not a popularity contest. She can change it when she’s an adult.
— Fix 👏the👏System 🇺🇸🇺🇸🌈❄️ (@IrishLass2157) September 22, 2020
Say no, because you're an adult, and thus should understand it's not about the name. Figure out if it's just an age-appropriate whim, or a larger self-image problem you can help her get past. Either way, the answer is no.
— David Steinberg (@realDSteinberg) September 22, 2020
Others were alarmed that the daughter being 12 mattered at all. Most agreed that children have their own reasoning behind their decisions, just like adults, and should be respected, regardless of age.
for everyone saying she’s 12: yeah, she is. in a year or two she’ll be in HIGHSCHOOL. you need to start letting her make her own decisions. you should ask her WHY she truly wants to change it, and you should be fully supportive of everything she chooses to do.
— ArtbyInis⁷ 🎨🇦🇱 (@ArtbyInis) September 22, 2020
Some commented speaking from their own experience, either from the parent or child perspective. A grown mother and daughter pair separately replied to the Twitter thread. The daughter, Amy, wanted to change her name but her parents wouldn’t let her and she was ultimately grateful for their decision.
I'm Amy's mother. When she wanted her name changed, she wouldn't let up & kept putting pressure on her dad & I. We stood our ground, but she didn't make it easy on us emotionally. Try to stand your ground in a loving way, as you know by Amy's comment she's grateful she listened.
— Lana B. (@LanaLadybluept) September 23, 2020
Amy’s mom, Lana, agreed that she thought their decision was right, but did include that Amy had given her and her husband a really hard time for it. Luckily there was no resentment between this pair over the name issue.
This brings us to the next point of contention presented in this thread. Many parents said Ernst was risking resentment from his daughter for the rest of her life if he doesn’t respect her wishes now.
allow your kid to express herself. restricting her from doing that will most likely end up damaging your relationship with her. she's 12 and she's starting to become more aware of the world around her and she's learning how to express herself within the society we live in today 1
— eschopi (@eschopi_) September 22, 2020
Hey, here's something to consider: she's trusting you by sharing this request, instead of just having her friends call her "Ace" and cutting you out of knowing who she really is.
Respect this trust, or later on you'll know even less about her inner life.
— Cliff Jerrison (@pervocracy) September 22, 2020
That’s a big burden for a parent. Clearly the name issue can potentially have some deeper-seeded reasoning that parents may not necessarily be privy to or aware of.
Ernst later did give us more backstory on his daughter, to help shed light on why he was hesitant to let her change her name in the first place. But this also highlights some of the potential processing his daughter is doing.
She’s identifying as pan sexual. She went through lesbian & bi already.
— Jason Ernst (@Geranthrimin) September 21, 2020
Ernst’s hesitancy based on his daughter’s rapid decision changing when it comes to her sexual identity, a struggle many face as they enter their teenage years, was not met by much understanding or support by the Twitter community. In fact, it sparked its own thread on the legitimacy of a teenager’s thought process.
How is this argument. The human brain does not fully develop until the age of 24. This young person may not have even started her period, so she still has many years of discovery ahead of her. Hormonal changes are powerful determinants of how we feel and think.
— Cristina NoSoyTíteredeNadie (@cristinaydarwin) September 23, 2020
Simple. She’s a human, and they should at least respect her new name, even if they don’t get it legally changed. End of story!!
— PQ actually cares about you ✨ (@NerdyBirdyChic) September 23, 2020
Ultimately, most people thought this was an easy problem to avoid. The easy solution that most people agree on is to call the daughter by the name she wants to be called and move on.
You can dig your heels in, make it a big issue & absolutely cement her in the idea that her given name is wrong.
Or you can call her Ace, make her comfortable and happy, and give her space to figure things out. She may stay Ace she may not, but you'll still have a relationship.
— Audrey IS ANGRY AND VOTING 🤬 (@HedwigGraymalk) September 23, 2020
This seemingly unimportant tweet became such a controversial topic for parents and children alike, propelling “she’s 12” to become trending on Twitter. It sparked discussions ranging from the legitimacy of a “child’s” reasoning, the autonomy of children and teenagers, and to ultimately what the role of a parent should look like. It’s funny to think that people who only saw the phrase “she’s 12” trending thought it had to do with politics #yikes. Thankfully there was a deep conversation being had instead.
It really is sad, and scary , when you wake up too “she’s 12” trending and your actually relieved it is not about or connected to your nation’s leader.
— Le_Roost (@le_roost) September 22, 2020
Parenting has never been an easy job, but luckily (for better or for worse) we now have the internet to crowdsource! What would you do if you were in this situation? Tell your child they can’t change their name, go along with the nickname and re-address the issue when they turn 18, or just go ahead and let them legally change their name?