If you are the mom of a teen girl, did you realize that there are a few things that you must know? These are the things that we as their moms need to look out for as they are “red flags” that signal to us that there may be some things going on with our teen girls that we will want to keep a close eye on and perhaps address.
I have written of teens before in What Your Teen Really Needs From You and specifically on teen girls in 13 Frugal Ways to Communicate Love to Your Teen Daughter, but it is time to focus on teen girls again for a bit because teenager-hood is such a volatile time when our roles as moms are so vitally important.
I remember so many things about the difficulties of being a teen, but today’s world seems even more harsh than when I was a teen. We watch the world around us unfold on live tv or on the internet, and the things people say and post on social media never cease to amaze me.
Perfection is paraded as normal everywhere we look every day because of our access to be a voyeur into the lives of others by these same means, and our sense of right and wrong as a society is so warped these days. Lines that once seemed to be drawn in black permanent marker now seem to be a light grey, blurred mess.
Have moms throughout time been saying these things? Did our moms feel as though their teens had more trials to face than they did because of the cultural fabric they were a part of? Maybe.
As teens, especially teen girls, struggle to make their way through these murky times, there are some things that we moms need to be vigilant in dealing with as they are stumbling blocks to our daughters successfully making their way along their life’s journey.
There are so many things that can get them off course, but these are the ones I feel have the most damage to do should our daughters become ensnared by any of them.
Our girls can become depressed over so many things, but these are among the greatest:
- Unrealistic expectations placed on them either by others or by themselves that can be image based or performance based.
- Relationships whether healthy or unhealthy ones.
- Boys. Enough said on that one.
- Being forced to grow up too fast. This is huge, and it is everywhere whether it is the way our girls are wearing makeup at eight or having to pick a college career as they enter kindergarten. Maybe that is a bit extreme, but every decision our girls (and boys) make is often so focused on the future much more than ever before. Classes chosen, areas of study, volunteer hours earned in elementary school are all logged and recorded to be used for college entrance some day.
2. Sexual behavior
This has always been there, but with our girls growing up too fast coupled with seeing sexual content everywhere, the pressures here are paramount for our girls. Why?
- Sex is no longer seen as predominantly something that comes with marriage like it used to be. Marriage used to be the normal context in which sexual behavior was seen. Those days are long gone.
- Pressure our girls feel whether from boys, friends, or the culture is a regular part of their lives like never before.
- Especially these days, girls can feel as though pushing the envelope and being a willing participant in sexual behavior will be the only way they can get or keep a boyfriend. In today’s world of promiscuity, if our girls won’t do it, someone else will…this is the pressure they face!
3. Our society’s obsessions with appearance and the worship of “stuff”
- Immodest dress. When did young girls stop being ladies? I suppose it is as respect for ourselves as a society has started disappearing.
- Immodest dress only brings all of the imperfections we feel about ourselves to the forefront. Because girls and women parade around half naked, the physical attributes that are cause for comparison leave little up to the imagination.
- The way we, and our daughters, dress communicates something about us. It always has, but these days no one cares so little thought is ever given to that.
- Our culture is obsessed with the way we look with our hair, makeup, clothes, and every accessory we could possibly own screaming of perfection. Even the backpacks our kids carry come under scrutiny!
- What we have tells who we are – at least this is how society at large judges us.
4. Eating disorders
These have always been there, but eating disorders are rampant in today’s society. I can speak from experience here. I had one. Through counseling I learned that eating disorders are as much, or more, about control as they are about anything related to body image. I wrote about my experience more in Eating Disorders Are Not Just a Teen Issue .
- Because of the expectations spoken of in the three previous points, our girls can feel very unable to control many of those aspects, so they find something they can control. Their weight. Their weight can be directly proportional to how they look if it becomes something that is taken to an extreme and obsessive level.
- In today’s airbrushed society, the airbrushed body is viewed as achievable and even the norm, so our girls are trying to capture an elusive body image that doesn’t even exist. Not anywhere.
- Our girls can feel inadequate in certain areas…maybe they have acne or frizzy hair, or something else that they see as less than ideal, so they look for whatever they can to make themselves prettier. This can quickly become trying to mimic the airbrushed images they see.
These points have given us a lot to think about as the mom of a teen girl. It is a lot to take in, but the pressures our girls feel are huge, and we need to talk about them. We also need to be proactive in how to deal with these pressures and issues.
Tomorrow, I will share ways that we moms can come alongside our girls, well before they are teens, to equip them in the best way possible to overcome these stumbling blocks before they even come into view.