Last week, Kevin focused on the concept that many of our teens (especially our girls) struggle with: ‘If You’ve Got It, Flaunt It”. I remember back when I was in high school, this was a concept that I certainly struggled with. On the outside, everything looked pretty good, but on the inside, I was an insecure mess, and as a result, I felt as though I constantly needed the attention and affirmation of the guys around me.
Often, the insecurity and neediness that our kids feel on a day-to-day basis fuels their decisions to cross boundaries, make compromises and, for our girls, flaunt their bodies. Today, I want to highlight two areas that the high school and junior high girls I meet with generally struggle:
They look for love, intimacy and attention through cyber-relationships and cyber-sex. The scenario usually goes like this: They meet someone online, and over the next few weeks, they share more of their heart and their life with him. He tells them they are beautiful and sexy. He’s in college, but they have so much in common, your daughter thinks she is pretty mature, and she tells herself that age doesn’t really matter. They start talking on the phone late into the night. He asks your daughter what she’s wearing, and wants her to send a picture. Her conversations become more and more sexual, and at some point, you’re daughter becomes desperately afraid of losing this guy she met online.
Your daughter decide to cross physical boundaries and make compromises to get a guy’s attention: A bunch of her friends are going to a party, and everyone is spending the night there, including the guy she likes. She knows that you wouldn’t want her to go to that party, but she tells herself she’s not going to drink, so she rationalizes that it’s OK to tell you (the parents) a little white lie. She tells herself that she’s going to be an example at the party, but in reality, she spends the rest of the night flirting and pursuing the guy she has a crush on. When everyone starts going to bed, somehow she’s alone with him. He leads her into a bedroom, and she tells herself she isn’t going to do anything, they’ll just sleep. But, when he starts to kiss her, she starts to worry that if she doesn’t perform like the girls he’s dated before, he won’t want to be with her, and the rationalizations continue.
Do either of these scenarios sound familiar to you? If you went through high school, you probably struggled with insecurity, and as a result you probably made at least a few compromises like the ones I hear so often from pre-teens and teens today. Why do I share these? To help you remember that teenage angst is tough, and as parents, we need to not only set clear boundaries, but we also need to do our part to help our kids be ready to take stands when the going gets tough. We need to affirm them, love them and help them to walk in wisdom, not out of fear and insecurity. When it comes to online temptations, we also need to use parental controls (filtering and monitoring software, like SafeEyes or our X3watchPRO), so you can learn immediately if your son or daughter are engaging in sexual conversations with strangers online. Remember, however, to have compassion; your son and daughter’s desires for love, attention and affirmation are only natural, and sometimes they are going to make mistakes, especially if you haven’t been doing your part to keep the lines of communication open about sex, relationships and what is and isn’t “right”. To help, I would encourage you to check out our parent resources, including “The Talk” and our “Critical Issues” page.