Earlier this week, I touched on two common temptations teens (and especially girls) struggle with: (1) Getting involved in an online relationship and (2) Crossing physical boundaries. Two more common struggles that teens (especially girls) struggle with include: (3) food-related struggles, and: (4) fantasy & masturbation.
Like so many of these life compromises, food-related struggles and masturbation struggles start out simple and even “innocent”. Your daughter decides to go on a diet. Eating healthy is a good thing, right? As she starts to lose weight, she feels more confident, and the guys in her class are giving her more and more attention. Soon, she focuses increasingly on how many calories she is eating, and she becomes fearful about gaining weight. Her thoughts about food and calories are becoming an obsession, and her weight loss is becoming unhealthy. One day, she finds out that the guy that she was dating was flirting with someone else, and she turns to food for comfort. She eats so much that she feels sick, and she feels guilty about all of the calories that she ate. She is upset and heartbroken, and since being thin is her main focus in life, she makes herself throw up—telling herself it was wrong to eat so much food.
Or, your daughter starts reading a book that many of her friends at school are reading; she doesn’t want to be left out of their conversations. As she reads, she starts feeling turned on. She thinks about closing the book, but then she starts picturing herself in the pages of that book, and the fantasy takes over. She starts touching herself, telling herself it will be just this one time, but masturbation becomes something she does more and more… to deal with heartbreak, to numb herself from something, because she is bored, or because she becomes hooked on the momentary pleasure that she feels.
Yes, mom and dad, even your “perfect” daughter could struggle with masturbation. Yes, your daughter could be making unhealthy choices about food on a daily basis. Both of these struggles can be so easy for a young person (boy or girl), and of course, even an adult, to hide. Do you know your own kids well enough to talk with them in an atmosphere of trust about these common temptations? I once counseled a girl who had lost over twenty pounds in a very short period of time, and her parents never said a word to her. And so many parents think that their daughters won’t struggle with masturbation and lust… they believe it’s a “boys issue”. Parents: it’s time to wake up. So many of our kids today are hurting and acting out. They are living in a broken, sex-saturated world, and without your guidance and help, chances are they will self-medicate and develop a self-destructive life rhythm that could become an unhealthy lifestyle. It’s time to have a frank conversation and learn what your kids are up against in the day-to-day. It’s not easy to talk to your kids about their life and about sexual or bodily struggles, but it’s critical that you do. For more to help you start the conversations, check out our parent resources here.