Being a teen in society today is no joke. Being a teen was hard for me for many reasons and having good friends helped a lot. But going through it yourself is one thing while watching your own daughters transform before your eyes and seeing them face challenges is quite another! But it isn’t just that, I realized being a teen today is more challenging than ever—and it hit me hard when my oldest daughter began high school and my youngest became a middle schooler.
The pressures abound and are everywhere. Both my girls attended a pretty good school with a great reputation, in a pretty well-to-do neighborhood. The student body was relatively small with only two classes per grade. They began there in the first grade and kindergarten and as I watched them grow up, I also saw their friends blossom into beautiful young ladies.
Pressures and Changes for Girls in Junior High
Around junior high is when girls seemed to become more aware of their bodies. As they slowly transitioned into looking more like women than girls, the cliques began to form. The cool kids began separating themselves from the not-so-cool kids. And here began the pressures of being a teen, especially for young girls.
It’s natural to begin comparing the way their bodies began to change and there were mixed emotions of being completely mortified to the excitement of wearing a bra. Along with this came the ultra stigma of having a period and the chuckles that came from the boys around the topic. The pressures of coupling up also start this young, to my dismay, even though I remember my first junior high school crush. Thanks to social media, I even get to see how wonderful his life turned out, many years later!
With the bodies changing came more expression through fashion and makeup. With the social circles forming came more pressures of social invitations and being included. Aside from all these exponential changes, girls of course still have the responsibilities of being good students and juggling responsibilities at home.
Even More (Big) Changes from Junior High to High School
As I watched these same girls transition from junior high to high school, I saw what seemed like the most drastic changes yet. No longer were there pressures of who got their period first and who looked the oldest, now it was whether or not you were invited to the best parties. Parties that included alcohol, smoking, and drugs. This was freshman year. What happened to the little girls in pigtails? They were now posing poolside with a beer in hand. Could they possibly like the taste of alcohol? Now here comes the dilemma. Do you try to fit in and be completely uncomfortable or be doomed to unpopularity at home every Friday and Saturday night for the next four years to come?
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High School Pressures
As the high school year progress, there are more pressures with dating and experience when it comes to the opposite sex, or the same sex for that matter. Had they had their first kiss, was their virginity still intact? In the background, still the expectations of straight A’s and fulfilling chores and possibly acquiring a first paying job. Intertwined in all of this now is the social media piece. The incessant connection to anything and everything. Have a question? Google it. What was Jaimie doing last weekend? Just check the IG feed. They are experiencing puberty at a time when technology and social media are transforming society and they are growing up in front of hundreds if not thousands of people daily. Their lack of privacy is something we as parents have never experienced growing up.
The Reality of Being a Teen Today
Kids today have been described as too sensitive, too spoiled, and more overwhelmed than their parent’s generation. However, if you take a closer look, we see a pretty grim picture of our girls suffering more than ever. Anxiety and depression are on the rise, along with self-harm, abusing drugs, and thoughts of suicide and studies consistently show that girls are more at risk than boys.
This new generation of girls has never known a time when school violence wasn’t the norm, where lockdown drills replace fire drills. News of violence anywhere and everywhere travels at lightning speed.
Teen girls are living in a world filled with distractions, a myriad of things pulling for their attention, and putting stress on them. They crave independence but often feel overwhelmed by all the pressures they face at school, in their social life, at home, and from their computers and cell phones. Being a teen today can be a draining experience, from the schoolwork to worrying about society’s issues to keeping up with a social media identity. When tensions arise among peers, it’s now documented online for all to see. It’s too much stimulation and it’s exhausting, especially when they feel as if there’s no escape from the constant pressure on their phones, in their relationships, and from the way things are in the world today.
Craving independence and stepping into confidence
With everything a teen girl has to face, from her body changing, to friends and disagreements, to home and school pressures, ultimately, we want to teach our daughters how to step into the independence they crave, confidently and give them the tools to navigate the daily pressures whizzing all around them. In my workshops, both online and in-person, my goal is to help give teens (and their parents) the resources and knowledge they need to feel empowered, to honor their bodies and emotions, and to listen to their hearts even in the midst of a hyper-connected and fast-paced world. Check out upcoming workshops here! Also, we are putting the final touches on our new online course: How To Deal With The Pressures of Being A Teen. Please send me an email if you would like to be the first to know when registration opens!
Now, it’s your turn: What pressures do you feel girls face the most? Is it drastically different than it was for you? How are you supporting them in navigating them?