Ever stopped and wondered what happened to my sweet little baby girl while glancing at you’re teenage daughter struggling with self-esteem, relationships, and mood swings? It seems that it is a rite of passage in our society for teenage girls to battle with all these issues before discovering their value, worth, and place in adult womanhood. As parents, teachers, mentors, etc. it breaks our hearts to see these young ladies struggle and at times making poor and bad choices due to lies and mistaken beliefs they have about themselves and others. This is due to the fact that we know better as adults but we all had to wrestle with these same issues ourselves at some point adolescence to become the people we are today. We seem to think that things are worse off today than our childhoods but the same old inner battles are the same.
7 Major Struggles for Teen Girls:
- Substance use and abuse
- Self-mutilating behavior
- Body image
- Eating Disorders
- Self-esteem issues.
Why, why, why does this have to happen to these girls at such a young age. There are several root problem possibilities but there is usually underlying themes that are the same.
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Top 3 Lies Teenage Girls and Young Women Believe:
Lie #1 | Beautiful girls are worth more – Girls can develop insanely unrealistic expectations of beauty, with air-brushed models and over the top sexualized celebrities. The world’s view of so-called beauty has made it hard for girls and young women to see their own worth. Most teens and young women will report that they feel fat and ugly. Some even say they have hated themselves and felt worthless due to the way they look.
Truth #1 | One way to stop this is remembering that physical beauty is temporary where inner beauty is forever. It is important to teach our teens to focus on cultivating their inner beauty by becoming more loving, gracious, and kind. Focusing more on our inner strengths and God given gifts and talents. Radiance of inner beauty makes all girls so much more attractive and that is where our identity and worth need to come from rather than our physical appearance.
Lie #2 | I need a boyfriend to be happy – Girls and women struggle with this drive for male attention. Females are so programmed to believe that we are not valuable until we have the attention and acceptance from guys. Girls believe that life would be better with a boyfriend and it will temporarily. We are setting ourselves up for disappointment and potentially disaster if we are looking for fulfillment or happiness from a person.
Truth #2 | It is important for us to teach our adolescent girls to focus on cultivating their dreams and visions for the future. To start focusing on activities and things that will increase their self-esteem and in return increase their overall happiness.
Lie #3 | It is ok to be one person at home and a different person with others especially online – It is noted that teen girls are likely to gossip, use wild profanity, talk casually about sex with guys, be mean to teens outside their peer group, and post or look at mild sexual photos when they are online.
Truth #3 | They would not dare to do some of these things at home or other places in the community. It is important as parents to monitor your teen’s online life. Place restrictions on websites they are allowed to visit. Tell your teen you need to be able to follow them on Facebook and Instagram. In my private practice, I have experienced many teens developing very inappropriate relationships with guys they do not know on the Internet. Several of these males ended up being men that were setting them up for verbal, visual, or physical sexual abuse. It is vital that we are aware of what our teens are doing online and whom they are communicating. It is important that we talk with our teens about:
- Their values and beliefs about how they should treat their peers
- Their own selves and bodies and how to set boundaries for dignity and self-respect.
It is important to realize that you may need professional assistance to help your teen girl work through some of these adolescent issues and more guidance on parenting your teen through family counseling. It takes a village to raise a child and early intervention is important to help stop some of theses harmful behaviors which contribute to mood disorders, substance abuse, self-mutilation, low-self worth, etc. A teen may be resistant to help or they may be very grateful and willing. Whatever scenario it is, when they are adult women they will thank you for your love and intervention into their lives that were potentially going on the wrong path of despair and self-destruction.
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Author: Dana West, MSW, LCSW is an Orlando Teen Counselor & Addictions, Sexual Abuse Trauma Therapist with Total Life Counseling Center with offices in Southwest Orlando, East Orlando, Winter Park, Lake Mary & Clermont Florida. Total Life Counseling Center specializes in helping teens and parents and our experts can be reached at (407) 248-0030.
Reference | A main resource that was used for this article is Lies Young Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free by Nancy Leigh DeMoss & Dannah Gresh.