Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Gotta Have Me a Man!

I am raising two young ladies. I’m trying to instill a strong sense of self esteem and self worth in them. If I can do that with their friends as well; if I can help mentor them from time to time – well, that would be a double blessing to my heart.

Of course many things concern me in this day and age. (I sound like my grandma, when I say that, but it’s true.) Just one of the things that concerns me is the growing “need” of middle school girls to have to have a boyfriend. I am seeing it more and more.

With texting, boys and girls can communicate much more often than we did as kids. I barely talked to boys outside of school when I was a kid. Now, girls can talk to them often and even if they are shy, a small text is doable to them. With that, comes flirting and of course at their age, boys and girls are increasingly becoming interested in one another anyways.

You may or may not be aware of it (depending on what age kids you have) but at the junior high and middle school age especially; it is very common to have a boyfriend, break up in a few days, and then get a different one. At the rate some of these young girls are going – they will have “dated” every guy in their class by the time they are seniors!

What concerns me is not the fact that a middle school girl may have a boyfriend although that comes with its own burdens. What concerns me is the fact that middle school girls seem to think they NEED to have a boyfriend. I’ve witnessed comments such as, “I’m thinking I need to get a boyfriend” to “Why don’t you hook up with (so and so)” and “Don’t worry, I’m still single too.”

Why such the need to have a guy on their arm? Why are they so driven to have a boy in their life? Do our young girls feel like they are only valuable if they have a boyfriend? These are great concerns to me.

Parents, we need to talk to our kids. Even boys are flipping from girl to girl – so it shouldn’t just be left to the parents of daughters. But, we need to spend time with our kids and make sure they know they are not ugly, weird, or unloveable if they don’t have a boyfriend or girlfriend. We need to encourage them to get to know the opposite sex first, instead of merely getting together because you think someone is “hot.” (And believe me, that word is used a lot!)

In an increasingly look-driven society, it’s up to us to help our kids feel good about themselves. Growing up is tough and all sorts of hormones are going crazy. Encouraging our children to enjoy their own company and to become confident in who they are before dragging someone else into their lives in a complicated relationship, will not only be beneficial to them – but possibly one of the best gifts we could give them.

There will be plenty of time for dating later on. Middle school may be our kids’ last chance to hold onto some of their innocence. Let’s encourage it, support it, and invite it. Let’s help our kids feel worthwhile, wanted, and valued. If they don’t find it from us, they will look for it elsewhere.


Kristin said...

While I'm not a mom (thank goodness, I'm only 22), I am the youth director at my church for middle school and high school kids and I notice this all time. And it's so frustrating to me, because I just want to tell them "You don't need a boyfriend yet, you are complete and beautiful without a boy". And I get so sad when I think about someone so young having to deal with being told they are not pretty enough or not good enough to be someone's girlfriend. That's hard enough at my age, but to be told that at 13, I can't imagine how that feels.

karen said...

It seems like it starts at a much younger age with parents or other family or family friends teasing kids about whether the boy in preschool is their "boyfriend." I, think, too, all the disney/princess movies these days are about getting into a relationship - finding the prince! I think females are designed, from birth even, to desire companionship from a male (hello daddy!), but I agree that we need to focus little girls on their female friendships, their inner self, their strengths, their abilities, their brains, and minimize the influence that having a boy hold your hand is everything.