In a culture where women are confronted every day with photographs in media that show perfect bodies, messages suggesting sexual innuendos and the need for young women to be attractive to the opposite sex, there is a perfect emotional storm for all young girls seeking to be liked and wanting to eventually be loved by the opposite sex. The passage from childhood to adulthood is fraught with kids wanting to still be loved and approved by their parents, but also longing to strain toward adulthood and wanting to be affirmed by their peers. This is a normal passage for all young women.
However, the way this passage into adulthood is handled will greatly determine the relative health and confidence with which a girl merges into adulthood. And as a mom, you can truly be a voice of affirmation, encouragement and guidance for your girls if you can understand the pressure they feel to conform and to please their peers.
Now in my 20's, I have experienced my fair share of growing up, stretching, hurting, and learning how to enjoy being a young woman. Even now, I remember my first day of high school , and the confusion and anxiety I felt, like it was yesterday. The majority of my peers were nervous, maybe even terrified, wondering how well they would be received by the population of teenagers.
I couldn't fall asleep the night before because I couldn't stop thinking about what I should wear. My mom had taken me to my favorite outlet mall over summer break to pick out some new clothes. The entire night, I tossed and turned wondering which t-shirt/blue jean combo I should choose. Finally, I decided on some faded blue jeans with the "totally not already made that way" holes in the knees. Being from Florida, I also went with a Kenny Chesney t-shirt and some flip flops to complete my perfect high school look.
I walked down the halls my first day trying not to smile too much, because I didn't want to draw attention to my metal mouth. After each class that day, I rushed to the bathroom to fix my Florida humidified hair. Why was I so concerned about what people thought of me? They were just teenagers. The point is, we all want so badly to be accepted. We want to be liked.
These are the feelings all young women feel during their teenage years.
Now, as 22 year old young woman living in Hollywood, I have come to realize that these insecurities with which we struggle, don't really fade away with age. Women were created to be clothed in strength, dignity, confidence and grace, but looking around at our culture today, I see so much brokenness. So much hurt. So much insecurity. So many emotional scars.
We are in a generation with a serious identity crisis. We desperately want to be able to define who we are. This is why tween & teen girls will spend hours getting ready to go anywhere. They long for affirmation in a culture that is passive and disconnected from real love. Constantly seeking answers and trying to figure out our ideals, beliefs, and dreams creates emotional vulnerability. Girls compare themselves to photo-shopped magazines. We are told that our value is in our bodies. We sometimes let our own insecurities discourage us deep within. But what if I told you that you, as a mom, held power and God given authority, to positively determine the outcome of your daughter's life? What if I told you that God has entrusted you to steward and raise a woman of influence?
This is a time and a generation filled with young women who desperately need to know they are worthy, valuable, and strong. All we need to do is change our definitions of ourselves. As a mother, you are in charge of a very important job.
Instead of getting frustrated with your daughter, her hormonal ups and downs, times of irrational responses, try to remember how you felt at her age. Relate to her and remember that it is not easy trying to figure out a strong identity.
Remember, "A gentle answer turns away wrath." Proverbs 15:1 (or anger, frustration, insecurity!)
I challenge you this week to make intentional time with your daughter. Have a cup of tea or coffee, laugh, chat, and ask her what is on her heart. When moms make time to be casual and personal with their daughters, to value the things their children admire, then it opens up a girl's heart to share with her inner most feelings with her mom. Perhaps your daughter is feeling confident and joyful. That is absolutely amazing, and it is my wish for every young woman. However, most girls struggle with feelings of doubt, insecurity, and confusion, but they do not want to reveal it unless they feel they can trust someone with their insecurities. Take the time to allow your daughter know how important her concerns are to you.
If you are seeking a Bible study, devotional resource to assist you as you spend quality time with your daughter, you can click on the following link to get your very own copy of my book, "God's Girl."
Relate to your daughter this week, and remind her that she is marvelously made.
***For more on Rachael Lee, check out her blog for young women.
Rachael Lee, Ministry Leader for Tween Girls; author, actress, Bible study Leader