We have been going into high schools for 5 years now, and each year still comes with new challenges. Challenges to keep up with the technology, media, and the latest fads that our youth have the pressure to live up to. If you talk to most older women, our common complaints were that our parents didn’t respect our privacy, we had tons of chores to do, and our mothers yelled a lot! The old Will Smith song “Parents just don’t understand” always comes to my mind when speaking of my life as a teenager.
We set a goal to reach 1,500 young women between the ages of 11-19 and we are very excited to announce that we exceeded that!! While in these schools, we learned a lot, some from observation and some straight from the mouths of our youth. Here are 5 things that we learned:
- Again, 100% of young women care about what their parents think of them regardless of what they show you.
- Teenagers hear you when you speak negatively about yourself and it effects their perception of themselves tremendously. With your words, you help them develop what beauty should be. So when you stand in front of the mirror and say “my(fill in the blank) is too small”, “my arms are fat”, or “I wish (fill in the blank) looked better”, just know that it is forming their perception of true physical beauty.
- Teenagers hate that you tell their business. When a teenager tells you something in confidence or they do something that may disappoint you and you pick up the phone and call someone and talk about them, they HATE that!! It also breeds distrust and at a time when your teenager needs you the most, they feel as though they can’t trust you. That is a BIG deal.
- They hate hearing “well back in my day”. This was something that I heard from every school that we entered and in some cases the room erupted with “yes I hate that”. Teenagers today do indeed deal with different issues due to the at your finger tips ease of social media. The pressures from their peers are real and don’t leave them when they leave school for the day. With social media, their lives follow them wherever they go and it can easily turn into them being bullied about something that happened to them earlier that day in school.
- Our teenagers think that we are the phone/social media just as much as them! This one shocked me. The ladies feel as though our attention is never fully on them and that they have to compete with us texting or being on Facebook.
When For Our Daughters goes into the schools to reach young women we go in to talk to them about self esteem, communication, and advocacy. Once the young women feel comfortable, other issues always come up. We are grateful for these conversations because we hope that they can help strengthen relationships between the young women and their parents/guardians at home. Take a little time everyday to talk about one of these converstions…..you may be surprised at what you hear.
We are looking forward to our 2017/2018 school year. Enjoy the rest of your summer!