1. Adolescent girls won't tell you about the intense pressures they are under to be perfect. Girls are expected to be perfect at all the traditional "girl qualities", i.e. be pretty, thin, hot, sweet and nice to everyone, put other people's needs first, be good at verbal skills and relationships, be nurturing etc.
The difference today is that they are also feeling the heat to be perfect at all the traditional "boy qualities" i.e.. be competitive, aggressive, ambitious, willing to step on everyone to get to the top, be at the top of the class academically and admitted to top tier colleges, performing on super-select club sports teams, and hook up sexually and have it be no big deal, etc.
And then they are supposed to grow up and become a woman who is a perfect wife and mother with 2 perfect children, have an incredible job where they have risen to the top and are making a boatload of money, while still staying thin, pretty, and hot…and make it all seem easy and effortless. This stress and pressure plays out as depression, anxiety, and mean girl dramas.
2. Kids won't tell you about what complicated lives they are living, especially compared to their parents experience. Many kids have to deal with divorce, step-parents, parents who fight, unrealistic expectations from parents and teachers to be perfect students and not make mistakes, unrelenting activities that keep them busy and performing for adults, a whole assortment of different ways their families look, the constant bombardment of unhealthy messages and images from the media, and the tension from a 24/7 news cycle of relationship drama from their technology.
Way too many girls have sexual experiences forced on them. And they are so busy that there is no time to have quiet time to reflect and process through their feelings and issues.
3. Girls won't tell you that the biggest cost to them from all the relationship dramas they experience is that they are giving their power away, and thus losing themselves. They give their power away every time they: compare themselves to others, put up with abuse, avoid conflict and not stand up for themselves, not ask for what they want, let their buttons be pushed, and allow themselves to be seen and treated like an object by boys.
They lose sight of who they are, what they are feeling, what they need, and what is right for them. Thus the reason for such high levels of anxiety, depression, cutting, and eating disorders in girls.
4. The culture is pressuring them to go for it and make it no big deal, and in a sense their more archetypical female energy has been overridden by the more male archetypical sexual energy.
But most girls I talk to regret their 1st intercourse experience, wishing it had been with someone they really cared about vs. an impulsive hook-up. And most girls also have to get drunk before they hook-up, which says a lot about their need to numb out emotionally in order to do it. Girls are wired to connect and bond, and hooking up sexually is a superficial way to do that.
5. That they want, and can, and will have it all! But my definition of having it all means this: girls and women have to have the ability to get quiet, go inward, and be in touch with their intuition and feelings and their 'knowing'. They have to consciously decide at every step along the way: "Is this right for me?" "What do I want and need?"
If you just 'lean in' and never look up until you are at the top, there is a great chance that your life will be out of balance. And we should be open to having millions of ways that 'having it all' looks like, because each woman ought to be making choices consciously for her and not be so influenced by what they 'should' be doing because of pressures from the 2 polar extremes that get the most attention; i.e. feminists and stay-at-home moms. Every woman can have it all if they are in charge of what having it all means for them as an individual.
Dr. Tim Jordan is a leading expert on parenting girls from 2 – 20 years of age. He is the author is Sleeping Beauties, Awakened Women: Guiding Transformation of Adolescent Girls. He is also an international speaker, media expert and school consultant. He often speaks about girls and their journey through adolescence, relationship aggression, friendship, cliques and bullying and the best practices for parenting girls. For more information visit www.drtimjordan.com.