Welcome back to Week 2 of my #Back2School series—”The Transitional Years.”
Last week we kicked the series off with three conversations you need to have with your daughter before middle school.
Even if your daughter’s already in middle school, they’re still good conversation starters as she heads back.
Or, maybe your daughter’s headed to high school this year.
If so, you can multiply the issues I shared about middle school last week (most of them anyway), by 10 for high school this week.
And that leaves us with three conversations I recommend having with your daughter to help her successfully navigate the high school years.
Sex, Love & Relationships 201
Even though some girls may “date” in middle school, by the time most get to high school, the pressure to be in a relationship is even more intense.
Unfortunately, some offer sex thinking it will “seal the deal” for their relationship status.
“You changed my mind on what I was about to do Friday. I was probably going to end up [having sex with a guy] because I liked him and I wanted him to know that; so I thought having sex with him would make him change his mind and be in a relationship with me. So, I’m very grateful for you because you told me I was worth something and you stopped me from doing something that was just going to keep hurting me.”
And others have sex in order to make their boyfriends happy, so they can hold on to the relationship.
“You see I was sexually active. The guy I’m with now was my first. My boyfriend had pressured me and I kept refusing. He wouldn’t stop insisting until one day I finally caved in. It wasn’t because I wanted to, but it was for him to be happy, which finally had cost me my happiness. I haven’t been able to be happy like I was before.”
Do you know what’s sadder than that?
A lot of girls I talk to or who write me, don’t even want to have sex.
They do it because they believe it’s expected.
“Before you spoke to our class I thought that sex was something that should be had at a young age, like 16. I thought it was kind of like a rite of passage for a young woman.” ~8thgrade girl
It’s not difficult to see how this thought process is a potential recipe for emotional and physical consequences.
That’s why it’s important to have an ongoing conversation with your daughter about love, sex, and relationships, specifically the pressure she’ll face to have all three.
Don’t forget to include dating violence and red flags to look out for which I talk more about here.
And remind your daughter that relationships should never define her.
You can also have her read Chapters 4 and 5 of my book, 7 Secrets Guys Will Never Tell You, for positive reinforcement.
Education is the Prize!
With so much pressure surrounding love, sex and relationships in high school, it’s easy for students to lose sight of why they’re there: to get an education that will prepare them for college and/or the workforce.
Don’t wait until your daughter’s junior or senior year to focus on college or take her on college tours. Start now!
Let me share a personal story with you.
During my niece’s 9thand 10thgrade years, my sister and I tried and tried without success to convince her to take Advanced Placement (AP) courses. She loved making A’s with no effort in honors classes and didn’t have the confidence to believe that she could also make A’s in AP courses.
At the end of her Sophomore year, I took her to visit my alma mater, Furman University. When she heard the college admissions counselor share what was required to get accepted, she decided that maybe it would be a good idea to take AP classes during her Junior and Senior years in order to be more competitive when she applied to college.
And guess what? She made A’s in those classes as well. What a boost to her confidence to discover that she was smarter than she had given herself credit.
So, my suggestion to your daughter?
Show her a college application in the 9thgrade so she’ll know what’s required to get accepted.
That way, she’ll be more likely to challenge herself academically, get involved in clubs/extracurricular activities and take on leadership roles.
But keep in mind there’s a fine line between encouraging kids to step up so they can gain confidence and be prepared for the future, and forcing them to do something just to pad their resumes.
With all your daughter will have to juggle in high school– between homework, friends, dating, and extracurricular activities–it’s easy for education to feel like one ball too many in the air.
That’s why she needs you, Mom.
NOT to swoop in and rescue her.
But to give her all of the encouragement and support she needs to keep her eyes on the prize.
Fitting In is Overrated
If your daughter somehow managed to escape pressure to fit in during middle school, it’s going to come up again in high school. Times 10, as I mentioned earlier.
Unfortunately, we’re not talking the good kind of peer pressure.
Drinking, doing drugs and having sex are the most common pressures high schoolers face to fit in.
“All my friends have been losing their virginities lately so I’ve been feeling pressured to lose mine because I’m still the ‘virgin’ so I recently told my boyfriend that I was ready. After your talk with my class, I realized that I don’t need to have sex just because everyone is, and that I should value myself and save myself for my husband. I didn’t even want to lose it in high school, I’ve just been feeling pressured because my friends are [losing their virginities] and the fact that my boyfriend isn’t [a virgin] and he plays football and he’s very attractive and can have any girl he wanted. I texted him right after you talked to my class and told him that I changed my mind…Thank you so much for talking to my class and making me realize that my future is more important than sex.”
But let your daughter know how crazy it is to try and impress people she probably won’t even be friends with 10 years from now.
Remind her that her authentic self is more than enough. And any friend who’d pressure her to engage in risky behavior for the sake of “fitting in,” isn’t worthy of being called “friend.”
Lastly, have your daughter repeat what I tell girls in my class as a daily mantra:
“I’d rather be hated for who I am than liked for who I pretend to be.”
The minute she grasps that, she’ll know for herself that fitting in is overrated.
And that will serve her well, even as a freshman in college.
Speaking of which, come back next week when I tackle three conversations every mom needs to have with her daughter as she transitions to college.
See you then!