When you write a book for teen and tween girls, you learn a lot about teen culture. Much of what you learn will absolutely break your heart.
And while I don’t love controversy—or being one to initiate awkward conversations—I do love girls. Because of that love, I’m venturing out of my normal blogging zone to address an issue that parents and adolescents need to discuss.
Now, some parents assume that only “wild” girls sext. They’ve told their daughters to never-ever-ever-EVER send a provocative picture to anyone, and having had this conversation, they don’t worry about their child joining the party.
But what many adults don’t realize is how today’s teens are hearing it said that sexting is normal and no big deal. Everyone does it. Sexting may be gaining prevalence, but it’s not healthy. It isn’t right or good either, and it certainly won’t lead girls to the one thing they want most…LOVE.
I’m no expert on sexting, but I have concluded that somehow, it’s finagling its way into teen culture. It’s becoming common enough that even smart, together and generally deemed “good” girls are falling into the trap.
Raising your daughter in a Christian home, sending her to a school with high moral standards, filling her up with love and affirmation—while these things are great and certainly beneficial, they offer no guarantee that a girl won’t make that five-second mistake.
As anyone in the loop can tell you, it can be shocking to learn who has sexted. Even girls who normally show good judgment have been known to send a compromising picture that’s totally out of character.
My point in writing this isn’t to stir up panic, suspicion or hostility toward today’s girls. I’m simply try to raise awareness of a reality that’s gaining ground in this age of technology.
As writer Allison Slater Tate brilliantly pointed out in this article, we’re the first generation of parents raising kids in “the age of iEverything.” A lot of the challenges and problems we face are unprecedented, and we’re struggling to figure out our parenting strategy.
Unlike other parenting issues, where we can gleam wisdom from the parents ahead of us, there’s no road map to help us navigate the current maze of technology. Rules keep changing, and keeping up is hard. Five years ago, the rule of thumb for monitoring a child’s online activity was to keep the family’s one computer in a central location like the kitchen.
But now? Now technology is portable and more affordable. It’s possible for every family member to have their own iPhone, iPad and laptop.
This makes today’s teens and tweens the first generation of adolescents to learn lessons the hard way about what can happen when one impulsive text or post gets shared. What starts as a private message can quickly go public and spread like fire in a parched forest.
I don’t have answers, but I do have some thoughts. And if you’re ready to start or continue dialogue with your daughter regarding the sexting trend, feel free to share these with her.
10 Thinking Points for Girls
1. You were made for MORE than the lifestyle this world pushes on girls.
Your life purpose is to become a woman of God—not some hot & sexy thing for boys to lust over. Love says, “I can wait.” Lust says, “I have to have it now.” A boy who genuinely loves you won’t need a compromising picture of you. He’ll know you were made for more than that and recognize a beauty that runs deeper than appearance.
2. When you set a high bar for yourself, the best guys rise to the challenge.
One thing this generation needs is more girls willing to set high standards and not give boys what too many are asking for—i.e. hook-ups, casual sex and nude/semi-nude pictures. Girls, don’t stoop to the level of boys with these expectations; make them rise. Or better yet, look for boys who already hold themselves to high standards. These are the guys who will treat you well and go places in life. These are the protectors who will have your back.