Girls struggle emotionally when their romantic ideas involving a particular boy go astray. A new study reveals that for adolescent girls, having a romantic relationship that plays out differently than they imagined has negative implications for their mental health. In fact, the study suggested that girls risked depression, thoughts of suicide and suicide attempts when their relationships diverged from what they imagined, states the study’s author, Brian Soller, an assistant professor of sociology. This same effect was not seen in boys.
Dr. Soller tried to make sense of why girls suffer such consequences when the ideas in their head do not match what happens in reality with their relationships. For some girls, romantic relationships are an important component to developing their identity, and are closely related to how good they feel about themselves. When their relationships go badly it affects their emotional wellbeing. Boys build their identities around sports or other activities, and therefore it doesn’t have as significant an impact.
This is one reason hookups are so detrimental to a girl’s self-esteem and identity. In a recent article, Paula England PH.D suggests hook-ups prioritize male pleasure. Girls may desire romance and relationships mistakenly believing engaging in a hookup will help her achieve the relationship she has always wanted. They are later devastated when they realize the hook-up meant nothing to the boy other than casual sex.
Sex apps are everywhere, but one in the news recently is the Tinder App. Tinder is an app for adults, and it’s commonly viewed as one that facilitates casual hookups rather than friendships or long-term partnerships. The designer of the app says it’s not a place children should be allowed. When the app was first released about 90% of the users were between 18 and 24 years old. Now that number has dropped to over 7% of the users being 13 year of age to 17. This is a dangerous app for tweens and teens since the person they are talking to can pinpoint them to within a mile of where they live. From there it is not difficult to understand how dangerous this is for young girls. As of late Tinder has made a statement that parents should know, and block this app, as well as others, that offer a place where the platform is mostly adults seeking other adults.
Apps such as Tinder and other hookup apps place parents and their children in a precarious position. How can parents safeguard their children at all times? They cannot, but they can make changes that will help their children understand the consequences and how to make healthier choices on and offline.
Below are suggestions for raising a daughter who spends less time validating her emotional wellbeing by experiencing the ideal romantic relationship to one who lives a more passionate, interesting life engaging in activities that will build her confidence and self-esteem.
- Talk to your children about safety on the internet. Tweens and teens do not fully understand the concept permanence in regards to what they post, as well as the people who can view what they write.
- Build your daughters’ identities around interests other than romantic relationships. Encourage sports, travel, volunteer work, hobbies, careers, art, animals and or the sciences.
- Encourage development of friendships and relationships among a variety of people rather than online only. Focusing on friendships builds healthy relationships.
- Put more of your parenting focus on what your child does, and how they treat others rather than how your child looks. Self-worth or validation should never involve how pretty, skinny, or desirable you are. It should be built on character.
- Encourage your child to try activities in school even if they may fail. When parents embrace failure as a learning tool, kids take more chances and try new things, all of which build confidence.
Parents are the key in building strong resilient children. Talking to your children and knowing what your kids are doing on and offline is a must for knowing how best to encourage them while protecting them as well.