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Lauren Galley Headshot

It's Ok to Say No!

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Being a teenager in today's media driven society can magnify pressures that are not necessarily new to my generation but have made their way to the top of the list for tweens and teens of the Millennial generation. We are lured by media hype 24/7 as we covet the use of our smart phones, tablets, laptops and television. Whether it's fashion, alcohol or an ad campaign for bottled water, SEX is the go-to button for sales. Technology makes filtering for parents a bit more difficult as tweens and teens navigate numerous sites and applications oftentimes with little supervision. Young girls and boys are finding their "idols" through the media and we all know the sincerest form of flattery is imitation. Girls as young as 13 are having sex with boys not because they necessarily want to, but because they feel the need to keep up with their peers and would therefore be considered inferior if they said no. The desire to fit in and be accepted is quite common amongst adolescents. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this, however it is important to set firm boundaries and stay true to your values. Being in middle school and having a boyfriend in today's society means a girl has met a boy, most likely at school and they begin talking mostly via text. Several years ago when I was in eighth and ninth grade, it was not as likely for my peers to have synchronous conversations with each other. Most communication between teenagers is asynchronous, meaning there is time delayed between responses. This is true for texting and any form of social media.

By communicating primarily through asynchronous dialogue, true and meaningful relationships are incredibly difficult to develop. This causes girls to feel a false sense of love and attachment to their peers, particularly boys. Texting accelerates quickly to physical interaction which many times can lead to sex. Many teen girls feel that because a guy is texting her and she has been asked to be his girlfriend over text, they are now in a deep meaningful relationship. Usually it takes much longer than a week of dating someone to truly discover whether or not they are someone with whom you can truly see yourself with. Cementing the relationship on Facebook REALLY means they love each other... *cough* Sarcasm *cough*. Now we all know 13-15 year olds don't have a drivers license, so in order to go anywhere besides school they either have an older sibling, older friends or parents who are willing to take them to the movies, etc... Parents never want to believe their child could be sexually active and most parents do a good job of teaching their children positive morals and values, however, girls and boys are meeting at places as innocent as shopping malls and finding their way to privacy. They text, they plan, they meet, and they feel any sexual experience "cements" their relationship and voila, validation!

This is where we are at: Girl has new boyfriend. After four weeks of talking, texting, seeing each other at school and maybe once a week seeing each other outside of school they now consider themselves in love. The ability to separate love from sexual activities can change a girl's life. I believe the majority of teen girls are trying to emulate older siblings or friends, and the bombardment of media and TV sways their idea of what the definition of acceptance really is. It is possible to walk against the crowd while still being respected by your peers, and if they don't respect you then they don't deserve your time or friendship.

Many girls validate their self worth by how successful they are with a boy. I believe your self worth should be determined by how confident you are with yourself and the positive relationships you have with others. Even the best of the best can get caught up in being popular, accepted, and loved. However, as I have learned throughout high school and college, you get the most love and acceptance when you stay true to who you are.

I feel having sex at this age is a poor choice. Being a teenager is all about enjoying school, making friends, being involved in activities and most of all learning who you are and what direction you want to take in life. Not only do I want girls to feel confident in their self worth and hold true to their morals and values, I want teen girls to be more educated in the responsibilities of having sex. I feel most girls understand having sex at their age is not appropriate and ill advised. Parents tell their children "Don't have sex," "You're too young to have sex," "You'll get pregnant," etc.... I feel like teen girls should be taught the consequences of their actions in greater detail.  Teens feel invincible and you hear all the time "It won't happen to me."  I hear girls say "Wow, I never knew those statistics" or "Oh, I didn't know that would happen."

The statistics are enough to unnerve even the most grounded parent, which is why abstinence is so important for teens. However, knowledge is power and it's crucial that teens and parents understand the risks involved in catching an STD or becoming pregnant.
If a boy pressures you to become sexually active even though you have said no, STOP dating this boy. He clearly is not the one for you!

Enjoy being a teen! Enjoy school, try new hobbies, be a good friend. Having a boyfriend may seem like the most important thing, but don't make that your main focus and remember, if a boy really likes you he won't pressure you at all.
Success with a boy NEVER validates who you are!

Success with a boy NEVER validates who you are!

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