38% of girls ages 8 to 12 told us they’re jealous of the way other girls look.
You can help your parents understand you more!
“Why would you need a cell phone? We didn’t even have cell phones when I was your age!” Sound like something your parents would say? It might seem like they just don’t get the pressures you face. Problems with friends, schoolwork, and technology, plus fashion trends to keep up with…that stuff would stress out even the most together adult! Don’t worry—you can help them relate to you better. But it will be easier if you understand how much has changed since they were kids. Read on…
“Parents don’t understand what it’s like to deal with the urge to be popular. When kids started dating last year, I went to my mom, totally confused. She said that though all my friends were acting boy crazy, it would cool off. I wish parents knew that doing the right thing or being patient isn’t as easy as they make it sound.” -Carleen, age 11, Calif.
The social scene can be exhausting! First it takes work to keep all of your friends happy. One day Kelly and Lisa get along just fine, then the next day they’re fighting…and you’re in the middle! Then you have to deal with cliques, popularity, and gossip. Or maybe you feel invisible to the cool kids, and spend a lot of time trying to fit in with them. Did your parents live in a gossip-and-pressure-free world as kids? Of course not! But adults sometimes forget a fight with a friend can turn your whole world upside down…mostly because they have a lot more on their minds these days, like work and bills. They’re probably right when they say, “It’ll blow over.” Most things do! But that doesn’t make it any less stressful.
“Self-esteem issues are big for us. Sometimes I feel like we are more worried about being liked than we are about more important things, such as schoolwork. Parents just need to understand that things are not easy for us and be open to talking about these things without getting upset with us.” -Taylor, age 12, Ariz.
Celebrities are everywhere you look—on TV, online, in magazines—and they always look amazing. School can feel like a mini-Hollywood. If your hair isn’t as shiny as Selena Gomez’s or if you wear a hand-me-down shirt from your sister, you might feel like you’re not good enough. And looks are just one part of it; you also want to do your best in school and sports. Our culture constantly tells us to buy more things and be better than we are. It wasn’t like that 25 years ago. Without the Internet and cable TV, your parents didn’t see a constant stream of advertising, and they weren’t as celeb-obsessed either. Nowadays there are a lot of messages influencing kids, and it’s near impossible to completely tune it out.
There are things you have to do, like homework and family activities. Then there’s all the stuff you want to do, like sports, dance lessons, band, Girl Scouts…maybe belly dancing, who knows! The point is you’re busy. Sometimes you just want to chill and be a kid, but your schedule doesn’t always allow it. As soon as you get a break, it’s time to study for a test. Your parents likely didn’t have as many choices for activities growing up. Maybe your mom had a dance class twice a week, and on the other days she hung out with friends. As she might point out, you’re lucky to have so many opportunities, but it can all be a little overwhelming—especially when you’re trying to be the best at everything you do.
“If only my parents knew how much of girls’ lives today revolve around technology. For example, there’s texting, MySpace, iPods, video games and online chat rooms. I’m not allowed to use or have access to any of those things. But, I know that many girls are.” -Eleanor, age 11, Ariz.
This is by far the biggest change from then to now. Gadgets rule the world, from computers and cell phones to iPods and PS3s. And technology moves so fast! As soon as you buy one thing, there’s a newer version out. A lot of parents think it’s dangerous for kids to be part of all that. They worry you’ll go text-crazy with your phone, or talk to the wrong people online. It makes sense they’d be nervous. They hear a lot of horror stories about things that can go wrong. Every adult knows someone whose kids ran up a massive phone bill. The Internet can be scary because there’s just so much they can’t control—whether you see violence or talk to bad people, for example. Still, when other kids are plugged in, of course you’ll want to be, too.
All the letters we received have one thing in common: You want the adults in your world to understand you’re dealing with a lot of emotions. Even if you seem angry with them, you just want them to get how tough these problems can be; to really hear you, and then help you deal with them. Changing the way you communicate might help:
Keep them in the loop. If you mom doesn’t know Cathy starts rumors all the time, she won’t understand why it’s such a big deal that she was looking at you while laughing with Jessica. Tell her about your life as it happens and she’ll have an easier time relating to how you feel.
Understand them first. Say, “I understand things were different when you were a kid, but I’d like to explain what it’s like for me.” They’ll be impressed by your mature attitude, and it might open their minds a bit so they can really help. In the end, that’s all they want to do.
Remind them that you see things differently. We all learn new ways to deal with things as we get older. If your mom says, “You’ll feel much better tomorrow,” she’s not saying your problem isn’t real—she’s just trying to share what she’s learned over time. Try this: “I know it may seem like I should just let this blow over, but I feel upset and I need an ear.”
Be patient. Even if these ideas don’t help at first, don’t storm off and slam a door. Then you’ll have the problem you started with and a new one with your parents. Focus on how you feel. Say, “I feel like you don’t get how hard this is for me,” not “You don’t care what I think—you’re just trying to blow me off!” People—even parents—close off when they feel attacked. Even if it doesn’t feel like it, your parents really are on your side. They just see things differently, because they’re older. So help them out. Do your best to communicate your feelings clearly, and they’ll do everything they can to help you deal with all the crazy stresses in your life.”
Originally printed in Discovery Girls magazine. Share this with your daughter.