In the past several years I have noticed a shift with young girls and relationships. The common plot scene in movies are groups of pre-teen girls swooning and giggling as well as staring at the “forbidden to like” high school senior who happens to walk by them giving them his smile. Not anymore.
Today, those same girls are not just being swooned and staring, but are starting to connect with older boys and men into their adulthood for that so called love relationship.
I have met and talked to quite a few girls ranging from ages 12 to 22 years-old who have dated or are secretly in a relationship with men that have an age difference spanning from 9-26 years of age. I asked them if they could explain to me their reasons as to why they would be in a relationship with such a big age gap.
These were some of their answers.
1. Boys my age are too immature
2. Boys my age only want sex
3. Boys my age don’t know what they want to do in life
4. Boys my age are mostly interested in sports or video games
5. Boys my age are stupid
6. Boys my age don’t care what a girl thinks
7. Boys my age can’t handle a girl like me
8. Boys my age don’t like to have a conversation
9. Boys my age hate girls
10. Boys my age can’t drive
It has been well documented that girls mature much faster than boys and then slow down around the age of 18-21 whereas boys of that age are just getting started.
To no fault of her own, there have been a lot of studies covering the fact that girls are entering into their hormonal menstruating stage much earlier than thought which elevates her emotional state to a more critical period in her life. Hence, they often feel that they are more mentally mature than their physical age.
Sadly, what also comes with this is her overwhelming insecurities on body and self-esteem issues which can wreak havoc on a young girl’s view of herself and leads her to a very vulnerable place.
Although these would be typical issues that most parents deal with, what is not so typical to parents are that more and more pre-teen/teenage girls are moving on from their peer age group of the opposite sex towards the more mature boy (man) that will meet her needs.
So what are her needs? This is what they had to say.
– I want a guy who looks fit and can be my protector
– I want a guy who can take me wherever I want
– I want a guy who is interested in my mind and likes to talk
– I want a guy who is tender sexually
– I want a guy who can understand me
– I want a guy who is at my level
– I want a guy that is romantic
– I want a guy that doesn’t live off of games and sports
What young girls do not realize is that by setting themselves up and acting upon these entertaining and fantasized notions will open the door to hurtful and even dangerous situations with lifelong regrets such as:
– Pregnancy and STD’s
– Physical and Mental Abuse
– Lowered self-esteem and body issues
– Porn victim
– Sexual Abuse/rape
– Sex trafficking
I have already seen a few personally, as well as publicly, the effects of these types of relationships and it happens in the best of homes.
Internationally, society in different cultures has been more acceptable of this trend. However, that does not mean it is acceptable in general. Even in other cultures where it is common, most young girls wished they weren’t in these circumstance but were also not given a choice.
This issue has a two-fold problem. There is not enough teaching given to young girls about the severity of relationships such as this and many times parents are just not aware of a relationship in the first place.
So what do we do as parents when you come across a situation such as this?
If you have a young adult daughter, you can show her and tell her how much you love her and support her. However, she must be made aware that although she makes her own decisions, you do not support the relationship in itself.
In a loving way, give her reasons (statistics, problems within a regular marriage, age gap issues) on why it doesn’t always work out. Let her that you care of her and are concerned for her welfare and want to be actively involved in her life as well as keeping doors of communication open. This is tricky and you must pray this through carefully.
There are no true answers other than to pray that she is protected and for her blinders to be removed in order for her to see the truth that this type of relationship will end in hurt. You can also encourage counseling for the both of you as a way of showing support.
For young pre-teen and teen girls, it is a very different story. First course of action is counseling for the daughter. Second – is to try to cut off how much they see, call, text, etc… with that person if possible. Third – is to actively get involved and talk directly with that person who has your daughter’s attention. Fourth – Get other parents involved – talk to the boy/man’s parents to get their support in changing the course of this relationship immediately.
If things do not change you have the authority to get more serious and have the police involved because we are talking about a minor and an adult in a relationship. You may even have to skip all of the previous paragraph and get immediate action by contacting the police if this relationship is sexual. But also be prepared for serious rebelling on your daughter’s end because you just killed her love life. She will not understand and will be very angry which is why it is IMPERATIVE that you seek counseling for her.
For some of you, please understand that by doing all of this and there are no change or results, you need to get on your knees and pray. We can do everything we can to protect them and help them see the truth, and they can also still make the worst of mistakes in the name of what they perceive is love.
However, take courage. I have witnessed many families in these circumstances who have come out of it rejoicing with daughters whose hearts have been restored and healed from problematic relationships.
Colossians 2:2-3 (NIV, paraphrased)
My goal is that these parents may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete discernment and understanding in this situation, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
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