These are all things we think of as children we have said or have heard others say. But what damage can be done with an innocent little secret? Too much damage, from what I have learned. The days of secrets involving a cute boy, or how mean a teacher is are long gone. At a younger age, our children are keeping secrets that should never be kept and this is causing harm. Harm to themselves, harm to their friends, harm to their families.
So how did this happen? I have been working with middle school girls for a few years now and have learned some eye-opening information. First of all, they feel stress and pressure from everywhere they go. And I am talking about 3rd, 4th and 5th graders. They are overscheduled by their parents who are trying to help them become well-rounded individuals and to keep them out of trouble. Many girls are in two sports, a musical instrument, tutoring as well as everyday school activities. They typically are getting home and beginning homework as late as 8 o’clock at night. There is no down time, time to chill out as a teenager or even to sit and talk about their day with their family. Conversations are done in the car running between activities and errands.
Then there is the pressure to be the best at all of these activities. Girls have told me they feel they have to be number one. They can’t be bad at anything they try and this includes their grades. Their parents expect the best from them and they can’t let them down.
Now if you remember middle school, there is the usual pressure of fitting in…trying to figure out where you fit and who you are. And not to mention the whole pressure of puberty. Can a girl get a break?
All this pressure, leads to secrets. Cause who can really be that perfect at everything? Nobody that’s who. Girls learn at a young age to hold it inside. Not to show they are weak..this is opposite of when I was a kid. They want to be as though they can handle anything and everything. They don’t want to let anyone down and they want to fit in everywhere. They will hold everything in, their feelings, their stress, their truth.
I have recently learned of a young girl who attempted suicide. Why? Who knows? She is only 10. I can’t imagine what could be so horrible in her world to do such a thing, but she did it. She planned it. It was intentional. She knew what she was doing and really wanted to do it. The pressures are all around. And then there are the older girls who are cutting themselves, and starving themselves, and making themselves sick just to be something they are not. I don’t understand and it frustrates the hell out of me. How can we reach them? How can we help them? Theres too much pressure on them and they don’t have an outlet to let it out and then it leads to this horrible pain. This pain then rolls over into friendships, family relationships and personal lives. They don’t end up only hurting themselves, it’s all around.
So is this their problem? Is it their families? I think it is all of ours. Our society has to make a change. This can’t go on with our youth or there won’t be any healthy happy adults to lead our world.
I know I want to do something. But I am still in search of how and what. Any ideas?