I don’t often watch the Dr. Phil show anymore. I feel like he has become too interested in sensational stories and ratings. Many of his shows are about people with such extreme behavior that I fail to see how his advice to them relates to the rest of us, but that’s just my opinion. Gary had the show on yesterday and when I finished a phone conversation with a friend I listened for a moment as a pretty young guest described her sexual encounters with twenty-five year old men. She was fifteen! And the appalling part was that she was voluntarily seeking out these men at malls and stores. She found nothing wrong with her behavior or her scantily-clad body or her arrogant attitude. I won’t go into any more details, but the show ended with offers of serious psychological counseling for both the girl and her mother, and I hope they get it.
The young girl’s blunt explanations for her behavior gave me shivers of dread and made me sick at my stomach for all the girls I know in this generation, including my own granddaughter. They see so much blatant sexuality on television and all around them. They hear so much from movies and music. Our society has such a casual attitude about so many sins that it must be easy for them to assume that they know all there is to know about the world. In fact, I heard something on television yesterday that I didn’t know anything about until I was at least twenty-five, and there it was on daytime television for any ten year old to hear and understand.
The big problem with all this information and the assumption of our young girls that they are knowledgeable about the world is that they overlook the most important piece of data they need in order to function in the world of adults. They need to know who they are.
Dr. Phil asked his young guest to tell him about herself and she could not respond except with descriptions of how she felt when guys paid attention to her, or how much she likes the way she looks. It was as though there wasn’t a person inside that lovely shell!
Oh, how I remember wanting to be pretty, wanting to be liked, wanting to belong to the group of popular kids. And yes, I did some regrettable things when I was a teenager. We all did. However, I think what saved me from going over to the “dark side” and getting lost in that behavior was the realization that I was a person with skills and intelligence and interests. My parents and teachers and true friends had always encouraged me to be someone and to do something other than stand around and look cute. Even though I went through the ups and downs of self-doubt and tried to mold my behavior to make others like me, I eventually found myself and became confident that there were people who accepted me for who I was inside. But that process took years. I was probably twenty-five before I had even a modicum of the confidence and competence I needed to really feel like an adult! And I had already been married- twice- and had three children. A fifteen year old has not reached that point yet!
I look at this old high school photo and think about how ignorant I was about the world around me. I knew so little! As my grandmother was fond of saying, “I didn’t even know enough to know what I didn’t know!” And I certainly didn’t know much about that young girl looking back at me from the mirror. I hope and pray that the young girls in your life give themselves time to grow up and appreciate who they are before they try to please the rest of the world.