Recently I read a post from a young woman that brought me to tears. I know her and to me she is a beautiful, gifted young woman, with amazing gifts. You would never know from the outside, all she has struggled with privately. It began for her in middle school as she struggled with her self-image. Through her teen years she shared of her deep depression, thoughts of suicide, the cutting, and the desperation she felt. As a freshman in college, she is doing much better. She has learned to let go of perfect, is opening up to her Christian friends, and is learning more about how very much God loves her.
I called my adult daughters, Jennifer and Natalie, who have both worked in girl’s ministry. I got their input for this post. Here is our list of the top needs of teen girls.
1. Someone to listen to them. To really listen and understand. A safe place for them to share how they feel and to help them navigate how they feel.
2. Someone to tell them often and regularly that they are remarkably and wonderfully made by God (see Ps. 139:13–14).
3. Someone to call out the gifts God has given them and give them an opportunity to use them. They need to feel confident in who they are and the gifts they have.
4. Permission to make a “B”. A place where letting go of perfect is encouraged and grace is freely given. (I prayed for my oldest daughter, Jennifer, to make a “B” when she was in college. I told her I was praying and why. She got the “B” and we still laugh about it. She was able to let go of perfect.)
5. At least one or two very close friends. (Parents need to have open homes where friends can come over to invest in relationships for their teens. Also, a healthy youth ministry provides an opportunity to build healthy friendships.)
6. Someone that prays for them specifically and they know it.
7. A father or substitute father who will set an example of how a boy should treat a girl.
8. They need to hear, “I’m sorry. Please forgive me.”
9. Adult women who will be real, authentic role models and mentors for them.
10. Need a Bible and a journal. A journal can be a safe place to work out all they are experiencing on the journey through the teen years. God’s Word will give them the foundation for everything.
12. Laughter and times just to have fun.
13. They need and want boundaries and responsibilities. It builds security and self-worth.
14. They need Mom to be Mom and not try to be a friend or peer.
15. Their home to be a safe place of security, peace, and acceptance, where they can be loved unconditionally.
16. A home where they see real, authentic faith lived out daily not a faith that is only seen on Sunday.
I want to invest more of my time in mentoring young girls/women. Would you join me in investing in the next generation? Ask a teen girl(s) what they need and share it with us.