This week I’ve been talking with moms of teen girls about self concept, self confidence, and mental health. Reading from Dr. Leonard Sax’s book, Girls on the Edge, we found some thought provoking information. It’s Dr. Sax’s opinion that there are more and more girls who’re “brittle, susceptible even to a mild jolt.” He goes on to point out that between 1996 and 2005, the proportion of girls and women in the U.S. taking anti-depressants has doubled such that more than 1 in every 8 U.S. females takes anti-depressants. A researcher named Jean Twenge believes that part of the reason for girls’ changing mental health has to do with social connectedness. She suggests that lack of social trust is THE highest predictor of anxiety.
Girls, having trouble with no social connection? you may ask. When the average number of texts per day is about 70! But Dr. Sherry Turkel, director of MIT’s Initiative on Technology and Self, points out that virtual contact may not equate with genuine, soul-feeding connection. In fact, Dr. Turkel suggest, such constant “contact” may put girls at greater risk since they never get a break, a breather, any alternative perspective. What looks like connection may actually be something like a diet of cotton candy.
Which brought to mind my mom and me. In middle school, if I got to feeling down in the dumps, she’d say, “What you need is to go do something for someone else!” In fact, she’d been known to threaten to lock me out of the house until I did. So, I grumbled out the door feeling doubly dejected, only to encounter the little kids next door who always wanted me to read them a story. . . or cross the street to our elderly neighbor’s home, Mrs. Cushman. She was often lonely, having lost her beloved husband. . . eager to talk or offer a cookie. Invariably, I returned with
- a shift of focus OFF of myself
- an action which helped me see the needs of others
- a pat on the back or word of appreciation for being such a good kid (if they’d only known!)
And that brings us to The Green Bean Queen. (It makes me proud that she’s from Texas!) How many of us endured the slings of teasing? How many of us were blessed with folks around us, beyond our family, who thought we were great? And how many of us remember, many years later, how it felt to overcome those set backs and become who we really are, to define ourselves?
Why not share this with a Green Bean Queen (or King) at your house tonight?