Teen years for girls today are a period of real danger. Girls entering puberty often face a "crisis in confidence" which makes them vulnerable to risky behavior, and these bad choices can have devastating lifelong consequences. Find out how mentors can help teenage girls survive the risky years and how you can find a mentor for your teenage daughter or become a mentor yourself.
Somewhere to turn
The answer? Female mentors -- someone girls can trust who isn't Mom or Dad. "You must point your daughter toward a trustworthy role model - an aunt, a cousin, a grandmother, a Girl Scout leader, a teacher, a friend, or some other responsible caring woman," she says, "because your daughter's survival depends on it.
"One of the most rewarding relationships is when a mother steps forward to mentor her daughter's best friend. Some mothers "cross-mentor" each other's daughters. Some cities have organized mentoring programs for girls."
The crisis years
The most important thing a mentor can do is to listen and to lead by example. She isn't there to judge, punish or condemn. And as crucial as her role becomes, it is a temporary one -- a mentor will never replace a mother. According to Echevarria, "The mother/daughter bond will remain a dominant force in your daughter's life for as long as she walks on this earth." Indeed, she suggests that one of the most rewarding relationships is formed when a mother reaches out to mentor her daughter's best friend. Some mothers "cross-mentor" each other's daughters.
"Whether she likes it or not, whether she means to or not, whether it's fair or not, your daughter now makes a sexual statement every time she walks into a room that contains other people," Echevarria writes. "Girls find themselves pigeonholed by males (young and old) who make assumptions about sexuality based on the prominence of a young woman's breasts." Today's changing society makes it even tougher for girls to adjust to their own changing bodies. "Girls are struggling with media manipulation, uncertain moral standards, self-loathing arising from impossible standards of physical beauty, heavy peer pressure concerning sexuality and substance abuse, and a host of sobering academic and career dilemmas," she says. (Continued...)