Aggressive Girls: A New Phenomenon or An Old Problem?
About the Guest
More and more parents are expressing concern about the number of young women actively pursing their sons. On today's broadcast, family expert Dennis Rainey sheds some light on this new phenomenon and coaches parents on what to do when they see it happening.
More and more parents are expressing concern about the number of young women actively pursing their sons.
Aggressive Girls: A New Phenomenon or An Old Problem?
Bob: If you're sending a son off to high school or even junior high, you need to make sure he is ready for what he may be facing. Here's Dennis Rainey.
Dennis: Teenage girls are brazen. They are initiating with guys at younger and younger ages, text messaging, e-mailing, there's sexual and relational aggressiveness toward younger and younger men, many times by older girls.
This is FamilyLife Today for Tuesday, March 25th. Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. Would your son know what to do if a young girl in his class started pressuring him and turning up the heat? Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us, and you've got that, "I'm going to stir thing up on the radio" look in your eyes.
Dennis: I do have a bit of a smirk.
Bob: A little twinkle. You wrote a book …
Dennis: Rattle the soapbox.
Bob: You wrote a book called "Interviewing Your Daughter's Dates," right?
Dennis: I did.
Bob: And you've talked to guys who bought the book and who have been doing that, they've been interviewing their daughter's dates, and you've heard some good stores, haven't you?
Dennis: I've heard some great stories. In fact, this is not what the broadcast is about today, but I've got to share this with our listeners, they just need to hear this. I had this one guy who read the book, and he goes, "Yeah, the eight principles. I'm afraid I will not be able to remember the eight questions I need to interact with the guy about," and so he got an idea, and he thought, "You know what? I'm going to write these on 3x5 cards," and so he stacked them up, and he didn't think it really looked intimidating enough, so he got an entire stack of 100 index cards and put the eight cards …
Bob: – on top, so that the young man is thinking, "We're going to be here for a while."
Dennis: I've had some great letters, and I just have to tell the dads and the moms, keep writing, keep letting us know about your story. There are some class stories, in fact. I think we ought to dedicate a broadcast sometime, Bob, just some of the great stories of how dads have been courageous and have stepped in with sweaty, clammy hands, have stared eyeball to eyeball with a young man who wants to take their daughter out.
Bob: You did get some e-mails from some listeners who said, "All right, this is helpful, but we have sons, and we've got a different problem on our hands."
Dennis: No doubt about it, and they were writing me, saying "Would you write a book on interviewing your sons' dates? And I just want to back all the way back up, Bob, because when I wrote the book, "Interviewing Your Daughter's Dates," I sent it to a dozen or so friends around the country, all dads who are raising daughters who – I just wanted to get their feedback, and they were all the way from the Left Coast to the Right Coast to – and you can figure out whichever coast that is depending upon where you live, but I sent it all across the land, and I got some e-mails back from some dads who said, "You know, this is really good. We got the example of interviewing a boy to date your daughter. What about interviewing a girl to date your son?" A very simple question.
Here is one that's a little more in detail from another constituent by the name of Jim. He said, "As former teenage boys, we both know that a sexually aggressive girl or even a Christian young lady with a solid moral foundation can lead a well-grounded Christian young man down the wrong path and derail years of training in a heartbeat. Our young ladies must also understand their accountability for their actions and being accepting of their responsibility to help our young men maintain their moral purity."
And it goes on to say, you know, there's two sides to the dating equation. You need to address the parents who are raising sons in this sexually aggressive culture.
Bob: And do you think that's the case? Do you think that teenage girls are being more aggressive when it comes to their relationships with members of the opposite sex.
Dennis: Bob, as I look back on it, I would say it's at least twice as prevalent today as it was when I was raising teenage boys, maybe three times. Based upon my conversations with parents, what I’m seeing on the Internet, television, what my research is telling me, I think we have a serious problem, and we're sending our sons off to the slaughter without them being equipped.
And so, really, what I wanted to do here on FamilyLife Today was just get very practical and talk about the problem, why it is a problem, and then really focus on the majority of our time talking about what must we do about it as parents of teenage boys and, really, earlier than that, to equip them to be able to handle what's taking place today.
Well, okay, what are you seeing? Or, as you talk to parents, what are you hearing that's going on that you say is causing things to be two to three times more aggressive than they were in an earlier era?
Dennis: Well, girls are calling guys, they're initiating with guys at younger and younger ages, text messaging, e-mailing, groups of girls are getting together and, I'm being told by parents, targeting young men.
There are some of them who are even out to seduce young men, in fact, one young man was sitting in class one day, and a girl leaned over and whispered in his ear and said, "I want to have sex with you." This was a junior high youngster, and you start asking yourself the question – how many junior high young men, or shall we call them boys, which are they? I'm not quite sure at that point – how many of them are really prepared for that type of activity?
In fact, some of the e-mails that have come in, Bob, and in my personal conversations with parents, they use words, and a lot of these words are coming from moms – that teenage girls are brazen, they are aggressive, they are after, they're hitting, they are preying on my son, and, frankly, they're concerned. There's sexually and relational aggressiveness toward younger and younger men many times by older girls preying on these young men.
Bob: And it's interesting, if you do spend any time on MySpace or Facebook or any of these social networking sites, and you see the home pages of some of the teenage girls, they're presenting themselves as being available and interested to anyone who is on the Internet, basically. It's kind of a frightening thing to see.
Dennis: You know, and we're not talking about all young ladies, certainly, but you know what? We need to address the issue of what's taking place with the aggressiveness of teenage girls and boys.
Bob: Why do you think this is throttling up the way it is? What is going on in the heart of a young girl that's causing her to be more assertive?
Dennis: Let me just give you a quick overview of what I think is happening. First of all, I think the culture is supporting it. I think, secondly, I think we have a whole generation of young men who are confused in their own sexual identity and, as a result, the girls are trying to find their north star and how they relate to guys.
Third, I think the breakdown of the family has resulted in a whole generation of daughters who have been abandoned, and in the absence of an emotional healthy attachment to their father and their mother, they are looking to fill their emotional gas tank with the opposite sex.
Bob: Do you think it's primarily a father/daughter connection there that's been broken, or can it be mother/daughter as well?
Dennis: I think it can be all of the above, but I do think the father is very important there.
There is a fourth reason, and that's that I think – and this is going to stun some of our audience, that I would pick on this group, but I think youth groups are being led increasingly by younger believers, and they don't have the spiritual maturity nor the discernment or understanding of what's taking place in our society to steer our young people away from these relationships.
Bob: You're talking about a level of wisdom or, I think, in some cases, it's naivete, where a young man who is leading a youth group has the best of intentions and has a good heart and wants to see these kids come to know Christ, and …
Dennis: no doubt about it.
Bob: But he just doesn't understand, really, all that's going on in the dynamics of the interactions between boys and girls in the group.
Dennis: We'll talk about it more, but there are tons of fine young men and young women leading youth groups today, and I'm certainly not saying all, but I'm saying there are some who are leading youth groups, and I think the real bottom line on this, Bob, it's a combination of spiritual maturity and the fact that these youth group leaders are not parents. They have not taken care of raising a young person through junior high on into high school.
Bob: I'll tell you a quick story. I heard about one youth group where they were on a weekend getaway for the youth group, and it was a beautiful spring evening, and some of the girls came and said, "instead of sleeping in our cabin, can we just take our sleeping bags out on the tennis courts and just sleep out under the stars?" and the youth group leader said, "Yeah, I guess that's fine."
Well, the boys heard about that, and they said, "That sounds cool. Can we take our sleeping bags and just go sleep out under the stars?" And the youth group leader said, "Yeah, I guess it's okay, as long as you stay on this side of the net, and you stay on this side of the net."
Dennis: Oh, sure.
Bob: Yeah, that's some of that naiveté, and you can understand how a guy off on a weekend retreat just says, "Yeah, this sounds harmless," but they're just not thinking 360 degrees."
Dennis: Well, he wasn't thinking like a parent, you know, and the reality was I didn't approve of that, because that was my daughter who went on that youth group retreat.
Bob: I was trying to protect her identity, but …
Dennis: I understand, but, you know, nothing happened.
Dennis: I mean, well, anyway, we'll get back to this in a minute.
The last reason that I think this is happening is, and I think this is the core, is there's little or no preparation for adolescence occurring among parents of preteens. And let's face it, all of us who are adults who are listening to this broadcast have been through adolescence. Our voices have matured, they are no longer squeaking, girls have become women, but how did we get through that experience?
And, Bob, you use the illustration, you ask parents of preteens, "How many of you would like your children to have the same experience you had in adolescence?" There aren't many hands that go up.
So I think the key to this is providing training to understand their hormones, the culture, the peer pressure, what's happening in them, what's happening with the opposite sex, and that's why we have to have resources like Passport to Purity, and So You Want to be a Teenager. Read through these books and go through these weekend experiences with them so that your teenager has the kind of grounding from the Scripture that anchors their heart to withstand the cultural and peer pressure winds.
Bob: And you can teach and train and equip your preteens, and you can stay with them through the teen years, and they may still wind up in some trouble, but, I'll tell you what, if you don't teach and equip and train, and you just send them off to figure it out on their own, they will learn from Britney Spears and Paris Hilton and whoever else they see on TV, and so they go do it.
Let me ask you about the youth group thing, because you said some hard things there about youth groups. Did your kids go to youth group when they were …
Dennis: Sure, uh-huh.
Bob: And so you're not …
Dennis: Excellent, outstanding youth groups, some of the finest teaching that you could ever hope that a young person would receive.
Bob: Now, you know that there are some folks who are saying, "We need to start a movement today to just kind of get rid of youth groups and not have them in churches, and they're destructive and harmful and just the very thing you were saying. We ought to just shut the youth group down.
Dennis: Well, you know, here is what I do believe, Bob. I believe that parents need to be parents, and I believe mothers and fathers need to own the responsibility for the spiritual instruction of their children.
Yes, they can supplement it with a young group, but I'm going to tell you something, the teenage years are dangerous years, and just because a bunch of teenagers get together under the banner of a youth group doesn't mean all those teenagers are sanctified, holy children of God. I'm telling you, those young people, they're trying to find out who they are, and they've got the same urges and desires and lusts that you and I did when we were teenagers, and they're herding up in larger youth groups than ever before, and I think what parents can tend to do is to go to sleep at the wheel and forget, you know what? I, father; I, mother; I am the primary provider of spiritual instruction and moral instruction for my children. And if I don't own it, it's not going to happen.
Bob: Yeah, but, if you do own it, you raised four girls, in this culture, you better prepare your daughters for loneliness, because if you train them not to be assertive and aggressive, they're going to spend a lot of time at home on Friday and Saturday night in their room crying.
Dennis: Waiting for the phone to ring.
Bob: And it's all your fault, Daddy.
Dennis: You know, here's the thing – I think there are four "musts" that parents need to do today, and there's more than four, by the way, but these are just four that I see are very, very important. If you're going to raise a daughter in this culture, number one, equip her with a biblical, healthy perspective of her sexuality; God's view of her sexuality as a woman.
And, by the way, it's more than just her body, it's her behavior, it's how she dresses, it's how she acts, it's whether she flirts or not, and whether you train your daughter to flirt, or you actually perhaps pull back a bit or whether you perhaps edit your daughter's flirting and warn her that that's not healthy.
Bob: How do you edit her flirting? What do you mean?
Dennis: Well, I think young ladies need instruction. I think when they are too friendly with the opposite sex, they need to be told.
Bob: You need to call them over and say, "Sweetheart, don't" …
Dennis: Maybe not at the time, no, but later on kind of rehearse it and relive it and talk about what that does to guys and what is appropriate in terms of a young lady being friendly with a young man.
Bob: All right.
Dennis: I'm not talking about being rude, I'm just talking about not being overly friendly or overly aggressive and letting a young girl get away with it. You wouldn't allow your son to be overly aggressive sexually with a young lady, would you?
Bob: And when your daughter says, "Dad, everybody acts like this. Boys don't think anything about it."
Dennis: Well, you would say at that point, "Not everybody does, because our family has its boundaries, and this family is going to be a family that marches to a different drumbeat than all the others, okay?"
Secondly, this is a tough one– model what you teach to your daughters, and I'm talking about here the moms need to dress appropriately they way they would want their teenage daughters to dress when – how shall we say it? The young lady has matured, all right?
I'm going to tell you something. There is a mixed signal that is sent when a mom is calling attention to her body or wears clothes that are V-neck, too low, showing inappropriate portions of her body in front of her daughters.
There are some moms I'd – actually, what I'd like to do is put my arm around their husband and say, "Have you not said, have you not told your wife how men think?" And if a woman is dressing that way for her husband, then dress that way privately. Don't dress that way in public because you're sending a signal to your daughters that this is how you get the attention of young men.
I know that from the trends in fashion, what I'm talking about here moves us borderline back to the Victorian Age, but, you know what? If we don't have some differences in the way we dress in the culture, then I think we're blending in too much, and I think we're playing to the sexual power piece of young ladies who are growing up.
A third thing, a third must, if you were a dad, you must give your daughter words of affection and hugs of affection – warm hugs, gentle kisses that let her know she is sweet, you're her daddy and you know what? No matter how big she gets or how mature she is, you're never going to stop giving her those words and giving her those hugs. No matter how threatening it may be, as a man, to do that as your daughter matures, I think we have to let them know that there is a wholesome love of words and affection that occurs within a family that's good.
And then, finally, number four, if your daughter does display seductive behavior, and you're watching this occur, number one, you should begin to pray about how you should instruct and teach and help her and correct her and then begin to train her and warn her about what is appropriate, and this can be everything from how she looks at guys to the makeup she wears to the clothing she wears or doesn't wear, and literally instructy your daughter as to how she goes about this.
One of the things I did with my daughters that I think really preserved and protected them from being aggressive with guys is I never stopped dating them.
Bob: All the way through high school?
Dennis: Yeah, I started dating them when they were three or four years of age, built that relationship. We'd go have fun, and, in fact, if – and I've talked about this on the broadcast – I don't really have a lot of regrets, but I do wish I'd had more dates, you know, with six children it's hard to get around to every one on a regular basis, but those dates build a relationship between a father and a daughter in a very simple way but in a – I think in a protective way. And in this culture, I think these young ladies need that relationship with their daddy.
Bob: You know, you talked about the importance of dating your daughter in your book, "Interviewing Your Daughter's Dates," which was kind of the flip side of the coin here. You were writing to help dads know how they can protect their daughters from young men who may come on a little too strong, right?
Dennis: That's right.
Bob: And what we've been talking today is the opposite side – what can we do, as parents, to help our sons be ready for this phenomenon of aggressive girls, and if our listeners are interested, we've got these programs available on CD. There are also transcripts of these programs on our website at FamilyLife.com, and you can contact us to review this material to get these CDs. Maybe it's something you'd listen to together with your sons as you're out driving around back and forth to school.
I think this would be a great conversation starter for a parent and a young teenage son to listen to together and engage in some dialog on the subject. Again, you can get the CDs from us here at FamilyLife. Go to our website, which is FamilyLife.com, and on the right side of the screen, you will see a button that says "Today's Broadcast." If you click there, it will take you to an area of the site where there is more information about ordering these CDs.
There is also information about your book, "Interviewing Your Daughter's Dates," and that's available both as a hardback book and as an audiobook. So if you're a parent, and you're raising teenage girls, you may want to get that book. If you're raising teenage boys, you want to get the CDs of these programs and listen to all of this together with your sons and your daughters.
Again, our website is FamilyLife.com, and if you're interested in these resources, click the box on the right side of the home page that says "Today's Broadcast," and that will take you to an area of the site where there is more information about these resources and other resources available from us here at FamilyLife.
If it's easier, you can call 1-800-FLTODAY to request more information about these resources or to order them over the phone – 1-800-358-6329. That number again is 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY.
You know, as we try to address these issues each day, we turn to the Scriptures to find God's wisdom on the subjects that we're talking about. In fact, on tomorrow's program, we're going to be looking at the Proverbs have to say to a young man about guarding his heart, and we want to see families develop that habit of looking to the Scriptures to see what God's Word has to say on all kinds of issues related to marriage and family.
And for the past year, we have been working on a project that has just now come off the presses. It's the FamilyLife Marriage Bible. It's in the New King James Version, and it's a devotional Bible for couples to read through together and alongside the text of Scripture, there are articles related to marriage and family; issues related to parenting; romantic tips and quotes and notes; there is a copy of a document we've created called "The Family Manifesto," that's like a concise doctoral statement on marriage and family issues.
We are very excited about this FamilyLife Marriage Bible, and this month we are making the Bible available for listeners who will support the ministry of FamilyLife with a donation of any amount. When you go to our website at FamilyLife.com or call us at 1-800-FLTODAY and make a donation, we want to invite you to request a copy of these Bible. We're happy to send it to you as our way of saying thank you for your support of this ministry. We are listener-supported, and without those contributions we could not continue to be on this station and on other stations all across the country.
So if you're making a donation online, and you'd like to receive a copy of the FamilyLife Marriage Bible, when you come to the keycode box on the donation form, just type the word "Bible" into that box, and we'll send you a copy of this new Bible, or call 1-800-FLTODAY, make a donation over the phone and request a copy of the new FamilyLife Marriage Bible. Again, we appreciate your financial support, and we're happy to send a copy of this Bible to you as a way of saying thank you for your partnership with us.
Now, tomorrow we're going to look specifically at what the Bible has to say about the issue of aggressive young women and how a father or a mother can warn a son to be on guard against a woman who might be pursuing him. I hope you can be with us for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We'll see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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