Dear Sugar Plum,
Soon you will start having crushes. You’ll want to go on dates. You’ll be up late stretching your thumbs’ capacity for movement by furiously texting out adorable emoji proclamations to that dreamy boy or girl. And your body and mind will be so out of sync that you won’t know what to do with yourself, physically or emotionally.
BEING A TEENAGER IS HARD. So that being said, I have a short list of things that I will remind you of, surely to your immediate disapproval and embarrassment, and I will suffer through the eye rolls and scoffs and endless “But mooooom!”s that will accompany these reminders. And I will just hope I’ve given you the tools to navigate this ridiculous time in your life and to carry you forward to a somewhat healthy, happy life.
Your. Body. Is. Your. Own
YOU get to decide who you let into your personal bubble, free of harassment, coercion, or threats. If a date/crush/SO pressures you, tries to coerce you, manipulates you, or harasses you into doing something that you don’t want to do or don’t feel ready for, then they aren’t worthy of your time.
Sex is Great!
But I promise you aren’t ready to handle the emotional or physical stuff that comes along with it. You will be, someday, and you will enjoy the good, the bad, and the awkward… just not right now. I promise it isn’t worth it.
Independence is Amazing!
If a partner wants to be a sloth on you, demands access to you all the time, wants to know what you are doing all the time, demands your passwords or access to your social media accounts, ABORT MISSION. It is completely normal to do your own thing sometimes, to want space or quiet time, to focus on school or sports or art without being conjoined at the hip with an SO. This kind of smothering is a giant red flag.
I Love You No Matter What. Period.
If you are non-binary, bi, lesbian, or pan, I will love you. If you act like a jerk to people like this, I will love you a little less (just kidding! But seriously, no H8).
Now for some heavier stuff, because we as a society can’t ignore that these things happen.
Relationship Advice From Your Mom
Too many teens experience dating violence, including physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. In fact, 1 in 3 teens reports experiencing one of these forms of dating violence. That’s a lot of people your age being treated badly. That isn’t love, it’s control – and it’s not ok.
Forcing someone to engage in sexual activity is a big old NOPE. And this goes for you, too. Just as you demand respect from others, you must also show others that same respect. If your SO doesn’t wanna, then you don’t do it. If you don’t wanna, then you don’t do it.
CONSENT CONSENT CONSENT. As much as I would like to think you might hold out on sex until you’re like, I dunno, 25, that just is not reasonable in our current social climate. So, WHEN you start engaging in sexual activity, consent is not just sexy, it is mandatory. Consent is an ongoing, open, and enthusiastic (preferably) verbal agreement between you and the other person. But OMG that sounds so awkward! Nope, it is required. And consent can be withdrawn at any time. Just because you guys went to first base doesn’t mean you’ve agreed to hit a home run, OK?
Lastly, trust someone to talk to. It can be me, your dad, your bff, a teacher, a counselor, or another trusted adult that you know will listen to you if you need help with something. I want you to reach out if you are struggling, if something has happened, if you feel suicidal (because again, let’s face it, suicide is on the rise especially among teens), or if you just need to feel some kinda way without feeling judged for it. And it won’t hurt my feelings if that trusted person is not me, just so long as you talk to someone.
This is my love letter to you before I lose you to hormones. I love you and I always will. Being a teenager really is hard. I may seem old and out of touch and literally like the most uncool parent EVAR, but I do remember how hard it was and I truly empathize with you while you navigate the insane changes that your body, mind, and social life are going through. But ultimately you are so worth every moment of arguing, of tears, of laughter, and awkward interactions, because to see you grow through this time is one of the best journeys of my life, and I get the privilege of being your mom.
Love, Your Mom
A Note for Parents
Parents, if you feel your teen or their friends may be in an abusive situation or have been the victim of sexual violence, or just need a little more information, please reach out to the Crisis Services of North Alabama’s 24-hour HELPline at 256-716-1000 or text at 256-722-8219 nightly from 4:00-11:30pm. A trained crisis counselor is available anytime you need an ear or need to be connected to the domestic violence shelter or forensic nurse examiner or a prevention educator. Here are some more helpful resources:
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
- National Children’s Advocacy Center: 256-533-KIDS (5437)
- Need resources? Dial 211
- NOVA Center for Youth 256-705-6444
You Might Also Like…
- Jeans 4 Justice Spreads Awareness About Sexual Violence
- Talking About Consent with My Son
- How to Talk to Teens About Porn
- More Parenting Teens on RCM
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Adde Waggoner serves as the Sexual Assault Prevention Educator for Crisis Services of North Alabama. She is passionate about transforming how our community thinks about, reacts to, and attempts to prevent interpersonal violence by providing education, outreach, and awareness activities to students, adults, and organizations across the TN Valley. She graduated with honors from Athens State University with a BS of Behavioral Sciences and is currently pursuing an MA of Professional Sociology from UAB. When not practicing her warrior advocate educator skills, Adde enjoys spending time with her family and friends.