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The Pressure We Put On Our Daughters

Pressures faced by teenage girls look different from pressures faced by teenage boys, despite some obvious similarities. Where teenage boys feel pressure to excel, teenage girls often feel pressure to be perfect.

Boys, for example, can get away with a rough-and-tumble attitude about appearances. Girls, on the other hand, often feel like they need to have every hair in place.

These points are reflected in a startling statistic. Males in every age group abuse prescription medicine at higher rates than females, except in one age category, the youngest grouping for which records are kept, which is from ages 12 through 17, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

In addition, while suicide rates correlate to rates of depression, females contemplate suicide more often than males do, the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control says. This is often overlooked, because males are more often successful at suicide than females.

What signs do you have that your teenage daughters are at risk of acting out through drug use or through suicide? Here is a quick list of behaviors to look for:



Between 6 percent and 9 percent of adults in the United States suffer from either temporary or long-term depression, which is often called chronic or major depression. However, don’t only look for depression as long-term sadness. Look also for the absence of joy, people who are depressed often do not allow themselves to feel extreme feelings on both ends of the spectrum. Their moods can be tightly controlled, allowing for neither appropriate sadness or moments of joy.

Pressure to be perfect

Parents are often fooled by teenagers who try to be perfect simply because they like to believe they are raising a perfect child. This means some teenagers who look good at everything they do might be putting too much pressure on themselves.

Teenagers have to be teenagers once in a while. A teenager who never relaxes can be over-doing it. One danger sign is constantly comparing themselves to others and not enjoying their success. A teenage girl who does a great job in a school play, then says, “Well, it’s not as good as Jennifer Lawrence,” isn’t allowing themselves to enjoy their success.


Teenagers, girls and boys alike, feel the need to be accepted by their peers. They feel the need to be popular.

This is the reason why a teenager who is bullied can simply feel they are having a miserable adolescence. It is bad enough for a teenager to be picked on, but there is the inevitable comparison to the more popular students in their class, compounding their misery.


Teenagers feel tremendous pressure to be sexually active. It is taken as a sign of adulthood and superiority. Teenagers often see virginity as a failure to be popular or to be mature.

While there is equal pressure among teenage boys and girls to be sexual, it almost goes without saying that one of the basic imbalances among many cultures is the negative cast assigned to females who are sexually active.

What to look for

Teenage girls at risk of turning to drugs and alcohol or acting out through self-injury can show many warning signs. Look for abrupt changes in behavior or unstable moods. Eating and sleeping patterns could change abruptly. Significant weight gains or weight loss can show signs a teenage girl is feeling pressured about her body image.

Teenage girls who isolate themselves from healthy groups of people or from events they used to enjoy could be at risk of acting out. Depression or sudden bursts of sadness could be a sign of reduced ability to cope, which may be due to a decision to try drugs or alcohol.

A Final Note

Clinicians note that substance abuse is a disease concerning which treatment options are constantly improving. Furthermore, data concerning substance abuse rehab for young adults shows that addiction problems caught early can be resolved if acted upon aggressively. The subsequent long-term prognosis can be very promising and hopeful. Medication and other treatment options for depression are developing and can lessen the odds of a relapse.

Finally, teenagers should be, well, teenagers. It’s perfectly normal for them to distance themselves from their parents one minute and acting too young for their age the next. The will try your patience, but don’t be fooled. They still need their parents. Even when they send signals that they don’t, your job is to be there for them.


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