The Truth About Growing Up

The teenage years can be among the most challenging in the human experience. It’s a time of unparalleled physical and emotional growth when new, interesting, and sometimes frightening events happen in quick succession. Peer pressure to experiment with drugs and alcohol, have sex, be popular, figure out what to say and wear and do—the list goes on and on.

Today’s teens may have it harder than ever before. The new documentary “Bully” gives us a glimpse into what typical teens face at school every day—the content is so mature that it garnered an “R” rating, ironically prohibiting many of those who most need to see the movie from viewing it without an adult present.

In a perfect world, teens would consult their parents for advice on navigating the sometimes turbulent process of growing up. But we all know that’s not how it usually plays out. Many teens would rather avoid awkward conversations with their parents or other adults, instead turning to friends who are just as confused about the facts. The consequences of misinformation—such as teen pregnancy, substance abuse problems, or suffering in silence—are too steep.

As an ob-gyn, I remind my young patients that my door is always open if they need help working through difficult times. But, in case they’re not quite ready to have a conversation with me, their parents, or another trusted adult, there are some great online resources available:

  • www.girlsmarts.org: This website is devoted to helping teens work through tough scenarios such as meeting new friends in chat rooms; experimenting with smoking, alcohol, and drugs; and weight issues and eating disorders. Girlsmarts features polls, blog posts written by teens, and video content related to teen issues.
  • www.stopbullying.gov: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently relaunched its anti-bullying website. The resources and information provided encourages teens, parents, schools, and communities to find solutions to prevent and respond to bullying and foster a safe environment for all members of the community.
  • Patient Fact Sheets: ACOG has developed a series of fact sheets for teens on a variety of topics such as body art and piercings, body image, stress and trauma, internet safety, plastic surgery, and pregnancy options. Corresponding fact sheets for parents are also available.

Share these resources with teens you know and see what happens. They just might spark a healthy conversation too important to miss.