I recently came across an article about teens and reading. It suggested that with their newly developed critical thinking skills, teens seek out some of the most shocking topics to read about including teen suicide, pregnancy and drug use. As a parent of a 5th grader, I often question the appropriateness of some of the books I see on the shelves of our local bookstore. It’s hard to judge many of the books when you haven’t read them yourself and frankly don’t have the time to read the Twilight Series. The article went on to say that reading about these topics was actually very helpful because it gives teens a chance to think about how they would react in certain situations.
Similarly in Smart-Girl, topics, scenarios, and discussions are brought up during session for girls role play and anticipate how they might respond to similar situations in real life. They are first taught the skills in a fun, experiential manner and are then given the opportunity to practice them amongst the safety of their peers in the group. So, whether they are feeling pressured to ditch class or experiment with sexual behaviors, Smart-Girl programs equip girls with the decision making skills and language they need to handle these various situations.
In summer camp two weeks ago, I was inspired and amazed as I watched small groups of 7th grade girls perform skits on how they would react to different peer pressure situations. The girls acted out the refusal skills they had recently learned. During the follow up discussion, the girls described real situations where they thought they could apply their new skills such as when asked to cheat on a test or encouraged to bully a peer.
Providing these types of opportunities for our girls, whether in books or in role plays, can encourage them to rehearse their skills so that they are better prepared when real life presents similar circumstances. So, when your child comes back from the library this summer with a questionable looking book, instead of feeling guilty that you don’t have time to read it, ask about the characters and plot. Ask if the hero is a Smart-Girl. Like the fairy tales they used to read and the TV shows they watch now, parents can influence the impression stories make by discussing them. Reading some of the same books as your teens once in a while can also provide an excellent opportunity for safe, open discussions about topics that can otherwise seem scary or uncomfortable. You never know, Twilight might actually provide the basis for a good conversation!
Hope you’ve got a great summer read and a hammock to relax in this weekend,