There’s a saying that “you’re only as sick as your secrets.”
Some secrets are fun and are part of a healthy life – like staying quiet about a surprise party or that special gift you bought for a friend. Other secrets are like a virus. They attach to the deepest, most vulnerable parts of who we are, and they eat away at us, bringing nothing but unhappiness.
That dark reality is a struggle many teen girls face every day. Deep beneath the brave, outer face they wear for others to see are the secrets they keep hidden from everyone, sometimes even from those closest to them. No one knows the shame, guilt, and fear they’re living with.
Often, not even their parents.
Author and speaker Jessie Minassian has been working closely with teen girls for years. She’s had the opportunity to be involved in their lives, to get below the surface, and to learn the secret sins girls battle against.
The top five (in no particular order) are:
- Sexual addiction
- Self-harm or cutting
- Substance abuse
- Same-sex relationships
- Eating disorders
Jessie has personal experience with some of these struggles and believes that, at their root, each one is a way for girls to feel in control over their lives, to cope with some deep pain, or is an illegitimate attempt to satisfy what are often God-given desires.
The problem is more pervasive than we may think. Survey results show that 70 percent of high school teens have used alcohol, 35 percent have smoked marijuana, and 5 percent admit to prescription drug abuse.
In the realm of sex, 16 percent of teens have had sexual intercourse by age 15; 33 percent by age 16; 48 percent by age 17; and 71 percent by age 19.
Although data in these areas tend to fluctuate over time, these kinds of numbers should be something to which we parents pay careful attention.
I’ve encountered some who respond with a yawn and a shrug of the shoulders while saying, “Well, it’s the culture we’re living in.”
I just don’t believe that is a healthy perspective to hold – for us or our children. It’s not what God intended, and ignoring the problem won’t protect teen girls from the consequences. Destructive behaviors like these are more likely than not to leave girls wounded and scarred.
Secret sins grow. If they’re not dealt with early on, they’ll intensify as a girl grows older. Ignore them as a young person, and they’ll follow a girl into her teen years. Ignore them as a teenager, and they’ll follow her into adulthood.
Eventually, shame can become a part of a girl’s identity. They internalize the message that, not only have they done something wrong, but they are something wrong. Shame like that is toxic, and it can become increasingly more difficult to break free.
Christian parents, in particular, can easily miss signs that their daughter is succumbing to one or more of these secret sins. Some parents assume severe behaviors like these will never come up because they’ve worked so hard to teach their children right from wrong. But from Jessie’s experience, well over 50 percent of girls raised in the church struggle with at least one of these five secret sins.
Clearly, these struggles are no respecter of families, and we want to provide parents everywhere with practical wisdom they can employ to have meaningful conversations with their girls and to get them help if necessary. To help us with that, Jessie Minassian will be with us on our broadcast over the next couple of days.
If you’re a Christian parent, don’t turn away from this information, assuming your girls could never face such challenges. Even if you don’t have teen girls, I encourage you to tune in. I have two teen boys, and I’m trying to prepare them to be good husbands someday. It’s good for parents of boys to understand what’s going on in a girl’s heart.
These girls need hope, and that comes from an abundance of God’s grace. They need to know that He sees our 1,000th sin exactly the same way that He sees the first one. And if girls learn to repent, to turn to Him, and to allow Him to heal the broken places of their hearts, they can find freedom.
So stick with us. By the end of our discussion, you’ll be better equipped as a parent. Be aware that these programs tackle some pretty sensitive subject matter so, if you’ve got younger children, it’s probably best to have them outside of earshot.