Photo: Courtesy of Elizabeth Berkley
A big fear girls have talked about that prevents them from telling their moms the truth is having the information somehow used against them. For instance, a 15-year-old girl named Rebecca shared that when she told her mom she was thinking about becoming sexually active with her boyfriend, her mom then prevented her from seeing him. After that, Rebecca decided to keep her private thoughts to herself.
What the girls say helps lift the fear and enables them to share things with their mothers is having an understanding in place before things occur. For example, 16-year-old Melinda said she called her mom from a party where she felt she was in a compromised position. Melinda had the security of knowing her mom would support her, because she had made a deal in advance that if she ever needed it, her mom would come pick her up, no questions asked (at least, not right then and there), no lecturing her or making her feel ashamed—or worse, preventing her from going to a party ever again.
Again, the girls are not saying they feel they can just do anything they want without boundaries, and they don't expect their moms not to try to keep them safe—they know that's a mother's job! They just want to come up with a code with their mothers for those moments when they need help the most.
Here's what a few other girls had to say about truth and consequences:
"I feel like I need my mom to show me that it is safe enough to open up to her. For me, even if I reveal something that is punishable, most times understanding and help has been a more effective course of action for me than consequences." — Cynthia, age 16
"One of the biggest issues my mom and I have had is after I tell her something about a friend of mine—especially if it's a friend that was mean to me—she holds a grudge against that friend. Girls have tons of friendship drama, and I feel like if she wants me to ever tell her anything again, she needs to just let that stuff go. It can't be about making me regret my honesty." — Emily, age 14
"I feel comfortable telling my mom things like I tell my friends because she takes off the authority hat once in a while. I knew it wasn't going to make her happy, but I was able to tell my mom when I experimented with alcohol because I knew she wouldn't absolutely explode and punish me until the end of time."
— Alyson, age 16
Next: Show her you're human too