Do you have girl teens and preteens in your life?
I have them in my house, in my car, and everywhere I turn… and the drama is making me crazy! Who stole my sweet, calm 10-year-old and turned her into a young woman with shaved legs, a bra, a texting addiction, instantaneous tears, and a sarcastic tongue? Enough already. Can we please go back to our American Girl dolls? Pretty please?
This was an excellent series on Dealing With Girl Drama from http://blogs.lifeway.com/blog/girlsministry/ , written by Jimmie Davis, a veteran of Girl’s Ministry. By the way, many of these principles are just as valid for Women’s Ministry… since we’re all girls in various stages of maturity!
In working with teenage girls for the past 30+ years, I have seen drama that would make you laugh and make you cry. Anyone who works with teenage girls understands how difficult it is to sort out relationship problems and help girls treat one another with respect. I have come to realize that there will always be drama no matter what you do, but the Lord has shown me some ways to help prevent drama before it starts. First of all, I think it is important to determine why girls act the way they do. Identifying the root of the problem is always a good first step. The following areas may contribute to the issue of drama:
Spiritual Immaturity Some girls may never have been spiritually transformed. The sinful nature is in control if they have never accepted Christ into their hearts and surrendered every area of their lives to the Lord. They may be in full rebellion against God and may not even care. On the other hand, they may have already accepted Christ into their lives but are babes in Christ. It is very possible they may have unidentified sin in their lives and have no idea that how they are acting is inappropriate. They need spiritual mentors to guide them in spiritual disciplines and how to live a close relationship with the Lord.
Personality Issues Every girl has a unique personality. God has designed each girl in a unique way, but there are four basic personality types—sanguine, choleric, melancholy, and phlegmatic. It is important to learn that we must respond to others according to their personalities (communicate in their language, not ours), so it is essential to teach teen girls about personality traits. Often girls do not understand their own personality much less the personalities of others. When we understand how God designed our personality, we can learn to balance our personality and therefore become less offensive to others. In learning about personality traits, girls can learn how to respond correctly to other personalities.
Social Status Whether we want to admit it or not, race, culture, and family social status can cause drama and division in girls’ ministry. I have had girls to put their foot up onto a chair to prevent a girl of another social status to sit beside her. It is heartbreaking to see and we need to be about the business of teaching our girls how to love all people. We as humans tend to migrate toward people who are like us. Breaking down these barriers that are sometimes passed down as generational sins is sometimes a difficult task, but it is vitally important in our girls’ ministries to make this an important focus.
Self Esteem Issues Self esteem issues are rampant with women of all ages and begin long before the teenage years, they are at an all-time high during the adolescent years. When a girl suffers from low self-esteem, she may try to make others look bad. She may have anger issues because she feels bad about herself, and this can cause drama. Teaching girls who they are in Christ Jesus is critical. When they have “God esteem” there will be much less drama.
The Suitcase When a child is born, they have a “life suitcase” they carry around with them for the rest of their lives. Parents and other significant adults hopefully pack the things they need for life in their suitcase. Life also contributes to that suitcase with items such as illness, accidents, or even disabilities. Generational sins contribute to the suitcase and are often packed and repacked from parent to child. Abuse, divorce, abandonment, anger, fear, addictions, and trauma are some things that can cause a girl to have relationship problems with others.
It is important to teach girls about their life suitcases. Help them learn to identify what is in the suitcase, how to unpack the unnecessary items and how to repack the things that are essential for living a life that is pleasing to God. It may be necessary to involve parents in this process since often parents are at the root of drama, especially mothers. The girls in your ministry can stop generational sins with God’s help and a godly person who can help walk them through the process.
Physical and Emotional Development During middle school time, the physical and emotional changes that take place in a girl’s life can make a girl act and say things that are completely inappropriate. The hormonal changes may cause her to be more dramatic, emotional, and experience mood swings that cause a mother to wonder, “Who is thing girl and what did she do with my daughter?” I have noticed that drama is at its height in the middle school years and one has to sit down and laugh at some of the “silly” things that girls get bent out of shape about. However, to the girl, her situation is disastrous and is very real and traumatic. As girls grow into their high school years, the drama often changes to more realistic and even deeper issues.
Brain development is another factor that contributes to drama with teenage girls. The prefrontal lobe, or the good sense area of the brain, is not fully developed until the late teens and early twenties. However, the emotional center of the brain is very developed, causing girls to think with emotions and not good sense.
Childish Ways Hopefully, as a girl grows up she will begin to act more like a young adult than a child, but often girls grow up and carry childish ways into their adult life. This will depend on how parents and other significant adults have modeled getting rid of childish ways. I Corinthians 13:11 tells us to get rid of childish ways when we grow up. Childish ways consist of temper tantrums, selfish behavior, crying, pouting, physical aggression, tattle telling, taking your toys and going home, manipulating, and on and on we could go. These childish ways destroy love relationships whether it is a parent/child, husband/wife, friend to friend, small group, girls’ ministry, youth group or church. Teaching this timeless truth to teen girls and helping them learn to replace childish ways with appropriate mature ways can lessen the drama that exists in your girls’ ministry.
Drama Prevention Focusing on all of these areas and mentoring girls through these aspects of their lives can help a girl be less dramatic. To be perfectly honest, God has created women to be emotional beings and there will always be drama to a certain extent, but as girls mature spiritually, physically, and emotionally, they will learn to deal with others in a more godly way. Teach girls the importance of forgiveness, provide avenues for affirming one another, and hold them accountable for their actions.
One last thing, and I apologize if it stings a bit: we as leaders must evaluate ourselves in all of these areas as well. Sometimes, we as leaders contribute to the drama and don’t even realize it.
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