It’s A Little Scary What’s On The Minds Of Girls Today

Raising Daughters | Girls’ Minds


It’s a little scary what’s on the minds of girls today. As parents, it can feel like we are living worlds away from our daughters and this distance can cause us to worry about how we are going to support them as they grow up. If you could peer into the minds of our girls today, what would you see? We find out some of them in this episode. High school girls on Dr. Tim Jordan’s retreat share the challenges they are facing which cause them the most anxiety and distress. From their relationships with parents to friends, boyfriends, and other responsibilities, these girls show us how it can be tough for them as they navigate the pains of growing up. Hear them out today, so you can support them the way they needed us to.


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It’s a Little Scary What’s On the Minds of Girls Today

Thanks so much for stopping by. I’m glad you dropped by because I’m guessing that a lot of you who have a daughter who is in at least middle school, high school, or beyond, I bet you’ve often asked yourself this question, “I wonder what’s going on in my daughter’s mind. What is she thinking? What is rattling around that brain?” I think any of you who have a daughter have probably experienced this sense that there’s so much going on for them. They’ve got so many things going on in their minds. Girls tend to ruminate. What I’m going to do is give you a glimpse into the world or the mind of a girl.

I have this picture that a high school senior girl drew for me. I’ll try and describe it. This is a picture of a young woman. She looks pretty plain on the bottom half of the screen. Right above her head and for the rest of the screen, all there is are a bunch of words, all strewn together. I can’t even read it. It’s a whole bunch of words. What she was trying to show with her picture was, “My mind has so much stuff going on. It seems like one big blur.”

On a weekend retreat with high school girls that I ran, I had eighteen girls. Most of them were juniors and seniors in high school. For the first time in 33 years of running weekend retreats for teenagers, everybody there was a repeater. There were no new girls, which is unusual. We usually see 1/4 or 1/3 of the girls are new to us, and the other 2/3 are repeaters, but this time, all repeaters. Our staff and I decided, “Let’s do something at the beginning to shake them up and get them out of their comfort zone.”

After we did some introductory games, ran around, got them to leave their world behind, and re-entered camp, we had them sit in front of a big fireplace. We had a big fire going. We turned out all the lights in the room. It was dark other than the light from the campfire. We then blindfolded all of them to get them to go inward. We then asked them to think about what was on their minds the most at this point in their life. What were they most worried about? What were they thinking about the most? What thoughts did they bring to this weekend retreat that was most affecting them?

What I’m going to do is I’m going to let you know what they said out loud. By the way, we told the girls there’ll be no processing. You put it out there, and then spontaneously, the next person would say, “One of the things I’ve been thinking about is.” We wanted to go around the room where they had the safety to know that they were not going to be processed. They can put it out there. They were blindfolded. They don’t even know who’s saying what. They could be honest about what was going on in their heads. I think you’re going to find this educational. I’m going to tell you what the girls said, pretty much the exact quote, and then I’ll make a comment or two about what they shared.

Relationship With Mom

One of the first girls who spoke up said this. “My mom lost her job recently. She’s been crappy. She’s been taking her anger out on me. I hate it.” I find that to be true for girls now, especially when they have parents who are both working, especially if they have a parent who’s a single parent. Their mom is a single parent like this girl’s mom was. Their parents are stressed out because of all kinds of things. Finances, jobs, life, making payments, and money kinds of issues. A lot of times, they bring those feelings home and sometimes they take them out on their kids.

Another girl said, “Whenever I share something important that’s going on for me and the things that have been making me feel sad or hurt, my mom immediately turns it around and she makes it about her.” That’s a real stopper when it comes to if you want your daughters to come to you and share, this is one of the things that’ll keep them from doing that. A lot of parents do that. I’ve had girls, especially with their moms, complain about how their moms make it about them. They’ll say they had a rough time at school, their friends were into some drama, they got excluded from the group that day, and they’re upset by it.

Their mom will then say something like, “You think you’ve got it bad, what about me? I haven’t been having time with my friends. I’m too busy working two jobs.” They then go off on some rant. The girls are sitting there thinking, “This is supposed to be about me and my story. You immediately turned it around and made it about you.” What a lot of girls will do at that point is, “I will no longer share with my mom important things because it hurts too bad for her not to listen to me and not take what I’m saying seriously.”

Another girl said at the retreat, “I sit in the bathroom at school during lunch because I have nobody to sit with.” I’ve heard that so many times. It’s one of the saddest things I hear from girls that they’re sitting by themselves at lunch. I’ve listened to a lot of girls tell me that they’ll go to the office and talk to the office people and that they may go to the bathroom to spend the lunch hour. Some of them will go into a classroom where a teacher will let them sit and eat while they’re grading papers and stuff. The fact that they have nobody that they trust enough and nobody who will include them at their table is a sad thing.

Navigating Romantic Relationships

Another girl during the weekend said, “Every time I see my ex-boyfriend at school, I get a panic attack.” How many times have I heard that from girls? They talk about when they have a breakup, how hard it is to move on, and how hard it is for them to get through the grieving process. It makes it even harder when they’re bumping into that ex at school every day or they’re seeing their ex with his new girlfriend. That makes it hard and it keeps all their feelings going. It keeps them present. They start to move on, they’re trying to process through things, they’re feeling a little bit better, then bam, he’s got a new girlfriend or they’ll hear a rumor about how he has a new girlfriend.

The other thing is, a lot of times when girls lose their boyfriend, they don’t just lose that guy, they also may lose the group because he’s friends with everybody. It’s uncomfortable for her to be in this group when he’s around. Not only might they lose their boyfriend but they may also lose their friend group. That was on that girl’s mind on that weekend.

When girls lose their boyfriends, they don't just lose that guy; they also may lose the group. Click To Tweet

Another girl said, “My supposed best friend started dating my ex less than a week after we broke up. It makes me wonder if he was cheating on me. I would guess he probably was.” “My boyfriend is the only person who listens to me. I don’t know what I’d do without him.” That’s what another girl shared out loud. I worry about girls like that where they have an unhealthy balance in their life. They put all their energy and all their time into their boyfriend. When they break up, they’re left with not much. Other friends get upset with them or get frustrated because they’re not spending time with them. A lot of times, they’ve moved on with their friendships, so now the girl is alone. She hasn’t just lost her boyfriend. She hasn’t got anybody else to hang out with or talk to.

Another girl said, “My ex’s new girlfriend is talking shit about me to everybody and they all believe her, not me.” Girls sometimes not only lose their friend or their boyfriends but they also oftentimes will lose the whole group. Sometimes even an ex will start spreading gossip or rumors about them, then the people at school are talking about them, and then it becomes a whole huge drama.

“My ex-boyfriend broke up with me because I wouldn’t do the sexual things he wanted me to do”. A lot of girls will tell me they feel confused because they like this guy. They don’t want to lose him as a boyfriend, but they also have different values perhaps. They don’t want to give up things physically and sexually yet. They’re caught with, “If I stand true to my principles, I’ll lose him.” That’s a tough place to be for girls. Also, girls will tell me they get tired of being pushed and not being heard and respected by their boyfriends when it comes to sexual things.

Another girl said out loud, “I’m so sick of guys wanting me to send them nudes.” A lot of guys in that situation will persist. They keep asking. They keep sweet talking, “You’re so pretty. I like to see you.” Sometimes the girls get so tired of it that they’ll send something to get the guy off their back, and then it becomes a whole new drama because then a lot of times that picture gets sent on to his friends and other people. All of a sudden, it’s got a whole new life of its own.

Also, girls will say to me that in some ways they like it when guys ask because it means they find them attractive. He thinks I’m pretty. Some girls are vulnerable to wanting that from somebody. If they’re not getting it from their friends and if they’re not getting it from other places. If a guy does it, then sometimes they’re willing to give up more than they should or want to because they’re so vulnerable and needy.

Going To College

Another girl said, “I’m so afraid of going off to college because I don’t know how to make decisions for myself.” I interviewed four high school seniors who were talking about how afraid they were to grow up. Some of it was about not knowing how to make decisions or what if they made the wrong decision. They went on and on. It was an interesting episode.

A lot of girls feel that way. A lot of them are afraid to grow up. A lot of them will say that the reason that they’re in that predicament is because their parents didn’t allow them to do things on their own. Their parents rescued a lot. Their parents fixed things for them a lot. Their parents made decisions for them a lot. They got into the habit of doing that, so now when they’re anticipating going out on their own, they haven’t developed the muscle memory and the confidence that you get from making decisions and making choices. If you make good choices, which you probably do a lot of the time, then you get that sense of, “I made good choices.” If you make a bad one and it was a mistake, you’ll learn from it and hopefully, you won’t repeat that. That’s muscle memory.

Another girl who was a senior in high school said, “All of my friends talk about knowing what college they’re going to go to next year. They already know their major. I feel so behind because I have no idea where I want to go or what I want to study.” I’ve talked to it in some previous episodes about that myth that girls are conditioned to believe, which is that they should have their whole life figured out by the time they’re eighteen. Not just what college, not just what their major is, but their whole career path.

You may think, “That’s not true, I would never say it,” but kids are absorbing that. That’s a lot of pressure and a lot of stress because most kids don’t know and most of you didn’t know either. I know I didn’t. Most adults didn’t have their whole life figured out when they were eighteen. Girls believe that they should. If they don’t have it all figured out, then they feel like they’re behind and they feel the pressure like, “I need to catch up.”

Another girl said, “I’m worried that when I go to college, my high school friends are going to forget me.” That’s one of the uncertainties when you go off to college, especially if you go out of state, out of town, or go someplace new. Your friends are going to forget you and you’re going to lose those friends. There’s some reality to that. I think a lot of people will probably stay connected to a friend or two or someone from high school.

Sometimes if you go out of state someplace and your friends go out of state, then it becomes hard to connect. Even now with all the social media and our phones, it’s still not always easy because you have a whole new life. You’re trying to establish a new life. You’re trying to make new friends. There isn’t much time left for your old friends perhaps. It’s a real fear, it’s a real uncertainty, and it’s something that’s on girls’ minds a lot.

Another girl said out loud, “I’ve never had a boyfriend. I’m worried about going to college with no experience with guys.” When I hear that, I try and normalize their fear. It makes sense why they might be worried about that. However, there’s been some good research that shows that when girls leave high school and they haven’t had a boyfriend and they haven’t had that experience that they end up being healthier.

Let me read this. “Adolescents who were not in romantic relationships during middle and high school had good social skills and low depression. They tend to fare better or at least equal to their peers who have dated. There’s a lot of prior research that shows that teenagers in romantic relationships tend to experience more symptoms of depression. Breakups are one of the leading causes of depression and suicide in girls.” I’m not saying that they shouldn’t have a boyfriend or that they shouldn’t date. For the girls who have not dated, I want them to know it’s okay. It doesn’t mean that they’re going to have a crummy experience. It doesn’t mean anything. It just means they didn’t date somebody.

Another girl said, “I feel so behind my peers because I’ve never had a boyfriend either and I’ve never had sex. I don’t think I want my first experience with sex being with that to be in college. I don’t want my first experience with sexuality being done in college.” It’s interesting. I’ve had some groups who we’ve talked about that, some high school groups. I asked them to close their eyes and raise their hand if they hadn’t had sex before.

What’s interesting is, is that typically 1/2 to 2/3 of the group raises their hand. A lot of times, I’ll have them open their eyes and they’re surprised that so many people haven’t. They assume everybody has because people talk as if they’ve had it. Some people have, and they’re the ones who get a lot of attention. I want them to know it’s okay. I don’t want them to feel pressured to do something they don’t want to because they feel like everybody else is doing it and they are behind.

Coming Out

One girl at that retreat said out loud, “My parents look at me differently and they don’t talk to me ever since I told them that I had a girlfriend.” Since she came out. I think we all know that it takes courage for kids to come out to their parents, especially if they’re in a family where homosexuality is judged. Any of those things that are different are judgment. Girls like girls. They’re not sure if they’re pansexual. That was what’s on this girl’s mind. She did have the courage, she came out, and now her parents were having a hard time with it.

It takes courage for kids to come out to their parents. Click To Tweet

We didn’t process it then because, like I told you at the beginning, this is just to put it out there. I think girls need to know that sometimes it takes their parents a little while to come to terms with it. It wasn’t what their picture was for their daughter, so they needed to change the picture in their mind. That’s not unusual. I think it’s probably a healthy thing.

How They Look

Another girl said that day, “I changed my outfits 3 or 4 times every morning before I go to school.” There’s so much self-consciousness in middle school and high school. That’s not news to you, I’m sure. A lot of times, it’s about how they look. They compare themselves so much. They compare themselves to people online and people on social media. They compare themselves to movie stars and rock stars. Oftentimes, even more so with their peers. They’ll find something where they can look at themselves and say, “I’m not as pretty as. I’m not as in as good a shape. I’m not as curvy as,” whatever it might be.

If they get into the habit of comparing themselves to decide, “Am I okay?” If they’re looking out there to decide, “Am I okay?” I always tell girls they’re screwed because in their mind they’ll always find somebody who is prettier, more athletic, a better student, more popular, and all those things. That’s a big thing that’s on the minds of a lot of girls is how they look.

Another girl said, “I hate that I dress to please my friends instead of dressing like I want.” A lot of times, girls know that. They know that they should dress for themselves. They know that they shouldn’t do things to fit in. Yet the pressure is so strong, the pressure to have friends, to have a sense of belonging, to want to be like people in a sense of, “It’s not like I want to be like them as much as I want to be in the group. I want to have friends. I want to have connections. I want to be close to people.” There’s an internal struggle. “I don’t want to give up me to be in the group, and yet sometimes I feel like I need to in order to fit in.” That was on that girl’s mind.

Embracing Emotions

Another girl said, “All of my friends are judging me because I’m not over the deaths of our two friends who died in a car crash about a year ago.” I did an episode recently. I read a book called Night Vision and I interviewed the author. She talked about all the emotions that we have and how we’re not doing a good job in our culture of allowing kids to feel their emotions. As soon as a girl is sad or anxious, they get labeled, they get diagnosed, they get medicated. We try and talk them out of it. We try and make them happy. We don’t let kids have their feelings.

It’s normal for them to have lots of emotions in their adolescent years and to not have it all together because your prefrontal cortex hasn’t fully developed and their emotional centers are much more developed, so the emotions tend to rule. I want them to have healthy outlets obviously, but I also want them to know it’s okay to have those emotions. It’s okay to feel whatever they’re feeling. Especially that girl who was grieving. They feel like there’s this time limit like, “It’s been 2 months or it’s been 6 months or it’s been 1 year, so I should be over it.” I think they get messages from their parents and their culture that they should be over it when in reality, we all have our own timelines. That’s why that was on that girl’s mind. She was struggling with that.

It's okay to have those emotions. It's okay to feel whatever they're feeling. Click To Tweet

Another girl said, “I’m tired of having to be so mature all the time.” I did an episode several years ago about why old souls oftentimes are lonely, talking about girls who are mature, who are with it, who think more deeply, and who know things at a much higher age than their chronological age. They thus have a hard time sometimes connecting with kids their own age or with their peers because they’re so deep and so mature. They get validation a lot of time for being so mature while their friends call them mom, they become their friend’s therapist. They feel valuable because they can help their friends out because of their intuition and their knowledge and they’re being kind and helpful people.

On the other hand, sometimes they want to be like everybody else and not care so much and to be comfortable having those superficial conversations. Sometimes they put a lot of pressure on themselves to maintain that high expectation of always having it together. I think that’s what that girl was saying was, “Sometimes I wish I could not be so mature all the time.”

New Family Dynamics

Girls often also will share things about their parents. One girl said, “I hate my mom’s new boyfriend.” That’s all she said. I think it’s interesting because when parents are divorced and they start dating someone when they bring someone else into their life, they want their kids to immediately connect with that person. They want everybody to have this sense of this big happy family. “I’ve moved on. I want everybody to be happy.” A lot of times, their timeline is not their kids’ timeline.

Another girl said, “My dad’s girlfriend moved in with us last month and he keeps pushing me to spend more time with her. I’m just not ready for it.” Again, his timeline, not hers. You need to be patient if you’re bringing someone new into your life, a new boyfriend or a new girlfriend, and allow your kids to get to know them at their pace. I think it’s smart in a sense too for the kids because I’ve had so many girls tell me that their parents were dating somebody, started living with this person, and then a year later, they broke up and they never had contact with that person again for most of the girls. That’s hard. It’s another loss for them.

Another girl said, “It pisses me off that my parents are always telling me I have to be more accountable, but then they never apologize when they yell at me or when they’ve been absent from my life.” That’s an important way to show respect to kids. It’s to apologize when we’re wrong. Sometimes parents have a hard time doing that because I should be the parent and they’re the kid. There’s something in there that causes parents to have a hard time apologizing. They’re not modeling for their kids’ accountability.

A really important way to show respect to kids is to apologize when we're wrong. Click To Tweet

Another girl said, “My parents have been fighting for years. Last month, my dad moved into the basement. I’m worried they’re going to get a divorce.” Kids of all ages notice when things don’t feel right with their parents. Even if you’re not fighting, they can sense the distance, the coldness, and the tension. Sometimes there’s lots of fighting and lots of yelling. Like this girl was saying, “My parents now are not sleeping together. They’re sleeping in separate bedrooms. My dad’s down in the basement or sometimes one of the parents moves out.” Even younger kids who don’t have a cognitive understanding of what’s going on feel the feelings that are going on around them, so they’ll sense the emotional part but not have the information of what’s going on. I think that’s something to keep in mind.

“I kind of wish my parents would get divorced because I’m sick and tired of hearing them fight and threaten each other.” That’s a common refrain. I’ve heard a lot of girls say that they’re tired of being tired. They’ll say, “I don’t care anymore because it’s easier to not care than to keep feeling all the feelings I feel when I care. I get excited because they’re doing better, and then I get dropped down again when they’re doing bad again. I feel hurt. I feel scared sometimes because it is pretty intense, the screaming and yelling.” Sometimes girls feel that way. Just move on. Do something. Take some action.

Another girl said, “I miss my older sister since she left for college because she’s the only one at home I feel safe to talk to.” It’s hard sometimes when the older sibling leaves for that reason. Sometimes the older sibling has become a buffer between the parents and the girl. Sometimes the older sibling is the peacemaker. Sometimes the older sibling is somebody who gets more negative attention because she’s in trouble a lot, but it takes the negative attention off of the younger sibling. Sometimes when they have a sibling who goes off to school, that’s a big thing on their minds.

Another girl said in the opposite way, “I’m so stressed out because my brother’s coming home for the holidays. Our house has been so much calmer since he’s not there freaking out and fighting with my parents like he used to.” It’s confusing for girls. They may love their brother at some level and they may miss them at some level, but also sometimes it’s a relief when they’re not there if they’ve been causing lots of problems. I’ve had kids who have older siblings who have had problems with meltdowns. Kids who are on the spectrum and who do not have screaming fits. Kids who have had some alcohol or drug issues that caused bringing drugs into the house. Parents calling the police. All kinds of mischief and drama make it hard for girls to want to have that sibling around again.

Challenges With Friendships

Another girl said, she did it in air quotes even when she was blindfolded, “My best friend calls me late at night whenever she’s stressed out, but then she’s never there for me. I wish our friendship was more reciprocal.” That’s one of the things I hear from those mature old souls I mentioned earlier. They’re there for everybody else, but sometimes either the other friend isn’t there for them or they have a hard time allowing people to be there for them because they want to have that sense of, “I got my act together.” They’re so busy giving to other people, sometimes giving what they want to receive that they have a hard time receiving because they’ve spent so many years being there for other people. Putting other people’s needs before their own. That’s a big one for girls I hear a lot.

This was at one of my weekend retreats recently where I had the girls the first night who had all opened up my camp before all repeaters. We had them sitting in front of a fireplace with the lights out. It was totally dark in the room other than the campfire. They were blindfolded and they were sharing out loud spontaneously things that they brought to the weekend, things that had been on their minds.

Another girl said, “My two best friends have been fighting for the past month. They’re always trying to pull me into the middle of it. I swear they act like third graders sometimes.” That’s one of those mature kids who’s like, “I need to start setting some boundaries with my friends. I’m tired of them pulling me into their crap and drama.” It’s hard to do because they’re so afraid they might lose their friends and it’s draining. I’ve had a lot of kids tell me how draining it is to always be in the middle of their friend stuff, especially when their friends aren’t committed to making it different and don’t have the skills to do it differently.

Another girl who was sitting there that night said, “Sometimes I feel like I’m so much more mature than my friends, and makes it hard to connect with some of the stuff they’re into.” It’s hard for girls sometimes in middle school and high school to find their tribe. Find people who match their level of maturity, who have the depth, and who want to have them more deeper conversations. Sometimes they don’t find those people until they go off to college or as they become older.

There are other people like them at school, but they’re not as noticeable. I tell them to look around for those kinds of people. The people who seem to have a level of kindness, a level of maturity, and then try and spend some time with them. It’s hard to feel lonely because you don’t connect with the drama and the middle school and high school stuff that’s going on around you.

Another girl right up to that girl shared and said, “That’s the same with me. It makes me feel like I’m a third wheel when they go off about some gossip or some rumor. I’m sitting there at lunch thinking I hate it when they do that because I don’t know what they’re talking about. What the girls will say is, ‘I don’t want to talk about it. I don’t want to be talking about rumors and gossip and this low-level superficial junk. I hate it.’ On the other hand, I want to have a sense of belonging, so that’s the push-pull. I want friends and I want to have a sense of belonging, but I don’t want to belong when it’s about drama and talking about people behind their backs.”

“My friends treat me like crap, but I’m so afraid to say something because they might completely exclude me. I don’t want to be alone again like I was in seventh grade.” This was a high school senior who said this. I also did a show about why it’s hard for girls to let go of toxic friends. I think it is hard for girls to move on. There’s that feeling of tending to be friends that girls come up with when they’re distressed with their relationships. They don’t want to cut them out. They don’t want to lose people. They want to try and fix the relationships. They want to try and tend to those relationships and be friends with them. They also know that “If I cut this person off, I might be alone. I might not only lose them, I might lose the whole group.” Nobody wants to be alone.

The Value Of Retreat

Finally, one last thing that was shared that night was, “It’s good to know I’m not the only one who struggles with this stuff.” That’s the value of retreats for girls. That’s the value of sitting in a circle and putting things out there, sharing from your heart, and being vulnerable because they can connect with their stories. At our retreats and camps, girls connect with fun too. We get silly. We take hikes. We’re out in nature. We do all kinds of stuff to connect.

That piece about being vulnerable and sharing from your heart, sharing tears sometimes, sharing some emotions, that’s an incredibly powerful way for them to connect. Not only do they feel connected, but they don’t feel so crazy. Girls will tell me all the time, “I thought I was crazy for feeling these things or for worrying about this.” They’re not. They’re not the only one and they’re not alone. It’s one thing to tell a girl that. It’s another thing for them to experience it in a circle of their peers.


Raising Daughters | Girls’ Minds


I hope this helps you to get a sense of what might be on your daughters’ minds. Your daughter is not the same as the eighteen girls at my retreat. What I tell parents is that the girls who come to my retreats and camps are just girls. They’re not troubled girls. They’re not straight-A student girls. They’re not wealthy girls. They’re not poor girls. They’re just girls, a whole diverse group of kids. I tell them that no matter what school I walk into, if I walked into any school tomorrow, any middle school or high school, and grab twenty random girls and get them on a retreat, sat them in a circle that all of them have things to share by the time they are in sixth grade, eighth grade, or twelfth grade.

Good for you to take this information. It might stimulate some questions you may have for your daughter. Be a good listener. Learn how to mirror and paraphrase what you hear her say back to her so she knows you’re interested in getting in her shoes and seeing things from her point of view. That will cause her to feel more safe and trusting. Hopefully, it’ll cause her to be more open and more vulnerable and to share deeply with you.

I want that for each and every one of you. I want you to be an influence in your daughter’s life now and/or forever. The listening piece is important. You’re listening without judging, without advising, without interrupting, and without making it about you like the two girls described. You just learn to be a safe, warm, and nurturing listener.

Go to my website at As always, I’ll be back here in a week with another topic. I’ve got a lot of interviews coming up with some authors. Also, a couple of interviews coming up in the next few months interviewing girls. They’re going to talk about the dating relationship in high school these days. Another one talking about their views on social media. Teenager’s views on social media. I think you’ll be interested. Keep checking these out every week on Raising Daughters. I’m glad you came by. I’m glad you always come by. I’m glad you shared these. I’ll be back with another episode. Thanks for stopping by.


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