Remember the tween and teen girls in school who hung out with and got along better with guys than girls? They often liked or played sports. Some rode skateboards or BMX bikes. They were tough but pretty -- more girly than tomboys -- had no patience for girl drama, and had no problem belching and cursing with the gnarliest boys. You'd be pretty hard pressed to ever hurt this girl's feelings. We always called these girls "guy's girls."
Well, a new study published in the Journal of Research on Adolescence suggests girls with a higher proportion of early male friendships are more likely to have substance abuse issues. What's this all about? Are girls who relate to boys better really doomed to drug and alcohol abuse?
It'd be pretty easy to point the finger at all those tough girls who could drink boys under the table at high school parties. However, this study shows there's a little more complexity to this finding than that.
There were two common denominators in the girls who sought early relationships with boys -- many of these girls reflected antisocial behavior and early puberty and maturation. This makes a lot of sense, as any grown woman can tell you -- positive friendships between teen girls are nothing if not extremely emotional and based on trust and a certain regard for one another. You can see why a girl leaning toward antisocial behaviors would find more comfort with certain groups of guys, who tend to keep the emotional inside, be more aggressive, and disregard social "rules."
In the cases of early puberty and maturity, this makes sense as well. I remember several girls who hit puberty early -- and they tended to have older boyfriends and participate in behaviors, including sex and drug and alcohol use, years ahead of girls their same age. When a girl hits puberty early, that comes along with factors like not being able to relate to girls or boys your own age, as well as receiving attention from older boys since you are physically and/or emotionally mature for your age. That can be intense and confusing as hell.
So what do these findings mean for parents? The study findings imply that parents may want to more actively monitor your daughters’ friendships, especially with older boys, which is pretty obvious. However, what's really important about studies like this is they show there's more going on with our kids, perhaps, than a singular misguided personal behavior. In other words, your kid isn't necessarily just trying to piss you off. There are quite possibly some really real emotional and biological things going on with her.
As parents, when we can identify a behavior or potential for a behavior like this and see its contributing factors -- and realize they're incredibly real and overpowering to our daughters -- then we can begin to address positive solutions.
Did you or someone you know have early relationships with mostly boys as an adolescent? How did that play out in the teen years?
Image via erin MC hammer/Flickr