The Peer Advocates are a group of high school students who are trained by health educators at Planned Parenthood Los Angeles to serve as resources for sexual and reproductive health information in their schools and communities.
We asked the Peer Advocates about the most common misconceptions of teens and what they would like people to know about them. Here is what they said!
I’ll never punish my daughter for saying no.
The first time it comes out of her mouth, I’ll smile gleefully. As she repeats “No! No! No!” I’ll laugh, overjoyed. At a young age, she’ll have mastered a wonderful skill. A skill I’m still trying to learn. I know I’ll have to teach her that she has to eat her vegetables, and she has to take a nap. But “No” is not wrong. It is not disobedience.
1. She will know her feelings are valid.
2. She will know that when I no longer guide her, she still has a right to refuse.
The first time a boy pulls her hair after she says no, and the teacher tells her “boys will be boys,” we will go to her together, and explain that my daughter’s body is not a public amenity. That boy isn’t teasing her because he likes her, he is harassing her because it is allowed. I will not reinforce that opinion. If my son can understand that “no means no” so can everyone else’s.
3. She owes no one her silence, her time, or her cooperation.
The first time she tells a teacher, “No, that is wrong,” and proceeds to correct his public school, biased rhetoric, I’ll revel in the fact that she knows her history; that she knows our history. The first time she tells me “No” with the purpose and authority that each adult is entitled, I will stop. I will apologize. I will listen.
4. She is entitled to her feelings and her space. I, even as a parent, have no right to violate them.
5. No one has a right to violate them.
The first time my mother questions why I won’t make her kiss my great aunt at Christmas, I’ll explain that her space isn’t mine to control. That she gains nothing but self doubt when she is forced into unwanted affection. I’ll explain that “no” is a complete sentence. When the rest of my family questions why she is not made to wear a dress to our reunion dinner. I will explain that her expression is her own. It provides no growth to force her into unnecessary and unwanted situation.
6. She is entitled to her expression.
When my daughter leaves my home, and learns that the world is not as open, caring, and supportive as her mother, she will be prepared. She will know that she can return if she wishes, that the real world can wait. She will not want to. She will not need to. I will have prepared her, as much as I can, for a world that will try to push her down at every turn.
7. She is her own person. She is complete as she is.
I will never punish my daughter for saying no. I want “No” to be a familiar friend. I never want her to feel that she cannot say it. She will know how to call on “No” whenever it is needed, or wanted.
1. Your skin may never be perfect, and that’s okay.
2. Life is too short not to have the underwear, the coffee, and the haircut you want.
3. Everyone (including your family, your coworkers, and your best friend) will talk about you behind your back, and you’ll talk about them too. It doesn’t mean you don’t love each other.
4. It’s okay to spend money on things that make you happy.
5. Sometimes without fault or reason, relationships deteriorate. It will happen when you’re six, it will happen when you’re sixty. That’s life.
So I came home from school to see my 7 year old sister putting skittles with my antidepressants, I went up to her and asked “Hey what you doing?” She looked at me, smiled and said “Skittles make me happy so I put them with your medicine that makes you happy so you can be extra happy.” That was the cutest thing i’ve ever heard.
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