By GalTime Teen Parenting Expert, Barbara Greenberg, PhD
How do we teach our teens the virtues of the Yep, it's happened. I'm officially frustrated with the persistent allure of the "bad boy" in our culture. I have seen too much pain as a result of our teen daughters being attracted to "bad boys" and our teen sons feeling that the "bad boys" get the girls. And, yes it is hard to disagree with our sons about this.
I mean for goodness sake I am a grown woman and am still no stranger to these feelings. I'll pass a lean, muscular, and tattooed guy on the street with a devil-may-care look on his face and he is more likely to catch my eye than the well-dressed guy in the suit rushing to work in front of him.
Please don't tell this to my daughter. I think that I finally have her convinced of the virtues of the "nice guy."
We all know that attractiveness is both hard to define and unique. On the other hand, if you get a group of females together it's the bad boys that they'll talk about. And, we don't do our talking in a locker room... we'll do it when we are all together and feel like being entertaining. Now surely, our teens are getting messages from us.
Bad Boy I'm afraid that after all these years we are continuing to push them toward the arrogant, emotionally unavailable, swaggering, uber-masculine type of guys. And, we are doing this unconsciously because it is so ingrained in our culture to find what is elusive attractive.
In an effort to re-educate our teen daughters about what they should look for in a male and our teen sons about what is attractive in a boy -- here is what I suggest.
I'd love your thoughts and additions to this list. You may end up calling me a nerd, but I'll tell you nerdy boys have lots to offer. Just go to your high school reunion and see who has fared well in life. Was it the boy who cut class to smoke cigarettes or the boy who came to class and was all things nerd? You'll find out at that next lively high school reunion.
So, here goes. This is what has staying power throughout life in terms of attractiveness:
1. A sense of humor. A little levity at just the right moment is fun, good for your health, and reduces your stress level. It also reduces tension that inevitably arises in the course of everyday life and all relationships.
2. Being nice to you and others. A boy who only allows you to see his good qualities is most likely to turn out to be a problem. The phrase "he's so nice deep down' has always made me cringe. Why, does it have to be so deep down I'd like to know? Maybe it only exists in your eyes because you, like many other girls and women before you, are like the role of the "fixer" and the "caretaker." I say leave that to a good and solid therapist.
3. Intelligence. The most successful people in life have enough intelligence to handle a variety of situations smoothly. I'm not referring to those with the highest grades, but instead to those with a mix of emotional and other sorts of intelligence.
4. Someone who is interested in what you have to say AND shows it. Discussions center around you, him, and others... not simply around his current mood. This is no small thing. Girls -- someday you will be grateful that you chose a partner who asks about your day and actually sticks around long enough to hear the answer. And, boys if you are a good listener this will pay off for you in the long run. I PROMISE.
5. Attractive is someone who makes you feel good when you are in his presence. His energy brings out the best in you. You feel lighter, upbeat, and excited, as opposed to nervous, deflated, and moody.
I don't think that we are going to change attitudes in a day or even a year. I do believe, however, that it is time to begin the process.
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