Thus far in this series we’ve addressed the child’s side of growing up. They get to be who they are as adults perceive, judge, and render feedback in the form of guidance, instruction, and even demands.
Then puberty arrives. Kids, with their own lived-with sense of self-worth in mind, turn to peers for the new measures of their importance in a strangely new environment of slightly more experienced peers. Self-interest shifts. How worthy are they of peer approval? How can they win and keep it? Will their self-image and sense of self-worth stand them in good stead. Only time will tell, and some will turn to self-destructive behavior.
Success and failure revolves around this paradox. The more teens want to be liked by their peers, the less they will be respected. The more they are respected, the more likely they will be liked. Tougher for girls, easier for boys.
Self-appraisal occurs constantly. Girls want primarily to be liked in order to confirm their importance, and so their personal morale constantly spins in turmoil. Boys want to compete, and they make it a constant battle to stay near the top of their own kind of turmoil
Boys do not respect girls that cheaply and easily part with sex. Boys most admire a girl for protecting her greatest asset against infringement, aka the ultimate virtue. Who boys admire as virtuous, they respect. Thus, virtuous girls who seek to remain so are first to be respected and consequently liked. Girls that provide sex may be respected but only by those unaware.
Girls do not respect boys who lack the respect of other boys. Consequently, boys who are different than other boys are unliked by both girls and boys. Unless such boys are admired for something, such as a unique technical specialty or knowledge; in which case they are respected but just not a member of any but their own unique groupings.
If to be liked is a teen’s prime motivator, it’s a strong signal that their upbringing was achieved in a home and school environment where respect played too little a part or was effectively absent. Or perhaps they did not earn respect by trying too hard to be liked.
When parents and teachers respect kids as person, boy or girl, and whatever roles they fill, then kids like themselves, which discourages them from seeking to be liked by their peers, which encourages them to focus on earning respect, which improves their chances of being liked by peers.
Self-perceived failures in being both liked and respected lead to self-destructive behaviors, which suggests that failing to be liked enough to meet a child’s expectations determines whether they are vulnerable to fall over the edge into self-destructive behavior.
Kids dislike themselves when girls conclude they are not liked and boys when not respected, both to their own expectations. Girls not liked often seek martyrdom in eating disorders. Boys not respected often seek martyrdom through violence.
That’s not the end of it. Tomorrow, the subject is self-likeability, which is the ultimate result of all that’s presented in this series.