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By Paige Blesdoe, LCSW

Paige Bledsoe, LCSW is the Program Director for Eden of Youth Town, a responsive, Christ-centered treatment program for girls, ages 12-17 set to open in January of 2015.

What do you think of when you hear teenage girl?

I think so many things! Girls are silly, chatty, mean, dramatic, fun, moody, beautiful, special, daddy’s little girl, easily influenced, emotional, self- conscience. They are all these things and so much more. I love working with girls. They keep things interesting to say the least.

When I am approached about Youth Town opening its doors to serve girls in January, 2015, I am often met in one of two ways. The majority of people share how overjoyed they are that Youth Town will begin to provide services to adolescent girls, others look at me and ask me, “Are you ready for girls?” The latter question often makes me laugh out loud. My answer never waivers, YES! I am ready for girls. Yes, I am ready for the “drama” that girls can bring. Yes, I am ready for a range of emotions. Yes, I am ready to connect with them. Yes, I am ready to provide the guidance, treatment, support, safety, and love of Christ that so many girls fighting the battle of Chemical Dependency and other struggles have not yet received in their short life. YES! I am ready!!! I am over the moon!

My passion for working with females began when I started my career serving survivors of sexual trauma. This experience ignited a passion within me that could only come from the Lord. Girls are special! They are not like boys! They are different!

What do we know about girls?

Girls are relational. They are created with a desire to connect to others. It is through this connection with others that girls develop a sense of self-worth, whether that worth be strong, healthy, and positive or whether they view themselves sad, unworthy, unlovable, and even bad. Their relationships to their parents, their peers, others, and God help them develop into the women that they become. Sadly, many girls don’t grow up in Christian homes full of love, support and encouragement, guidance, a listening ear, positive discipline, all of which build healthy self- worth. Many grow up in families that are unsafe physically and emotionally; that unfortunately do not teach them how to cope, problem solve, to find their value in their relationship with our heavenly Father. It is these precious girls that are at risk of chemical dependency, trauma, depression, anxiety, and a wealth of struggles. These are the girls we will serve. These are the girls that we will seek to show God’s love! His healing!

So what do girls need to support healthy development? To build a strong sense of self?

1. To know that she is loved and accepted.

2. To be encouraged! Praised! Tell her how proud you are of her- her good decisions, her accomplishments, how she has faced struggles, and worked hard.

3. Listen to her! It is in her daily conversations that you will truly know her- what she cares about, who she is hanging out with, where she is struggling and needs support and guidance.

4. Limits! Teach her where the limits are; tell her your expectations; give her information. Help her learn to make decisions that are in her best interest and when she struggles provide guidance and love through conversation, not just telling her what to do.

5. Teach her through your example how to treat people, how to be kind, assertive, Godly.

Girls are awesome! Girls are dramatic! Girls are worth the connection!