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Protecting teenagers from themselves

Cheerleaders
CheerleadersGetty Images

Junior high is the toughest age group because peer pressure to fit in overshadows everything else and the people who are in charge are elitist 13 year olds. In their world, attaining social status boils down to being old friends with a group of kids who have a strong presence on campus by playing on sports teams that have a large audience (football) and holding public office (student body president). It's all about putting oneself in center stage wherever there happens to be a large audience.

Getting good grades is not their highest priority and so their parents have a constant uphill battle trying to keep them focused on their studies.

I asked my dad what happens to the most popular girls when they grow up and he said that they become boring housewives. He was right. The most popular girl at my school was Leah, from the 3rd grade all the way to high school graduation. She went to UCLA and majored in psychology. She tried to pursue an acting career in Los Angeles and married a rich guy. For some reason she got divorced within a few years and her acting career never got off the ground. Then she moved to New York City to be a star on Broadway. Luckily she had a college degree and could get a decent job at a large health insurance company in Manhattan which enabled her to stay in the area to pursue acting. Unfortunately, it wasn't meant to be and she wasted 15 years chasing after it. During that period she was in and out of relationships with rich guys on Wall Street who used her and cast her aside. At age 40 she met a rich guy on a dating website who lives in southern California. She almost instantly quit her job in New York City and moved in with him and six months later they got married at City Hall and then she got pregnant. Now she's an unemployed housewife at age 41 waiting for her first baby to be born. Her life turned out exactly the way that my dad said it would, except that it took her 15 years longer to get there because her first marriage failed and then she couldn't find anyone because no one wants to marry a wannabe actress.

It didn't take a drug addiction to ruin her life; she had an insatiable desire to be the Undisputed Queen that started in elementary school and she didn't grow out of it.

As a parent the wisest thing to do is inform one's kids of how silly the whole thing is and that it's a road to nowhere.