Usually when there's a frog and a prince involved, the story is a fairytale - but in this case, the happily-ever-after is less about romance and more about reality and respect.
Author Kaycee Jane will be at the McGill branch of Burnaby Public Library next week, talking to parents and caregivers about helping their teens navigate healthy relationships.
Several years ago, Jane published Frog or Prince: The Smart Girl's Guide to Boyfriends.
It was, she says, prompted by watching her own teen daughter start navigating romantic relationships and not faring as well as Jane would have liked.
"I have a daughter and she was a teenager then, and much to my chagrin, she started becoming involved with someone," recalls Jane. "She got a boyfriend, and we had a rule - no boyfriends. Well, just saying 'no boyfriends,' that didn't work very well."
Jane says her daughter, like many young teens, lacked the necessary communication skills and understanding to know what she wanted or needed and then translate that into a healthy relationship.
"They believe they know love, but there's still a lot to learn," she says.
Jane says the modern teen has all the same troubles that past generations have had - broken hearts, unrequited love, mixed messages and more - but the current generation is looking for love in a culture that has shifting social norms and even different language when talking about relationships.
"When I was young, when most of us (parents) were starting to date, we had a bunch of cultural norms around relationships - you went on dates, and if someone was your 'boyfriend' you knew what that meant - but today there is this 'hooking up' culture, and hooking up can mean anything. It could be kissing to sex, it could be seeing lots of different people."
Jane, who earned her MBA at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby and lives in Vancouver, says that changes the expectation of teens and leaves them at a loss for what to expect and demand for themselves.
"It's a very confusing culture for them - we had that expectation that a boyfriend or girlfriend meant a specific type of relationship, and it was really clear if you broke that agreement.
"Now there's this range, from less serious to more serious, and 'hooking up' means everything in between."
For many girls, that can mean being quiet about what they want, for fear of appearing needy or expecting too much - or simply confusion about how serious the relationship is.
"Girls think they're being too needy if they talk about what they want. But that's not being needy, that's standing up and respecting yourself."
"You have to reset the bar: to have them talk about and look what their standards are and what they want and need. To be insightful."
Being able to help guide teens through these tough years won't just help them in the short term.
Jane says the research on teen relationships is pretty clear: negative relationships early on can lead to negative relationships down the road, as issues of low self-esteem and inability to communicate snowball.
And though the stereotypes often portray teenage boys in a negative light, the truth is that most teens are seeking the same thing.
"Gender differences - in the research we see the only difference between the genders is the myths: that boys are players. Boys have exactly the same feelings and wants and needs and desires as girls."
Those myths, and cultural expectations, can drive the way people act.
"They're really figuring this all out on their own, they're not being taught.
"When I told my daughter 'no boyfriends' I was trying to avoid the negative consequences. But there are positive consequences in healthy relationships - but they don't get to experience the positive consequences if they don't know what makes for a healthy relationship."
Learning that, says Jane, creates a "script of love" that they'll carry through their life into future relationships.
To hear her talk about Frog or Prince, pre-register for the workshop at McGill Library by calling 6042998955 or register online at www.bpl.bc.ca.
The event runs on April 26, from 6: 30 to 8: 30 p.m. McGill Library is at 4595 Albert St.
To read more about Jane's book Frog or Prince, see www.frogorprince.ca.
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