Untangling Myths about Raising Girls
Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls through the Seven Transitions into Adulthood by Lisa Damour
Ballantine Books, February 9, 2016
Though Michael Thompson hailed it as the "girl equivalent of Raising Cain," Lisa Damour's Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions into Adulthood is more than the counterpoint to his seminal work on boys' development. In her book, Damour draws from extensive research, as well as her experience as a professor at Case Western and a psychotherapist at Laurel School's Center for Research on Girls, to frame seven distinct phases in a young girl's life. "Too often," she says, "we make raising a teenage girl sound like a roller-coaster ride: the whole family hops on, white-knuckles their way through and the parents hope that after all the ups and downs their daughter steps off at the end as a healthy, happy adult." Damour upends this "tangled" narrative by showing that there is a pattern to female development, explaining the many predictable ways girls behave as they part with childhood, join new groups, contend with emotions and adult authority, consider the future, enter into romantic relationships and learn to exercise self-care. Damour is wise to add distinct recommendations as to "when to worry," as well, empowering teachers and parents to both understand and support girls at school and at home.