About the Author
Arden Greenspan-Goldberg, M.S.W., L.C.S.W., B.C.D., is a nationally known family and marriage psychotherapist who has specialized in teen issues for more than 30 years. She currently practices in New City, New York, and New York City. Visit askarden.com
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Introduction to Aerial Parenting
Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
You thought your husband or partner could push your buttons, but that was before you had her. Daughters, particularly teenage daughters, are gifted in the art of the comeback, the shoulder shrug, the eye roll. And what's really amazing is the way it affects you. Think about how your face gets so hot after your daughter says "You ruin everything!" or "You don't know what you're talking about!" More than 30 percent of girls-that's nearly one in three-becomes pregnant at least once before the age of twenty. In the United States, one in every ten births involves a teen mother. Seventy percent of teen girls who are sexually active say they wish they had waited. Nearly 63 percent of teens try alcohol before their eighteenth birthdays; 41 percent before they even reach the eighth grade (that's just thirteen years old). Sixty-two percent of U.S. high school students attend a school where drugs are used, kept, or sold. Eighty percent of fifteen- to seventeen-year-olds have been exposed to hardcore porn on the Internet multiple times; in fact, the average age a child is first exposed to Internet pornography is just eleven years old.
Perhaps your daughter reminds you of yourself when you were her age and all the growing pains you experienced. Maybe you see yourself in her, your good points as well as your not-so-good ones. Or maybe you feel you don't have anything in common with your daughter and can't relate to her. No wonder the relationships between mothers and daughters can be so emotionally charged. Being the mother of a teenage daughter can be downright alarming. Consider these bald facts:
It's a minefield out there, and if you're a mother of a tween or teen daughter, it's enough to make you want to scream and hide. Well, screaming might help to release some of the tension, but you can't really hide. Wherever you go, whatever you do, you're still a mom, and a mom to a daughter between the ages of eleven and nineteen at that. Much of the time it's all we can do to simply react to what's going on and try to keep up with everything that's happening around us. So what's a stressed-out, overworked, underappreciated, woefully-unprepared-for-all-this mom supposed to do?
As a nationally known family and marriage psychotherapist specializing in teen and young adult issues, I have helped countless moms step back from the chaos, manage their worries, and cultivate more open and less volatile relationships with their daughters. This book is that help wrapped into a portable package just for you.
HOW THIS BOOK CAN HELP
This book is the ultimate preparation manual and survival guide for mothers with tween or teen girls ages eleven to nineteen. It's a tool of prevention. We'll discuss all manner of scenarios on the most hot-button topics, from bullying to sex to drugs to eating disorders to stress and depression. We'll also cover everyday confrontations, from her wanting to get piercings where the sun doesn't shine, to her posting racy pictures online, to you trying to get her to talk to you about what's going on in her life and listen to what you have to say in return.
You'll read through real questions that moms typically wonder about, followed by ideas on how to handle the situation calmly and effectively, as well as the relevant info moms need to make good parenting decisions. The questions are based on dilemmas I've encountered as a therapist in my practice, and from questions and emails I get through my website, www.askarden.com. In addition, you'll read some exclusive interviews I've conducted especially for this book with noted experts in their respective fields. These incredible women, many of them mothers themselves, all offer their expertise and insights to Mom to further her understanding and strengthen her connection to her daughter. I also share memories and lessons learned from parenting and guiding my own daughter, Samara, although there were definitely days when it seemed
Samara was teaching me how to be a better parent. I share the collective wisdom of all of these experiences, thorns and all.
Why are we covering so many situations? The idea is that the more scenarios you've thought through, the better able you'll be to handle things as they arise.
Because we obviously can't anticipate everything that might happen in your daughter's life, the book will also include general strategies for being a responsive parent, which can help moms with things like how to keep from taking your daughter's outbursts too personally, how to talk to her without escalating the argument, how to stay focused on what's important, and how to be a positive and effective influence on her life. The book includes lots of clearly marked boxes and sections highlighting important facts and advice to make it easy for moms to navigate. That means you can dip into this book wherever and whenever you want to in order to find help dealing with the issue of the moment. But I also hope that you will read this book as a guidebook, a manual for surviving and thriving during the oft-dreaded teenage years, before you end up facing their fears and frustrations in real life.
The book is divided into fifteen chapters. This chapter will introduce you to the parenting philosophy that I call "aerial parenting" and give you some guidelines for your overall relationship with your daughter. Chapter 2 explores the main issue, which is that tween and teen girls tend to be volatile creatures in their own right. On top of that, the mother-daughter relationship can be full of change and emotion. But a volatile parent is not a good parent, so how does Mom handle all this and turn turbulent situations into positive outcomes? It's not easy, but this first section will set moms on the right track by arming them with the proper perspective and general parenting strategies. I'll explain where girls are developmentally as they age from tweens to teens, so that moms can have a better idea of what to expect from them. I'll also help moms access their own parenting styles so they can better understand the part they play in creating the dynamic between themselves and their daughters.
The rest of the chapters deal with the most common and feared issues mothers of teen daughters face, from sex and drugs to family fallouts and getting into college. The purpose of my advice is to bring Mom closer to her daughter, to make their relationship more open, more trusting, and even more fun. There will be plenty of sidebars and statistics throughout the chapters to emphasize both the practical and inspirational aspects of this book, along with scripts and conversation starters in case you're not sure what to say. (You'll find conversation starters and scripts bolded throughout.)