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Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions into Adulthood Hardcover – February 9, 2016
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“Finally, there’s some good news for puzzled parents of adolescent girls, and psychologist Lisa Damour is the bearer of that happy news. [Untangled] is the most down-to-earth, readable parenting book I’ve come across in a long time.”—The Washington Post
“Anna Freud wrote in 1958, ‘There are few situations in life which are more difficult to cope with than an adolescent son or daughter during the attempt to liberate themselves.’ In the intervening decades, the transition doesn’t appear to have gotten any easier which makes Untangled such a welcome new resource.”—The Boston Globe
“Damour offers a hopeful, helpful new way for parents to talk about—and with—teenage girls. . . . Parents will want this book on their shelves, next to established classics of the genre.”—Publishers Weekly
“For years people have been asking me for the ‘girl equivalent of Raising Cain,’ and I haven't known exactly what to recommend. Now I do.”—Michael Thompson, Ph.D., co-author of Raising Cain
“An essential guide to understanding and supporting girls throughout their development. It’s obvious that Dr. Damour ‘gets’ girls and is one of the few experts in the field who works with them day in and day out. She clearly understands the best way for any adult to help them navigate the common yet difficult challenges so many girls face.”—Rosalind Wiseman, author of Queen Bees & Wannabes
“Untangled is a gem. Lisa Damour deftly blends insights from her clinical experience working with girls, time-honored wisdom on adolescence, the latest social science and neuroscience research, and frank descriptions of cultural trends and media messages. From the moment I read the last page I’ve been recommending it to my clients (including those with sons!) and colleagues, and using it as a refreshing guide in my own work with teenagers and their parents.”—Wendy Mogel, Ph.D., author of The Blessing of a Skinned Knee
“An arsenal of strategies to respond to your daughter’s ever-changing brain, feelings, and choices, Untangled will become your dog-eared travel guide to the mysterious world of teenage girls.”—Rachel Simmons, author of Odd Girl Out
“So chock-full of practical wisdom that I read it straight through twice, then recommended it to every person I know who has a daughter. This book will, no question, make you a better—and a saner—parent of your adolescent girl.”—Peggy Orenstein, author of Girls and Sex
“There are books about teenagers that are smart. And there are books about teenagers that are practical. Lisa Damour, thankfully, provides us with one that is both. With palpable empathy and understanding for adolescent girls and their families, Damour equips parents with a flexible blueprint for anticipating challenges and encouraging growth in their daughters. If you have a daughter (or were a daughter!), Untangled is mandatory reading.”—Madeline Levine, Ph.D., author of The Price of Privilege
“This is the book parents have been waiting, hoping, and praying for, because it’s far more than a book. It’s a map, flashlight, and GPS device for navigating the landscape of adolescent girlhood. Dr. Lisa Damour proves to be the perfect guide and companion: wise, whip-smart, and relentlessly practical on every page. As the father of three teenage girls, I wish I’d had this book years ago—and I hope that it is read by every parent, teacher, coach, administrator, and human being who wants to help girls grow and thrive in today’s world.”—Daniel Coyle, author of The Talent Code
“In exceptionally clear prose, Lisa Damour—a clinical psychologist—skillfully blends research analysis, psychological insight, and stories of girls and their families into a compelling narrative about what’s right about our daughters. She illuminates the seven transitions that girls must untangle to become fully themselves, with each offering a corresponding opportunity for parents to stretch and transform themselves. Throughout, Damour offers unstintingly practical advice to parents about how to talk with their daughters about what matters most and in ways that they are likely to be heard.”—Kimberlyn Leary, Ph.D., associate professor, Harvard Medical School
About the Author
Lisa Damour, Ph.D., graduated with honors from Yale University, worked for the Yale Child Study Center, then received her doctorate in clinical psychology at the University of Michigan. She is the author of numerous academic papers and chapters related to education and child development. Dr. Damour directs Laurel School’s Center for Research on Girls, maintains a private psychotherapy practice, consults and speaks internationally, and is a faculty associate of the Schubert Center for Child Studies and a clinical instructor at Case Western Reserve University. She and her husband have two daughters and live in Shaker Heights, Ohio.
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Damour helpfully illustrates and clarifies her points with engaging and realistic anecdotes, many taken from her years of experience working as a psychiatrist and director at Laurel School's Center for Research on Girls. The stories are interesting and easy to relate to, which I appreciated.
I think the most powerful aspect of Untangled, though, is Damour's ability to talk about this potentially tense subject in a straightforward and honest way while also remaining patient with and kind to both young girls AND their parents. She's fair. And forgiving. She doesn't take sides, and her attitude stays flexible. "When it comes to parenting," she says, "there are many, many ways to get it right." Even when she is encouraging parents to have, discuss, and enforce boundaries with their daughters, she also asks them to be understanding and open. In other words, her approach is collaborative--and it made sense to me.
Ultimately, Untangled ended up being an informative read. I learned a lot--and I calmed down a lot, too, honestly. Damour is so very soothing and so completely confident that we are all capable of figuring out this madness and working through it. I couldn't help but feel consoled, uplifted, and strengthened by the book's message.
As tweens becomes teenagers, it's very important to keep the lines of communication open, and be their friend, yet be able to exert parental authority when needed. This is a difficult balance to maintain and as parents we have our up and down days. As a single mom, with a precocious daughter who was always ahead of the curve, whether it was academics or getting into trouble, I have probably dealt with every single issue that this book brings up. It has several helpful strategies, and ways of communicating that can help you from relapsing into anger and a "because I said so" conversation, that does not fly with teens.
This book deals with most issues for 12-16 year olds, but doesn't really address some issues that start coming to the forefront with driving age and the ability to work part time jobs. Rash driving, drinking, drugs, unsafe sex, learning to use their money wisely, and finding one's own identity as they approach adulthood, are bigger issues after 16, and this book clubs them into one chapter. It would perhaps take a different book to discuss some of these issues, and different strategies, as the same ones that you can use when they're 14 don't work at 16 or 17 when they are becoming more independent, almost adults, and can drive themselves.
I also believe that social media has really changed how teenagers interact, and though this book covers the impact and gives some helpful strategies, teenagers are always a step ahead of their parents. It suggests not allowing social media accounts till much later. This is really difficult in practice, as that is their primary way of engaging with each other and some new strategies are needed. The author delves into social anxiety but does not provide in-depth discussions on topics like severe anxiety, anorexia, cutting, and other issues that affect a vast number of teenage girls, but those are tough topics and each of them requires a book on its own.
Overall, I think the book takes the right approach and suggests the right strategy of asking questions rather than passing judgement. This strategy really helps with conversation and helps their transition into adulthood. I definitely recommend reading this book, and then researching and reading more for the specific issues your child may face.