• Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions into Adulthood.

    by Lisa Damour, PhD


    This book is a great overview of what is happening to their teenage daughter in seven steps. It’s clear that teenage girls spend time in all the stages when growing up. This book is written by Lisa Damour, Ph.D. She is the director of Laurel School’s Center for Research on Girls. She peers into the erratic and confusing behavior, and shows the reader that it’s healthy and necessary for development. In each chapter, she gives a clear insight when it is no longer healthy or developmentally appropriate. She breaks the book into the seven stages:

    One: Parting with Childhood

    This decision is both unconscious and conscious. They look up to older teens and want to be like them. They can finally see that they must move away from parental dependency, and move into adult independence. The idea that one must hold their parents at a distance is mostly unconscious, and the teen isn’t sure why they feel this absurdly frustrated with their parent. During this time, one-on-one parent time is easier to navigate, and feels more sophisticated. Damour also suggests that eating dinner with at least one parent more nights a week than not.

    Two: Joining a New Tribe

                When parting with childhood, the teen needs to find somewhere else to associate with. This new association normally takes shape with friends. It’s important for the teenager to understand that quality trumps quantity. Sometimes they will get confused, and lose their good friends for a larger friend group. Damour suggests, letting them learn for themselves sometimes. Teenagers clam up when an adult tries to make every moment into a teachable one.

    Three: Harnessing Emotions

                “Double-check the age of the person whose test you are scoring. If it’s a teenager, but you think it’s a grown-up, you’ll conclude that you have a psychotic adult. But that’s just a normal teenager.” The brain is developing at a very high rate during this time. The erratic emotions that a teenager is experiencing has much to do with her brain development.

    Four: Contending with Adult Authority

                I love the way Damour describes this part of a teenager. “You know the scene in The Wizard of Oz when Toto pulls back the curtain and reveals that the great and powerful Oz is just a guy frantically pulling leavers behind a curtain? If we put your daughter in the role of Dorothy and you, my friend, in the place of the Wizard, the scene perfectly explains why girls start to challenge adults, break rules, and engage in other forms of rebellion once they become teenagers”

    Five: Planning for the Future

                Young teenagers don’t have the capacity to plan like adults wish they could. Their brain development doesn’t allow for this. Explained well by the internet, and why sometimes teenagers make bad choices. There’s a cute boy asking for an inappropriate picture, they have the camera, and the capacity to send the photo moments after being asked. There’s no time for the logical part of the brain to say it’s a bad idea. Once teenager’s brains start to develop they being to have future interests and can see the future.

    Six: Entering the Romantic World

                Girls need to start to understand what they want. The ways girls experience this is different. There are some girls who like to think about romantic and sexual behaviors, but don’t like to do them, while some like to experiment first then ask whether they liked it after. The important factor is that they understand what they like and what they want during this process.

    Seven: Caring for Herself

                The final step out of the teenage years. This is a slow gradual process, and by the time they are graduating from high school it should be clear that they can mostly take care of themselves. Things like, eating healthy, healthy relationships with people, healthy relationships with sex, and healthy relationships with substances are great indicators of his.

    This review is courtesy of Lisa Dulberg, Sonoma State University, Graduate School of Counseling, Spring 2017
    Posted 03/22/2017.