If the teen years are a difficult passage, Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions Into Adulthood seeks to map the journey, at least as it relates to girls. Lisa Damour divides this "tangle" into seven strands (parting with childhood, harnessing emotions, etc.) and offers wisdom drawn from her research and experience to help parents and, really, anyone who has girls in their care to understand and assist the process. Her advice is clear-headed, to the point and often surprising.
A psychologist and director of Laurel School’s Center for Research on Girls, Damour advises adults to make their limits clear and preferences known, but warns that if a girl responds with eye-rolling derision not to panic. Putting it out there consistently offers a sense of security to girls, who often want more boundaries than their behavior would suggest.
Damour brings a relaxed view to most situations, but tells parents to be careful about trying to regulate the two areas where a girl has control: homework and eating. She encourages girls to find creative ways to deal with the flawed adults in their lives as good practice for adulthood, recalling a student whose rebellion against her incompetent parents involved failing in school. Damour was quick to point out that if they were so awful, a strategy that ensured she'd be living with them indefinitely was not the way to go.
If you've puzzled over young female behavior, Untangled will help decode it. This childless reader couldn't put it down. It's a wise, funny, highly insightful guide to the mysterious minefield of adolescence.