In a previous post, I recommended 5 books for parents and guardians to read over the summer. For the next 5 weeks, I’ll be highlighting a takeaway from each one of those five books. First up is Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls through the Seven Transitions into Adulthood by Dr. Lisa Damour. As a past educator at an all-girls school, I used this book a lot when working with parents and found the organization of chapters related to developmental tasks particularly helpful. For example, the second chapter titled “Joining a New Tribe” looks at the changing friendships that occur. As I say this how many of you are thinking of seventh grade?
Today I want to highlight Chapter 3: Harnessing Emotions because here Dr. Damour describes one of my favorite metaphors: the emotional hot potato. Think of a really bad day that your daughter had recently. Something didn’t go her way- it could’ve been at sports practice, in school, with a friend, etc. Whatever it may be, she described the event to you in painstaking detail and what was your reaction? Did you take the emotional hot potato from her and say, “I’ll talk with your coach” or “Let me email your teacher?” Or did you say, “Wow that sounds _____________ (insert reflective feeling here- frustrating/embarrassing, et.), how do you want to solve it? What’s your next step?"
The developmental task here is for students to build their own toolbox of coping strategies. The parent/guardian role moves away from problem solver and moves towards coach. Understanding that you have more life experience and can offer up different solutions is key and yet the work to be done is your child’s, not yours. Questions such as “What have you tried?” or “What’s your first step towards solving the problem with friend/teacher/coach?” empowers your child.
To read more of Dr. Lisa Damour’s resources from Untangled go to: https://www.drlisadamour.com/untangled/
Interested in hosting a book discussion at your child's school or community group? Let me know! I've facilitated parent workshops around this book and countless others!