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by Karen Zager and Alice Rubenstein
American Psychological Association, 2002
Review by Fred Ashmore on Mar 17th 2004

The Inside Story on Teen Girls

Rubinstein and Zager have created a book that pulls together answers to the Big Questions raised by teen girls and their parents.  And these are not the "How do I get rid of zits?" big questions, but the ones that get to the heart of moving on with life, making the most of it, enjoying it.

I was thrown at first by the double fronted set up!  The book can be read from the front or turned over and read from the back.  One front cover is for parents; the other for teens.  It ‘s weird at first, but  actually very sensible for this book because parents questions are so different from teen questions.   

Teens' questions

Who am I? and why do I feel this way?

What's happening to my body?

Girlfriends and boyfriends - why is it all so complicated?

Guys, love and sex - how do I decide what to do?

School, school, school - why is there always a problem?

How do I find time to do it all?

Are all families this difficult to live with?

Eating disorders, anxiety, depression: how can I tell if I'm really in trouble?

Drugs and alcohol: how can I not be tempted?

What will my future be like?

Why is it so hard to fit in?

My parents don't listen.  How can I talk to them?

Parents' questions

Why is she so difficult to deal with?

Why can't she think for herself?

Will I ever stop worrying about her?

How can I help he feel good about herself?

How will she ever become an independent woman?

Each chapter has a series of more specific questions with answers that explore possible solutions.  They drill down into the subject, and the answers display wisdom, common sense, practical approaches to real problems and a good balance from "This you might sort out in this way or think about in this way," to "If this is what you think is happening, you should get competent help as soon as you can." 

This is definitely a good book.  Time and again I found myself nodding agreement as I read. I speak as the father of two lovely girls, one who had a hellish time as a teenager (generously shared with us)  and the other who is in the middle of what seems to be a pretty good experience (so far, fingers crossed).  The book is full of sound advice and good sense, and I'm glad I read it. 

OK, there were times when I longed for a bit of crunch.  Constant good sense and tolerance can feel boring - but I would recommend this book to any parent of a teen girl. I was reminded of just how full life is likely to be for a teen girl, and how this eats away at the time she needs for relaxation; how puzzling the mood changes are from the inside as well as from the outside.  And I was reminded that Dad matters too, for which thanks to the authors. My wife's response when she saw me reading this was to question the appropriateness!

Recommended reading? For sure if you have a teen girl.  I think it is aimed at parents, mostly, being a bit discursive for many teens (at least my 14 year old daughter gave it short shrift).  It would be useful for any adult who has to deal with teen girls, in fact.  It is not, I think, aimed at the expert professional but would be helpful for teachers, counsellors, youth workers.  A lot of it will feel familiar and even repetitive, but keep mining, there are nuggets there as well.

 

 

© 2004 Fred Ashmore

 

Fred Ashmore is a member of the public with a strong interest in drugs, drink and addiction and how people recover from them. He is active as a meeting host for the SMART Recovery® program, which offers help for people who seek to modify harmful and addictive behavior.




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