Lisa Damour * Ballantine Books * February 9, 2016 * 352 Pages
In Untangled, Lisa Damour discusses seven transition phases that girls experience as they progress from childhood to adulthood. The phases are relatively self-explanatory. They are 1) parting with childhood, 2) joining a new tribe, 3) harnessing emotions, 4) contending with adult authority, 5) planning for the future, 6) entering the romantic world, and 7) caring for herself. These phases aren’t necessarily experienced at specific ages in one specific order, but Damour’s outline of them does offer a general guide for how most girls mature.
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.