Beginning with the runaway success of Mary Pipher’s Reviving Orphelia more than two decades ago, the subject of the distinctive societal pressures on teenage girls and the mixed messages they receive has attracted increasing attention. In May of this year, a large new study found that more than a third of teenage girls have been or are depressed before the age of 17. What is it about this stage of life that still leaves so many girls feeling confused and misunderstood while their parents look on in anxious frustration? By now a long succession of books have made their presence felt by seeming to offer new perspectives on the issue and fresh answers to how best to help girls navigate the tumultuous terrain of adolescence.
One of the most recent titles to attract widespread attention—and bestseller status—is Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls through the Seven Transitions into Adulthood by psychologist and New York Times columnist Lisa Damour. In the following interview, Damour gives us a glimpse at the map she’s developed for both therapists and parents trying to help teenage girls make their way through the treacherous, often bewildering landscape of adolescence in today’s world.
RH: Having written a book about teenage girls, what’s it like to have one at home?
Damour: I’ve been a practicing clinical psychologist for more than 20 years, and I started doing research on kids and…