Worried about how to help your daughter navigate today’s plugged-in, complex, stressful-out world? Well, you can  breathe. Lisa Damour has written the ultimate manual for raising today’s teen girls that will serve as your roadmap. It’s called, Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions Into Adulthood.

9780553393057-1Lisa Damour, Ph.D. divides that journey into seven strands (or normal developmental phases) based on new research that turn girls into grown-ups. Those seven phases include: Parting with Childhood, Joining a New Tribe, Harnessing Emotions, Contending with Adult Authority, Planning for the Future, Entering the Romantic World, and Caring for Herself. She offers sage, clear-headed, practical wisdom drawn from her research and experience to help parents assist each crucial process. We should heed her advice.

Damour is a leading authority on teen girls, and it’s her wealth of experience that gives her that stature. She is a clinical psychologist and maintains a private psychotherapy practice. She’s also a renowned writer and the director of the internationally renowned Laurel School’s Center for Research on Girls. She consults and speaks internationally, is a faculty associate of the Schubert Center for Child Studies and a clinical instructor at Case Western Reserve University. And she’s the mom of two daughters. Damour “gets” girls. 

I got my copy of Untangled this week, and couldn’t put down. I immediately ran for Post-its and starting marking passages-and then read it again. The book is that good, and for a number of reasons. First, it’s a wonderfully insightful-often humorous-guide to the female tween-teen years (and there are too few). Damour demystified that too-often puzzling adolescent period. She also provides practical, reassuring advice that is based on latest science. (The book is filled with current research). And she pulls it all from her decades of counseling girls and speaking to their parents. The result is a guide filled with invaluable recommendations for those perplexing issues that parents ponder most.

Here are just a few issues she addresses:

• My thirteen-year-old rolls her eyes when I try to talk to her, and only does it more when I get angry with her about it. How should I respond?

• Do I tell my teen daughter that I’m checking her phone?

• My daughter suffers from test anxiety. What can I do to help her?

• Where’s the line between healthy eating and having an eating disorder?

• How do I talk to a girl who seems “allergic” to my questions?

• My teenage daughter wants to know why I’m against pot when it is legal in some states. What should I say?

• My daughter is so stressed. I think she’s being bullied. How do I know and how can I help her? And why are girls so mean?

• How do I connect when my daughter gives me the cold shoulder?

• My daughter’s friend is cutting herself. Do I call the girl’s mother to let her know?

• Is there a way to talk about sex to my daughter so she’ll actually listen?

• How do I know what is normal behavior and when I should worry?

Perhaps most important, Untangled  helps moms and dads connect with their daughters. After all, it’s only when parents understand what their daughters are experiencing that they can relax and enjoy raising healthy, happy young women. Right? Well, Damour helps us relax!

But I’m not alone in my praise. Here are just a few stellar reviews of what I consider a “must read”:

Untangled is mandatory reading.” – Madeline Levine, Ph.D., author of The Price of Privilege

“An arsenal of strategies to respond to your daughter’s ever-changing brain, feelings and choices. Untangled will become your dog-eared travel guide to the mysterious world of teenage girls.” Rachel Simmons, author of Odd Girl Out

“Finally, there’s some good news for puzzled parents of adolescent girls, and psychologist Lisa Damour is the bearer of that happy news. Untangled is the most down-to-earth, readable parenting book I’ve come across in a long time.” The Washington Post

“Anna Freud wrote in 1958, ‘There are few situations in life which are more difficult to cope with than an adolescent son or daughter during the attempt to liberate themselves.’ In the intervening decades, the transition doesn’t appear to have gotten any easier which makes “Untangled” such a welcome new resource.” – The Boston Globe

“Damour offers a hopeful, helpful new way for parents to talk about and with teenage girls. . . . Parents will want this book on their shelves, next to established classics of the genre.” – Publishers Weekly

“For years people have been asking me for the girl equivalent of “Raising Cain,” and I haven’t known exactly what to recommend. Now I do.” – Michael Thompson, Ph.D., co-author of Raising Cain.

“An essential guide to understanding and supporting girls throughout their development. It s obvious that Dr. Damour gets girls and understands the best way for any adult to help them navigate the common yet difficult challenges so many girls face.” – Rosalind Wiseman, author of Queen Bees & Wannabes

“A gem. From the moment I read the last page I’ve been recommending it to my clients (including those with sons ) and colleagues, and using it as a refreshing guide in my own work with teenagers and their parents.” – Wendy Mogel, Ph.D., author of The Blessing of a Skinned Knee

“So chock-full of practical wisdom that I read it straight through twice, then recommended it to every person I know who has a daughter. This book will, no question, make you a better-and a saner-parent of your adolescent girl.” – Peggy Orenstein, author of Girls & Sex

Lisa Damour concludes her book with these wise, comforting words:

“Raising a young woman will be one of the most vexing, delighting, exhausting and fulfilling things you will ever do. Sometimes all on the same day. The job is hard enough even under the best conditions, and anyone doing a hard job deserves support. When we get that support, when we understand the developmental tour de force that is adolescence, we can truly enjoy and empower our girls.”

It’s lucky that Lisa Damour has written a book that offers the support parents need to not only raise healthy, strong girls but also enjoy that journey. I’m convinced Untangled will become a classic-the one book of this decade that we all talk about and hopefully refer to for needed guidance.

But even more important how lucky it is that our girls have Lisa Damour as an ally.



Dr. Michele Borba, Parenting Expert

I am an educational psychologist, parenting expert, and author of 22 books including The Big Book of Parenting Solutions: 101 Answers to Your Everyday Challenges and Wildest Worries. You can also refer to my  blog, Dr. Borba’s Reality Check for ongoing parenting solutions and late-breaking news and research about child development.

My new book, UNSELFIE: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World will be in print June 2016. (Yahoo!) I’ve spent the last five years researching and writing this book as well as literally flying around the world to find the best ways we can activate our children’s hearts. My goal is to create a conversation that makes us rethink or view of success as exclusively grades, rank and score and includes traits of humanity! It’s filled with common-sense solutions based on the latest science to help us raise compassionate, caring, courageous kids. It’s time to include “empathy” in our parenting and teaching!

Get more Parenting Solutions by following me on Twitter @MicheleBorba