Friday, March 18, 2016

Book Review: Untangled by Dr. Lisa Damour

Disclosure / Disclaimer: I received this ebook, free of charge,from Random House via Netgalley, for review purposes on this blog. No other compensation, monetary or in kind, has been received or implied for this post. Nor was I told how to post about it

Since we were talking about teen girls earlier today, this is the perfect follow up book!

untangled cover


In her New York Times bestseller, Dr. Damour draws on decades of experience and the latest research to reveal the seven distinct—and absolutely normal—developmental transitions that turn girls into grown-ups, including Parting with Childhood, Contending with Adult Authority, Entering the Romantic World, and Caring for Herself. Providing realistic scenarios and welcome advice on how to engage daughters in smart, constructive ways, Untangledgives parents a broad framework for understanding their daughters while addressing their most common questions, including :

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?
- Where’s the line between healthy eating and having an eating disorder?
- My daughter’s friend is cutting herself. Do I call the girl’s mother to let her know?

Untangled  helps mothers and fathers understand, connect, and grow with their daughters. When parents know what makes their daughter tick, they can embrace and enjoy the challenge of raising a healthy, happy young woman.

Check out related videos on Lisa's website!


Have a daughter under the age of 6? GET this book NOW! With puberty coming upon girls younger and younger these days (9 is almost normal), some of the issues you will be dealing with as puberty starts and then into the throes of teenage-hood. Many of suggested ways of handling teen issues have their start in the early days of pre-teen hood, so having this book NOW, will prepare you for when the time comes to implement some of the techniques and suggestions.

Some of the more interesting thoughts from the book, that I think cover so much more than just the topic they were about:

1.  "Make your right to supervise her (social) activity a condition of gaining access to the digital world. Go with the begin-strict-then-loosen-up approach (known by teachers as “Don’t smile till December”) and start with frequent monitoring. It’s always easier to relax your rules than to create new ones when things already feel out of control." 
Working in law enforcement I can concur, better to be strict at first and let your kids earn your trust than to try to have to discipline and out of control situation, This was one of the primary items in the cell phone contract Miss Grace had to sign before she could have a phone to take with her on visitation weekends. It WORKS.

2."I suggest hold off on giving your daughter ready access to social media for as long as you can. The longer she goes without knowing the drug-like buzz of connecting to peers digitally, the more internal resources she’ll build up for managing hard feelings and solving problems."
When you think about it, it makes SO much sense. 9-11 yr olds need to make contact with each other and LEARN to read nuances, voices and facial moves, BEFORE they get caught up in social media where there are lots of shades of grey, that they have no idea on how to handle. Even older teens should learn how to SPEAK to people face to face, before getting caught in drama.

3. "For this reason, I encourage parents to ban technology (including their own) from the places where humans learn and practice social skills. This includes the dinner table, your designated family nights, and perhaps even short car rides. And this is where the many demands on girls’ time can be a good thing as girls benefit from participating in activities that suspend phone use while requiring interpersonal interaction." 
We all know about the dinner table, but adding the car in is pretty important. I can tell you, I get more info from my daughter about how school is going in the car, than I do at home. The car tends to be where your kids feel free to open up and share. You don't want them, or you, distracted from what is being said.

4. "Teens sometimes push for their parents to lighten up, but they actually count on us to act like adults."
Yes, your mother was right. You aren't meant to be your daughter's best friend. She needs you to be the proverbial 'bad guy', to give her a reason to 'just say no'. If you are permissive, trying too hard to be the 'cool' mom, then she has no excuse. Wouldn't you really give your daughter a reason to not drink alcohol or smoke drugs or cigarettes? Right, you would!

5. “Do you want my help with what you’re describing, or do you just need to vent?”
 Just like when you have a bad day at work, your daughter needs to vent. She doesn't always want to externalize and throw her problems onto your shoulders (aka making you a helicopter parent), she just needs to get the frustration out of her system. So by asking that question, you allow her to choose what is going on and then to lobby the problem back at her, with an offer to help HER work through it (but not to have you take it on for her). 

As you can see, a lot of what Dr. Danour talks about is old fashioned common sense, but in today's world, it seems pretty far gone. She offers up great ideas on how to handle frequent and common situation, that allow you to see how to handle them BEFORE they come up in your home. She also shares personal experiences, studies and personal anecdotes, to help illustrate and document the ideas she is presenting. This book will allow you to SURVIVE your daughter's preteen and teenage years sanely, and allow you to find the daughter you raised in the tangle of her emerging adult web of chaos.

AND if you have boys too, there are many suggestions in the book that would work for both boys and girls- like the social media aspects, but there are many differences in how boys respond together as a pack, and how they share emotions, so I'd say that the book is 90% girl related, but the 10% of shared material is worth looking at.

About the Author

Lisa Damour directs Laurel School’s Center for Research on Girls, writes a column for the New York Times’  Motherlode blog, maintains a private psychotherapy practice, consults and speaks internationally, and is a faculty associate of the Schubert Center for Child Studies and a clinical instructor at Case Western Reserve University.>Dr. Damour is the author of numerous academic papers, chapters, and books related to education and child development, including Abnormal Psychology, a widely-used college textbook co-authored with Dr. James Hansell.  She and her husband are the proud parents of two daughters. You can check out more on her website,

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