I am interrupting this blog hiatus!
Life has thrown a lot of things at me in the last few months, and one of the balls I was juggling just had to fall. Sadly, that ball happened to be this blog.
But I am picking the blog back up because I had the opportunity to read an amazing book, which I feel will be an important resource for both parents and therapists.
"No More Mean Girls" by Katie Hurley, LCSW
As a therapist, I work with a lot of young girls, and I often hear the same narrative. I hear about girls who feel they need to conform in order to be liked. Or I hear about girls who feel they need to control their situations in order to feel comfortable and secure in themselves.
Women have evolved to find their strength in the social sphere. They are the caretakers and the organizers of society. Sadly, organization can tend towards rigidity, and because of this, norms have developed over time that have come to put an ever increasing amount of pressure on our young girls and women.
There’s a lot of talk these days about empowerment, and good body and self image, and “It gets better.” But I don’t feel that this talk really addresses where it all starts.
Author Hurley recognizes this. She focuses on the early experiences of girls to show us how girls organize themselves to deal with this pressure. In the recent past, the focus of the “mean girl” mentality has been on teens. However, Hurley feels that this mentality has filtered down to our elementary school girls. Girls as young as 7 years old can feel the need “…to be liked (which) can result in the perfect storm…one that can result in anxiety and depression if left unchecked.”
She explores the origins of these behaviors clearly, and gives parents (and quite frankly, this therapist) easy and interesting ways to shake up these behaviors. As a parent, I remember wanting so much to have some simple and clear ways to help my children, but not knowing how. In this book, I found what I had been looking for all these years. While it may be too late for me, it’s not too late for parents now to come to understand how they can help support their girls to be more comfortable with who they are and who they want to become.
The book is easy to read, breaking down examples of the different ways that girls act, and then giving concrete interventions in which to work with these behaviors. As well, it gives parents the opportunity to look at how their best intentions can unwittingly contribute to this pressure that they put on their daughters. To be honest, this book is not just about mean girls, but about all girls and how adults can contribute to their healthier sense of self.
Self esteem is such a loaded phrase these days, but it is important to help girls understand their own strengths, gifts and powers so that they feel free to be who they are rather than the people they feel society wants them to be.
Freed of these restraints, girls can live without the pressure to interact in prescribed ways in order to please others, but can go on to live more authentic and happy lives. This book goes a long way to helping girls get there.
“No More Mean Girls” will be released at the end of January, and can be pre-ordered through Amazon. I already have my copy on order, and I suggest you do the same!
Now, if only we can convince Ms. Hurley to write a book about boys…
Do you need a place to think about how you can apply these ideas in your child's life? Feel free to call me and let's work together!
Sherry Alamdari, M.A., Associate Marriage and Family Therapist
Under the Supervision of Bonnie Goldstein, PhD.
Sherry Alamdari is an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist. As a therapist and as a mom, she is a firm believer in helping families establish good relationships. Our family relationships are the foundation for who we are as human beings. Shoring up these relationships helps establish a good sense of well-being, and the ability to function well in our lives. Sherry has worked in Community Mental Health and in schools to help develop this sense of well-being in her clients. She is currently in process for certification in Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, and works with Individuals, Families and Groups in West Los Angeles, CA.