Finally read this book, UNTANGLED.

     My father had recommended it!  You need to run and get it. Calling all parents of teen girls. Everything I’ve been intuitively doing is right here in elegant subtlety.  It’s not so much that anything is so new, except of course some fancy neuro-biology words such as amygdala and hippocampus and pruning.  But rather, it’s that Damour gets it.  

  1. She gets that if you come down too hard they go nuts.
  2. She gets that if you back too far off they go crazy.
  3. She gets that the punishments must fit the crimes.
  4. She gets that everything cannot be dumped into the “they’re just teenagers” bucket.
  5. And she gets that putting them in the driver’s seat in therapy is the only way to win their trust.

–“The right feeling on the wrong scale”

Her main premise is instead of corny and relentless “teachable moments” (who made up that term anyway?), a solid, practical approach is best.  Like, “Serina, do you realize if you go out on a boat with DunceBoy you may not have a way back if it turns south?”  (This actually happened to me, and I had blocked it for 30 years until this great article: (  But I digress.  It’s about getting them to learn the incredibly complex mazes of social interaction without you hovering, without constant phone dependence and without a road map.  They need skills.

I love when she says, “When you can, help your daughter to look upon a hard feeling as a really useful piece of information.  If she pays attention to it and learns from it, she can expect to have fewer hard feelings going forward (p. 100).”  If more kids could do this, instead of avoid or self-mutilate their difficulties, the fewer would come to my office when they’re 20-something saying, whoops I forgot to leave my room…

I love when she writes, “When feelings are minimized, girls often turn up the volume to make sure they, and their feelings, are heard.”  Take Mira and her Mom.  They came to my office screaming,

Mom: I won’t stop yelling until you recognize what you’ve done!

Mira: I won’t stop yelling til you admit this whole thing is your fault!

Poor Mira, she was being blamed for her mother’s affair because she blabbed about it all over town.  She was upset. While that was wrong, it was indeed her mom’s issue that started the ball rolling.  At an impasse, I finally got them both to calm down by asking them to be more concrete. What is it that you actually want from each other?

According to the Amazon page,

Untangled is a gem. Lisa Damour deftly blends insights from her clinical experience working with girls, time-honored wisdom on adolescence, the latest social science and neuroscience research, and frank descriptions of cultural trends and media messages. 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

And here is Damour on a Twitter interview, 

By reading this book we start to realize that the conversation is not about who is right or wrong, but trust.  Trust your child and eventually, she will trust you.