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Under Pressure: Confronting the Epidemic of Stress and Anxiety in Girls - Lisa Damour

Last updated Aug 29, 2023


# Metadata

# Highlights

# Introduction

girls between the ages of twelve and seventeen are now nearly three times more likely than boys to become depressed. (Location 113)

Our daughters hit puberty earlier than our sons do, and the age of puberty for girls keeps dropping. (Location 130)

Reacting with alarm to normal difficulties can make them worse and even contribute to a girl’s unhealthy levels of stress and anxiety. (Location 157)

# CHAPTER ONE Coming to Terms with Stress and Anxiety

stress and anxiety aren’t all bad. In fact, you can’t thrive without them. (Location 178)

both common sense and scientific research tell us that the stress of operating beyond our comfort zones helps us grow. (Location 188)

Pushing ourselves past familiar limits builds our capacities in the same way that runners prepare for marathons by gradually extending the distances at which they train. (Location 190)

people who are able to weather difficult life experiences, such as riding out a serious illness, often go on to demonstrate higher-than-average resilience when faced with new hardships. (Location 192)

When we let our own inner Chicken Little take over and panic in the face of manageable challenges, we set a bad example. When we accept that stress often leads to growth—and help our girls do the same—we create a self-fulfilling prophecy for ourselves and for our daughters. (Location 202)

Whether stress becomes unhealthy depends on two variables: the nature of the problem and the person upon whom the problem lands. (Location 210)

Psychologists consider stress to be unhealthy when it interferes with well-being in the short or long term. (Location 211)

When psychologists study stress and its impact on health, we sort it into three distinct domains, namely life events, daily hassles, and chronic stress. (Location 235)

change equals stress. The more change a life event requires, the more taxing it will be. (Location 239)

Appreciating that our own daily hassles really do compound stress can spur us to take steps to minimize them. (Location 247)

for difficulties that cannot be changed, research shows that practicing acceptance is the critical first step. (Location 267)

Taking a strategic approach—fixing what we can and finding a way to live with what remains—makes it possible to feel less helpless and more relaxed, even in the face of substantial adversity. (Location 295)

stress usually refers to the feeling of emotional or mental strain or tension, anxiety usually refers to the feeling of fear, dread, or panic. (Location 298)

We can’t always tease stress and anxiety apart, and most of the time we don’t need to. For practical purposes, we can treat the two concepts as nearly interchangeable (Location 302)

Anxiety is a gift, handed down by evolution, to keep humans safe. (Location 307)

people (and teenagers are, of course, first and foremost people) feel much more comfortable broaching touchy topics when they’re not cornered into doing so. (Location 331)

when a girl gets anxious we want her to take that emotion seriously and wonder, “Why is my alarm going off? And what’s the best way to get it to quiet down?” (Location 367)

Even when anxiety serves a useful purpose—perhaps helping us discover an outside door flung open by the wind—it’s a biological, emotional, mental, and physical workout. (Location 385)

This constant ringing of the anxiety bell can undermine sleep, concentration, and, of course, the ability to feel calm or happy. (Location 392)

we diagnose an anxiety disorder only when a person’s worries are entirely out of proportion to the perceived threat or if they hamstring daily functioning. (Location 398)

At some point in our lifetimes, nearly 30 percent of us will be hit by a wave of anxiety so intense that it includes some combination of nausea, dizziness, numbness, tingling, a feeling of detachment from reality, chills, sweating, and, as already noted, fear that one is losing control or dying. (Location 405)

we diagnose panic disorder only when recurrent, unexpected attacks sow the constant fear of having another attack or cause people to rearrange their lives. (Location 408)

Panic attacks happen, but we don’t want to give a single attack more power than it deserves. (Location 421)

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) takes a tailored and systematic approach to treating the four components of anxiety we’ve addressed. (Location 434)

I asked tentatively, “Is there any chance that you’re feeling sort of frustrated with her?” In truth, I suspected that Simone was far more than frustrated, but I’ve learned to tiptoe toward any feeling that is being kept at bay. Asking, “Are you enraged?” only shuts clients down, especially when they have built ramparts around their anger. (Location 470)

Not all anxiety can be chalked up to a hidden cause, but we should bear in mind that anxiety works to alert us to threats both from without and from within. (Location 482)

When therapy doesn’t provide sufficient relief, or work quickly enough, anxious feelings can also be managed with medical help. (Location 486)

The symptoms of anxiety are usually warded off so long as the medication is in use, which allows clients to capitalize on the anxiety cease-fire to explore hidden, difficult feelings in therapy or to learn relaxation techniques, thinking strategies, and routines that may give them the option of ultimately managing their distress without medication. (Location 500)

Mindfulness addresses anxiety by teaching its practitioners to carefully observe their emotions, ideas, and sensations, but not to get carried away by them. (Location 505)

Then, once the people we care for are in close touch with their own painful, upsetting, or frightening internal worlds, we step back to reassuringly point out that what they have discovered is only a thought or only a feeling—and that they have options for how they might respond to their ideas and emotions. (Location 510)

To help girls manage their jitters, we address the same four response systems that serve as a safeguard in healthy anxiety and misfire when anxiety is out of control: physical reactions, emotional responses, thought patterns, and behavioral impulses. (Location 528)

The brain is particularly interested in dispatches arriving from the respiratory system because, if a person is suffocating, the brain needs to tell the body to start freaking out. (Location 545)

Square breathing is easy to do, but it’s most effective if it’s a well-worn groove that a girl can slip into when she’s feeling afraid.” (Location 556)

You’ll want to validate her concerns while helping her see that they’re probably exaggerated.” (Location 563)

anxiety can get us to do things that provide immediate relief—such as seeking reassurance or compulsively checking on something we’re worried about—but these nervous habits don’t help in the long run because they only reinforce the idea that something’s really wrong. (Location 573)

# CHAPTER TWO Girls at Home

full-blown phobias can develop when people routinely evade the things they fear. (Location 630)

When your girl wants you to stand between her and something she fears, resist acting on your gut instinct—the protective impulse to rescue her—and turn your attention toward helping her approach the source of her anxiety. (Location 659)

She’s letting you know how helpless she feels by making you feel every bit as helpless, too. There are many ways to share a feeling. At our best, we can put our emotions into words and express them to the caring, supportive people in our lives, knowing that they will respond with warmth and compassion. At our not-so-best, we become overwhelmed by our emotions and communicate them by inducing them in others. This is what happens when we feel angry and decide to pick a fight. (Location 673)

When a teenager becomes upset, her supercharged emotions can hijack the whole neurological system, unleashing a blinding glitter storm and turning your otherwise rational daughter into a sobbing puddle on your kitchen floor. (Location 702)

As parents we want to respond, but not react, to our daughters’ meltdowns. (Location 733)

Why doesn’t reassurance work, especially in response to irrational concerns? Because it doesn’t take the problem, however silly it may seem, seriously and thus strikes girls as dismissive. If we want to get rid of a worry for good, we must earnestly engage it. (Location 747)

Modeling the ability to tolerate a bad situation helps our daughters to do the same. (Location 753)

Taking time to strategize seriously with girls, even about concerns that we view as overblown, helps them to feel calmer and more in control. (Location 754)

the stuff of life can be divided into three categories: things we like, things we can handle, and things that constitute a crisis. Anyone who spends time with young people knows that when children and teenagers become upset, they can forget about that middle category. (Location 762)

To me, asking a girl how she wants to handle something feels like a vote of confidence. It gives her some say in her misery and moves her out of the position of simply hoping the problem will go away. (Location 794)

managing intractable stress: first she must find a way to accept the situation, then she must find a happy distraction. (Location 797)

acknowledging that a situation stinks and will need to be handled sends a powerful, stress-reducing message: “I’m truly sorry about what you are facing. The good news is that this is not a crisis and that I’m here to help you manage it.” (Location 808)

empathize with how wretched it must be to feel that way. (Location 814)

If you are feeling overwhelmed by stress or if you often experience high levels of anxiety, make sure that you are getting the support you deserve, (Location 836)

using the defense of rationalization to make the best of a bad situation. (Location 849)

so long as we use a variety of defenses and avoid the ones that warp the truth or damage relationships, these mental shields make it possible for us to withstand the psychological slings and arrows of everyday life. (Location 853)

Psychologists have long understood that teenagers sometimes deal with painful feelings by handing their unwanted emotions off to their parents. (Location 895)

For parenting, cellphones aren’t altogether different. Like CT scans, they can provide a ton of information that stands to be both anxiety-provoking and difficult to interpret. (Location 957)

irreverence and boundary-pushing are actually signs of normal and healthy development in teenagers (Location 963)

decades of being a practicing clinician have convinced me that the most powerful force for good in a young person’s life is having a caring, working relationship with at least one loving adult. (Location 982)

supervising our daughter’s digital activity cannot keep her safe if we don’t also have a clear and direct line of communication with her. (Location 985)

it’s best to try to set our family’s baseline activity levels at about 75 percent of what we can actually accomplish. (Location 1020)

often, we make the most of time just by having it. Deliberately underscheduling my family—always against my own instincts—continues to prove itself a reliable strategy for reducing the strain in our lives, and on many days increasing the joy. (Location 1032)

Lund and Dearing found that prosperity, in and of itself, posed no risk to healthy psychological development. The affluence of a family’s neighborhood, however, did matter, and it mattered a lot. (Location 1049)

under stress, girls collapse in on themselves and boys act out. (Location 1053)

it is sometimes true that we can ease the stress that we, and our daughters, feel by deciding to know, do, and spend less. (Location 1080)

# CHAPTER THREE Girls Among Girls

Long-established research tells us that newborns come preprogrammed with dispositions and that most babies can be assigned to one of three categories: easy children, who are generally cheerful and adapt quickly to novelty; difficult children, who have irregular routines, dislike change, and can be pretty cranky; and slow-to-warm-up children who are pretty low-key and need a long time to adjust to new experiences. (Location 1123)

Though our culture rewards extroverts who jump into new situations with both feet, there’s a lot to be said for those who watch and wait before deciding how to move forward. (Location 1168)

over time, it probably won’t take so long for her cautious first reaction to give way to a second reaction once her visceral response dies down. (Location 1176)

the happiest girls are those with one or two solid friendships. Having a couple of reliable buddies reduces stress by lending predictability to girls’ social lives. (Location 1188)

Studies find that girls are more empathic than boys, a difference that is explained by how we socialize our daughters and sons, not by some innate biological factor. Girls, more than boys, are raised on a steady diet of encouragement to “think about how the other person would feel,” (Location 1206)

Girls who are good at dealing with social friction spend more time enjoying their friends and less time ruminating about the latest social kerfuffle. (Location 1214)

our daughters look to us for cues about how troubled they should be when things go badly, so in order to be most helpful, we need to accept that it’s normal for girls to have difficulty getting along. (Location 1215)

Girls, as a group, are bad at dealing with conflict because people, as a group, are bad at dealing with it. (Location 1219)

Once we accept that putting more than one conscious person in the same room guarantees that, eventually, there will be friction, we can turn our energy toward understanding the ins and outs of interpersonal discord. (Location 1223)

The three forms of unhealthy conflict are instantly recognizable: acting as a bulldozer, acting as a doormat, or acting as a doormat with spikes. A bulldozer deals with disagreements by running people over, while doormats allow themselves to be run over. The doormat with spikes employs passive-aggressive tactics, such as using guilt as a weapon, playing the part of the victim, or involving third parties in what should be a one-on-one disagreement. (Location 1226)

For healthy conflict, the guiding metaphor is a pillar. It stands up for itself without stepping on anyone else. (Location 1231)

if we can recognize and observe our first reaction—to be a bulldozer, doormat, or doormat with spikes—without allowing ourselves to act on it, we can usually find our way to reflecting on how we might become a pillar as our second reaction. (Location 1233)

it is basically impossible to be a pillar online because pillar communications rely heavily on tone. (Location 1290)

aikido, if someone is coming at you, the first thing you do is step out of that person’s path. This pulls you out of harm’s way, and it can leave your opponent off balance.” (Location 1313)

how competent adult women often handle interpersonal conflicts. We pick our battles. We decide when, and with whom, a confrontation is worthwhile. (Location 1334)

confrontation, even when done well, is psychologically taxing. (Location 1336)

Experts note that adolescents aren’t enthralled by technology—they’re enthralled by the peers on the other end of the technology they happen to be using. (Location 1350)

there’s nothing new or strange about young people’s intense desire to be connected to one another at all times, (Location 1365)

You can reduce the resistance to any rules you make by holding the whole family to them. (Location 1378)

Here are some aspects of your daughter’s life that you might actively look to protect from the intrusion of technology: enjoying face-to-face conversations with family members, having uninterrupted time to concentrate on homework, being physically active, pursuing hobbies, playing outdoors, and being able to fall asleep quickly and stay asleep through the night. (Location 1381)

With the onset of puberty, all teenagers experience a natural phenomenon known as sleep phase delay, which makes it easier for them to stay up later at night and sleep longer in the morning. (Location 1404)

When we get enough sleep, we can handle most of what life hands us; when we don’t, we become frazzled and brittle. (Location 1410)

In lieu of judgment, we should offer support. (Location 1492)

Our objective is actually a simple one: to remind our daughters that what they see online does not, and cannot, represent the wonderful, messy complexity of her peers any more than what she posts online tells the whole story about herself. (Location 1497)

Our bodies sometimes break down when we’re taxed, but everyone’s body breaks down in a different way. (Location 1515)

We can help our daughters feel less stressed when competing by illuminating the difference between being an aggressive competitor and being an aggressive person. (Location 1537)

Though it can be tempting to let our daughter win, doing so unhelpfully suggests that beating her is somehow unkind. (Location 1539)

we can play to win while simultaneously encouraging and celebrating our girl every time she makes a smart move or scores. If our daughters feel discouraged about losing to us, we can say with compassion, (Location 1540)

We can tell our daughters that they should go all out when they are in the proverbial pool, such as on tests, at auditions, when performing, and during competitions. Then we can remind them that, once back on land, we expect them to celebrate and support their peers, regardless of how things went in the water. (Location 1546)

your envy of Trish and your happiness for her can actually live side by side. The only thing you should feel bad about is if you act on your jealousy in some unkind way. (Location 1569)

I’m hoping you can let yourself off that hook. Judge yourself for what you do, not what you think or feel. (Location 1573)

# CHAPTER FOUR Girls Among Boys

sexual harassment is commonplace among adolescents, and that girls are routinely made to feel that they should not complain about it. (Location 1648)

many of the girls seemed to feel ashamed of the harassment they’d endured and uncertain of their culpability. (Location 1651)

The fact that guys sometimes make inappropriate comments or advances has absolutely nothing to do with what you are wearing, how you look, whether you’re at a party or a dance, or anywhere else. Harassment is about, and only about, someone trying to feel big by making someone else feel small. (Location 1660)

The more we pull sexually aggressive behavior out of the shadows, the more we minimize the needless shame girls feel about being mistreated. (Location 1698)

Studies document that high school girls who are not heterosexual are subjected to at least as much sexual harassment as their straight classmates. (Location 1708)

lesbian, bisexual, or questioning students may not feel they can seek help from their peers or parents when they are on the receiving end of sexualized slurs, teasing, rumor spreading, or worse. (Location 1712)

most girls and women have a primitive fear reaction that kicks in when a guy advertises that he’s willing to try to abuse his power. (Location 1726)

harassment is actually a sexualized form of bullying. Bullies use social or physical power to intimidate and demean others. (Location 1730)

To both our daughters and our sons we should say, “If you’re standing there when someone’s being mean or sexually inappropriate, you’ve got an obligation to do something. You need to protect the person who is being attacked, tell an adult what’s happening, or both.” (Location 1742)

Without being consciously aware of doing so, adults give young people the impression that, in the romantic sphere, one person plays offense and the other plays defense. We advance this misguided idea in more ways than we realize, and when we do, we suggest that boys are usually the ones trying to score and that it falls to girls to hold them off. (Location 1767)

what’s a young woman to do when her mind and body are telling her one thing and the adults are telling her another? Often, girls are left feeling anxious and ashamed about their normal and expectable feelings. (Location 1793)

unlike the comparable words we have for girls, many boys would wear player with pride because they have been raised in a culture that prizes virile men. (Location 1801)

Sexual double standards (Location 1805)

advising young people on their emerging love lives. While we’re at it, we should follow the guidance of Dr. Mary Ott, a pediatrician specializing in adolescent sexual health, who notes, “We want our teenagers to develop meaningful relationships and we want them to experience intimacy.” To this end, she recommends that we “move our conversations about sex away from sex as a risk factor category and toward sex as part of healthy development.” (Location 1819)

we want to underscore the value of having an honest and trusting relationship with one’s romantic companion. (Location 1830)

physical intimacy should be a joyful, collaborative endeavor in any form it takes. (Location 1836)

‘Why are there words for girls like ho and slut, but nothing similar for boys?’ ” While loading her groceries onto the conveyer belt Lexi’s mom continued, “I said, ‘Good question!’ and then pointed out that our words say a lot about what we believe as a culture and that, unfortunately, we don’t really have positive words for girls with active love lives.” (Location 1852)

sexism gets built into our language.” To that I added, “Let’s hope that our daughters find the right words to describe healthy female sexuality, (Location 1856)

consent, the word itself is a legal term that articulates a minimum standard of one person granting permission to another. We can say, “Something’s wrong if you’re granting someone permission to take you on a date, to hold your hand, or to do anything else. Your love life should be a whole lot more fun than that!” (Location 1867)

we would never want our child to take a response of “Okay…fine” from a romantic partner as a green light for sexual activity. A healthy love life centers on finding areas of joyful agreement. (Location 1869)

Accepting bare permission as an adequate standard reinforces precisely the anxiety-provoking offense-defense framework we are trying to move beyond. (Location 1874)

When we instead talk in terms of coming to enthusiastic agreement with one’s partner, we replace a stressful model with a happy one. (Location 1879)

Girls who aren’t well acquainted with their own sexual wishes are the ones who are most likely to make compromises in their physical relationships, to go along with sexual activity they don’t actually want, and to put their health at risk. (Location 1886)

girls who feel that they don’t have a right to enjoy physical sexuality lead romantic lives marked by stress and anxiety. (Location 1898)

our daughters that they are equals of men, entitled—especially in matters pertaining to their own bodies—to use their veto power without embarrassment or apology. (Location 1909)

two common scenarios in which young women were unwilling to say a flat “no.” The first was when they were worried about hurting a guy’s feelings, and the second was when they were fearful that doing so could provoke a hostile response. (Location 1938)

In everyday interactions, flat-out refusals are rare because they are usually humiliating. Instead, most people decline requests through a combination of saying something nice, expressing regret, and offering an explanation or excuse. (Location 1942)

We can let our daughters know that there might be times when they should feel free to say, at any point in the interaction, “Hey, this is really fun. I’m not sure what you had in mind, but I don’t want to have sex tonight.” (Location 1949)

Language scholars note that direct refusals, especially those provided without explanation, are often taken to be rude or hostile given our society’s clearly established and overwhelmingly indirect conventions for saying “no.” (Location 1959)

expecting total transparency in tricky social situations is unrealistic for most people. (Location 1974)

Our daughters can enjoy their romantic lives only if they’re comfortable expressing what they do want and have practical ways to steer clear of doing things that they don’t. (Location 1984)

booty calls (having regular sex with a partner to whom one has no emotional attachment) (Location 1989)

We don’t entirely know why today’s teenagers and young adults are more sexually conservative than previous generations, but we do know this: the statistics don’t match the perception that we are raising a highly promiscuous bunch. (Location 1997)

Believing the hype about the hookup culture can create real discomfort for our daughters. Those who don’t want to take part in emotionally detached physical intimacy may worry that there’s something wrong with them for not wanting to go along with the (actually nonexistent) trend. (Location 2011)

how do those who feel uncomfortable about casual sex get themselves to go through with it? Often, with the help of alcohol. (Location 2014)

drinking is more closely involved with hooking up for women than it is for men. (Location 2019)

mainstream commercial pornography has coalesced around a relatively homogenous script involving violence and female degradation. (Location 2044)

“Men want to…have anal sex, which is common in pornography and it is easy to think that anal sex is standard, but it is not.” While some women report enjoying anal sex, studies usually find that the majority of women who try it find it to be a negative or painful experience. (Location 2049)

I took the open look on her face as permission to proceed. (Location 2085)

if hanging out with Chris doesn’t work when you’re sober, then you’ll want to renegotiate the terms of the relationship. Or move on. (Location 2093)

I know you know this, but it’s sometimes hard to remember that your romantic life should be built around what you want. (Location 2097)

your friendships and romances should help you feel good—not leave you feeling unhappy and anxious. (Location 2111)

When it comes to helping our daughters conduct their relationships with boys, we know what we need to do. We must teach them to stand up for themselves if they are ever bullied or harassed, encourage them to pay attention to what they want from their love lives, and to seek out the guys, as friends and perhaps as lovers, who treat them with the warmth and kindness they deserve. (Location 2112)

# CHAPTER FIVE Girls at School

young women we are raising today. Beginning in elementary school and continuing through college, statistics show that girls get better grades than boys in every subject. (Location 2122)

being pushed beyond one’s comfort zone is often a good thing, and the stress that students encounter at school for the most part happens to be the healthy kind. All growth comes with some discomfort, (Location 2133)

The term progressive overload describes the familiar training program of adding repetitions or lifting bigger dumbbells over time to trigger muscle growth. (Location 2137)

It’s important to frame the demands of education in positive, capacity-building terms, because doing so actually changes how our daughters experience school. (Location 2176)

First, recovery strategies are highly personal. What works for one person won’t necessarily work for another, and everyone needs to figure out what works best for them. Second, having a good recovery strategy is vital because, as with muscle building, intellectual growth depends on both doing hard work and replenishing one’s reserves. (Location 2184)

experts have noted that our daughters, more than our sons, take to heart the feedback they get from teachers. (Location 2194)

Excessive preparation helps girls to quiet their worries about their academic performance, it consistently yields excellent outcomes that leave them feeling proud, and it earns them praise from their parents and teachers. For students who are motivated by fear, this system is exceedingly effective. Until it becomes unsustainable. (Location 2240)

Finally, I fell back on a question I had been taught early in my training to go to in situations where I couldn’t make heads or tails of a problem that a client was describing. “Can you walk me through a typical day?” I asked. (Location 2254)

Boys, as a group, are not doing as well in school as they should, while girls, as a group, are often stressed by their meticulous and inefficient approach to their academic lives. (Location 2304)

That’s what middle school is for. The stakes aren’t as high as they will be later, so now’s the time to figure out how to coast effectively when you can and how to floor it when you need to. Why not treat this as an experiment and see where it goes. (Location 2359)

When we allow our daughters to persistently overexert themselves, they develop tons of confidence in their work ethic and none in their talents. Before they graduate, girls should feel reassured that they can draw on both. (Location 2379)

when Hewlett-Packard looked into why there were so few women in top management spots, they found that the women at their company would only apply for positions when they felt they had 100 percent of the qualifications listed for the job. The men, in contrast, put themselves forward when they felt they met 60 percent of the requirements. (Location 2393)

We want our girls to build real skills, to know how to work hard when they need to, and to believe that their talents will help them rise to meet challenges. (Location 2401)

a massive review of the research on effective learning techniques found that students’ preferred study strategies are far and away the least effective. (Location 2408)

students learn material best when they engage with it, step away from it, and come back to it. (Location 2419)

there is a strong and persistent bias against girls and young women in math and science classes to this day. (Location 2432)

When girls and minorities sense low expectations but don’t realize that these can cause test anxiety, they look for other ways to explain their nerves. (Location 2456)

Replacing a false negative stereotype with a true positive one has also been found to reduce test anxiety and protect test performance. (Location 2464)

feeling nervous clouds thinking, (Location 2472)

A study of second and third graders found that boys and girls are equally likely to have significant reading problems, but the boys are referred by their teachers for evaluation and support much more often. When guys feel frustrated at school, they often disrupt the classroom and bring attention their way; girls, in contrast, tend to fret quietly while trying to cover up the gaps in their understanding. (Location 2475)

When a girl spends a lot of time agonizing about her grades, avoiding certain work, or studying way too hard in an effort to try to keep up, we need to rule out the possibility that she has an undiagnosed learning or attention problem before we do anything else. (Location 2482)

an approach that tends to work well with teenagers: total honesty. (Location 2537)

parents should make sure that they and their daughters share the same expectations. (Location 2557)

parents should do everything they can to keep their daughters from setting their hearts on one or two selective schools. (Location 2562)

A 2006 study on the connection between wealth and well-being tells us that happiness in adulthood rises steadily up to the point of having a family income of $50,000. Above that level, making more money has a negligible effect. (Location 2586)

Adults with high levels of well-being feel good about themselves, have a sense that they are growing and learning, and enjoy healthy, satisfying relationships with other people. Happy grown-ups believe that their life has meaning and direction, they measure themselves against their own standards, and they feel successful in their endeavors. (Location 2588)

we should just about ditch the projectiles model altogether. Instead of regarding school as locking in launch settings, we might better think of it as one early stretch of a long and largely self-determined path. (Location 2607)

research had found: academic performance does not suffer when parents value their children’s relationships with others at least as much as they value how their children are doing academically. (Location 2625)

When a girl gets a poor grade—as she inevitably will—she might fear that she has wrecked her trajectory. We can calm her nerves by pointing out that life is all about following a misstep with a course correction. (Location 2630)

# CHAPTER SIX Girls in the Culture

Our culture holds girls and young women to unfair and unwavering expectations: we want them to be agreeable, forthcoming, and attractive. (Location 2640)

girls are far more likely than boys to engage in grinding rumination. Whether they are conscious of it or not, many girls (and women) devote valuable energy to a mental channel that constantly, and anxiously, evaluates the impact of small, everyday choices. (Location 2707)

our daughters have gotten the powerful, if often unspoken, message that they are expected to accommodate others. (Location 2711)

We want our daughters to become self-assured advocates for their own best interests, rather than wasting valuable energy worrying that making rational choices to protect their time will be met with disapproval—especially in circumstances where boys never would. (Location 2717)

we should notice that we, too, unwittingly join the chorus that presses girls to acquiesce to requests they don’t really need to honor. (Location 2737)

So long as they are not worried about harming a relationship or causing social backlash, girls are often great at saying no, directly and unapologetically. And guys aren’t always commanding. In fact, most boys and men have ample social skills to politely turn down requests and to be indirect as needed. (Location 2750)

Granted, boys and men—far more than girls and women—are given license to be curt or impolite if they want. (Location 2755)

for girls in particular, bluntness can backfire. (Location 2763)

we want to help our girls recognize and grapple with the inequities they face. From there, they can decide for themselves when they want to try to gain ground through a frontal assault and when it might be to their advantage to use a more indirect approach. (Location 2788)

Cameron noted that when we criticize the speech of a disempowered group, we are simply finding a new way to express an established bias. (Location 2798)

Cameron does note that young women tend to be at the vanguard of language change, so there are times when they branch out into new linguistic habits ahead of everyone else. Though their innovations are often criticized, it’s usually not long before their new ways of talking become mainstream. (Location 2803)

Let’s start with the assumption that there’s a logic to how our daughters speak, even when their style rubs us the wrong way. Girls are excellent at reflecting on how they express themselves. We should not hesitate to ask them what’s behind their language choices and, if necessary, help them consider other options at their disposal. (Location 2826)

Girls who have varied repertoires for saying no are less likely to go along with other people’s wishes or to worry that they will be called names when they turn someone down. (Location 2830)

a simple formula that could help her figure out what she wanted to do and how she wanted to communicate her wishes to her coach. It goes like this: yes, no, yes. The first “yes” reflects the fact that when we decline something, it’s because we are trying to say yes to something else. (Location 2842)

Girls care about their relationships, and unless we give them strategies for doing otherwise, they will often sacrifice themselves before damaging a meaningful connection. (Location 2858)

Perhaps the most effective tool in a girl’s verbal Swiss Army knife is her deft use of intonation, which, as we know, sits at the heart of communication. (Location 2861)

“I’m excited about the movie but can’t make the sleepover”—have your daughter play with the many tones that could give it a huge range of meanings. The exact same words can be said brusquely, sheepishly, caustically, or—what we’re shooting for here—with a gentle confidence that communicates her lack of guilt about her sleepover regrets, and genuine delight in getting to see the movie with her friends. (Location 2868)

Having negative thoughts and feelings is not inherently problematic, since thinking, feeling, and doing operate independently of one another. We can’t easily control—and rarely need to control—what we think and feel. We must only regulate how we actually conduct ourselves. (Location 2898)

For girls who believe that their thoughts, feelings, and actions must be in full agreement, simply having a negative sentiment triggers anxiety. (Location 2903)

An everyday annoyance, such as being assigned to work on a group project with an irritating classmate, leaves the girl who assumes she should be utterly transparent with two—and only two—untenable options. To be completely “honest,” she must make no attempt to hide her irritation and suffer the consequences. Or, the girl must feel ashamed of her irritation and fretfully search for a way to purge her heart (and mind and behavior) of any unpleasantness. (Location 2904)

As parents, we sometimes forget that our girls have, and should have, front and back stages. (Location 2923)

To me, a genuine and authentic girl is one who feels that she can really get to know herself. (Location 2940)

having a safe place to vent our true feelings usually makes it easier to be on good behavior around people we don’t like. Unloading our displeasure can also clear the path toward finding constructive strategies for dealing with difficult relationships. (Location 2942)

The more you squelch a sentiment, the more likely it is to come out sideways. (Location 2945)

All the same, we should support our girls as they explore and establish their public and private personas, as we want them to regard themselves as nuanced and complex. (Location 2960)

The cosmetic and body product industry spends $13 billion each year on advertisements suggesting to girls and women that they need to do something about how they look. (Location 2966)

we have two problems. First, cultural forces constantly signal to our daughters that how they look just might be more important than anything else. Second, our culture promotes a Bambi-eyed, pearly-toothed, smooth-and-lustrous-haired, flawless-skinned, fit-but-thin-but-curvy beauty ideal that is actually impossible for most girls and young women to replicate. (Location 2970)

Focusing on young women’s superficial qualities can keep them from showing us just how substantial they really are. (Location 2984)

As parents, we should try to downplay the importance of our daughters’ surface features and showcase the importance of everything else about them. (Location 2985)

We don’t want our girls to feel bad about their looks, yet we should aim to balance the enthusiasm we express about their appearance with our enthusiasm about the rest of what they have to offer the world. (Location 3051)

I would never want to deny a girl the joy of feeling pretty—and there are real pleasures to be had in dressing in flattering clothes, playing with makeup, and doing one’s hair—but we should bear in mind that to take pride in one’s physical form is to take pride in one’s most superficial quality. (Location 3053)

structured athletic programs that involve skill building, cooperation, and shared goals help girls to take pleasure in what their bodies can accomplish. (Location 3063)

we want our daughters to find lots of ways to feel happy both in and about their bodies. (Location 3078)

For minority girls, having a supportive family waiting at home helps to buffer some of the negative effects of bigotry. (Location 3131)

to a great degree, the work of addressing discrimination sits squarely on the shoulders of those in the cultural majority. (Location 3133)

we should not run from discomfort. When we confront what makes us uneasy—and help our daughters do the same—we find that anxiety is usually a warning that something is amiss, and that stress is inherent to growth and change. (Location 3140)

# Conclusion

Tension and turmoil, we find, are strange creatures. They don’t die down when our daughters avoid them. In fact, when we shrink from pressure and fear, they just take on new, harrowing proportions. (Location 3155)

Stress, it turns out, rises when our daughters are pushed to operate at the edge of their capacities. (Location 3160)

Anxiety, as we now know, often arrives as a well-meaning messenger. (Location 3163)

The world asks more of our daughters than it ever has before, and it now offers them more, too. As parents, we’re at our best when we help our girls advance, not retreat, in the face of the challenges and opportunities they will inevitably encounter. Because girls who learn to face their fears find out just how brave they can be. (Location 3166)

Stahl, B., and Goldstein, E. (2010). A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook. (Location 4001)

Dell’Antonia, K. J. (2018): How to Be a Happier Parent: Raising a Family, Having a Life, and Loving (Almost) Every Minute of It. (Location 4004)

Kabat-Zinn, J. (2007). Arriving at Your Own Door: 108 Lessons in Mindfulness. (Location 4006)

Wiseman, R. (2009). Queen Bees and Wannabes: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends, and the New Realities of the Girl World. New York: Three Rivers Press. (Location 4019)

Siegel, D. J. (2013). Brainstorm: The Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain. New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin. (Location 4027)

Tolman, D. L. (2005). Dilemmas of Desire: Teenage Girls Talk About Sexuality. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. (Location 4028)

Fonda, J. (2014). Being a Teen: Everything teen girls and boys should know about relationships, sex, love, health, identity & more. New York: Random House. (Location 4032)

Kay, K., and Shipman, C. (2018). The Confidence Code for Girls: Taking risks, messing up, & becoming your amazingly imperfect, totally powerful self. New York: HarperCollins. (Location 4042)

Orenstein, P. (2011). Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the New Girly-Girl Culture. New York: HarperCollins. (Location 4047)

Tatum, B. D. (2017). Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria: And other conversations about race. New York: Basic Books. (Location 4051)