I have two girls. My eldest, Alyssa, is in 5th grade. She has begun to enter the phase of social pressures, struggling to find her own voice in the cacophany of “you shoulds,” seeking popularity, and being true to oneself. It’s a tough world out there, and unfortunately, my husband and I no longer hold all the answers in her eyes.
Alyssa and I have a close relationship, but I know that my words will, at times, fall on deaf ears as she seeks to find her own place in this world, and exert her independence. This is going to be a tough stage for both of us, and I want to arm her with as many resources as I can to help her to continue to be true to herself and to our family’s moral compass of right and wrong. I was introduced to a book for tweens and teens called “The Girl Guide – Finding Your Place In A Mixed Up World,” by Christine Fonseca, and I think it is going to be a great resource for her. I was given a copy of this book to facilitate my review.
A Little About “The Girl Guide” Author, Christine Fonseca
Christine Fonseca is herself a mother of two girls. She is also a trained, experience educational psychologist and author. She has penned several young adult fiction and nonfiction books, among them, “Transcend” and “101 Success Secrets for Gifted Kids.”
A Little About “The Girl Guide: Finding Your Place In A Mixed-Up World”
The Girl Guide is not just a book for girls to read – the chapters are chock-full of quizzes, “what would you do?” questions to ponder, and crafty activities to help clarify girls’ thoughts, goals, and actions. The book is split into 5 parts: The (Personal) Journey Begins, It’s All About Connections, “I think I Can” – The Power Of Belief, Finding Emotional Balance and Putting It All Into Practice.
The book and activities within are like a “personal journey diary,” giving girls a way to write down and digest what is important to them. It encourages them to think about how to stay true to their goals, beliefs, and selves, despite outside and inside pressures they experience while growing up.
Christine writes in a way that is accessible to tweens and teens, discusses what they are feeling during this time of their lives, and also encourages them to make use of their “Circle of Support” (friends, teachers, parents, pastors, neighbors, whomever) when needed.
This book is not made up of Christine “preaching” to adolescent readers. While she imparts wisdom and ideas, she also makes use of adolescent girls she has interviewed, and has THEM share their thoughts, ideas, and struggles with the reader. I think this makes “The Girl Guide” uniquely appealing to adolescent readers.
I can see this book being a great small group discussion starter too – in a summer book club or youth group setting.
10 Tips To Help Parents (and Kids) Survive Adolescence From Author Christine Fonseca
Adolescence. To say it is a rocky time is an understatement. Children grow physically, with major hormonal changes. Mentally, their thought processes develop and change, making them appear more adult-like. Yet, they have not developed many of the problem solving skills and organizational processes present in an adult brain.
Emotionally, adolescence represents a time of great turmoil as children begin to grow away from familiar parental influence. Often marked by periods of rebellion against parental rules and expectations, this is the time when children try out different personalities in search for themselves. Fortunately, there are things parents can do to make this developmental period a little less challenging:
- Review and Revise Household Rules and Expectations – Most parents are great about setting rules and expectations when children are younger. But as they age, and the needs of the household change, the rules are not always addressed. Now is the time to revisit the rules and expectations. Give your tween an opportunity to share his/her opinion about the rules. The idea is to balance out the needs of the household with the realities of today’s busy schedules, and set the family up for success.
- Don’t Buy Into The Drama – Hormones, stress, over-scheduling – all of these can lead to explosive drama from time to time. The key to navigating these uglier moments of adolescence is staying emotionally detached.
- Flexibility is Key – Teens are often very rigid in their thinking. Convinced their perspective is often the most correct one, they can’t always see your point of view. A sixteen-year-old doesn’t understand what it means to be thirty the way a thirty-year-old understands sixteen. So, as you help your child learn to appreciate other points of view or ways of doing things, put on your flexibility hat and be willing for the adolescent to learn things differently from how you are teaching them.
- Be the Parent, Not A Friend – Many parents want to be their child’s friend, especially now that he or she can appear to be more adult-like. They need your guidance more than ever, and certainly more than they will admit. Focus on being a mentor and coach. They will find friends elsewhere in their lives.
- It’s Not Personal – No one is better at personal attacks than a teenager, especially YOUR teenager. As difficult as it will be to remember, try NOT to take these attacks personally. Teens practice their conflict resolution and self-advocacy skills at this stage. And usually, this means they are very argumentative. Try to take an emotional step back and listen without getting personally hooked.
- Listen First– Focus on listening to your adolescent, especially when he or she is upset. They will often share a lot more about their world then we realize. We just need to be silent and focus long enough to hear them. By listening first we can resist the urge to launch into lecture mode, and focus on what their needs actually are.
- Make Use of Teachable Moments – In addition to lots of emotional angst, adolescence can be a time of significant behavioral difficulties. During these times, it is important to remember that behavioral missteps are going to happen. And they are not all bad. In fact, these are wonderful opportunities to re-teach behavior expectations. The important thing to remember is to stay emotionally detached, listen to what your teen is communicating through the behavior, and focus on re-teaching the missing skill.
- Separate Behavior From The Child – Building on the tip above, it is important to remember that your child’s behavior is NOT your child. Separate the two and you will be better able to keep yourself from engaging emotionally during behavioral outbursts. This will also help preserve your relationship when your child as he or she outgrows the more difficult aspects of adolescence.
- Keep Things In Perspective – It is important to remember that adolescence doesn’t last forever. The emotional drama and behavioral outbursts will end eventually. This is just another step on the road to adulthood. Being careful to not define your child by his or her behavior over the next few years and keeping it all in perspective is vital to preserving the foundation of your future relationship with your child.
- Take Time To Renew – Raising teens is exhausting, physically and emotionally. Take time to renew as parents. This means having date-nights and taking time to individually renew. Your children are preparing to leave the house. You want to make sure you have taken the time to nurture your relationship with yourself and significant other before they leave.
Adolescence is a tumultuous time for parents and children. Hopefully the tips above will make the journey a little smoother for everyone.
Buy “The Girl Guide: Finding Your Place in a Mixed-Up World”
“The Girl Guide” is from Sourcebooks Publishers, and can be purchased on their website for $14.95. It can also be found at online retailers like Barnes and Noble and Amazon.com.
Win “The Girl Guide: Finding Your Place in a Mixed-Up World”
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