Inside this post: If you’re like us, you need all the help you can get in raising teens. Here are five of our favorite books for parenting teen daughters.
We think teen girls get a bad rap. They are often portrayed as surly and spoiled, always rolling their eyes or slamming their doors.
And yes, sometimes this is true, but more often than not, we simply just don’t understand or appreciate what is going on in those developing minds. They are misunderstood, so as parents, we need to do a better job of reacting to their behavior. Raising boys versus girls isn’t really a matter of harder versus easier. It’s just a matter of different.
Science shows that girls’ and boys’ brains develop differently
The truth of the matter is, raising any teenager in today’s modern world is hard, but science and research have shown that while many adolescents face the same issues, the female brain does develop differently than the male. For example, girls’ language development is usually about a year and a half ahead of boys at age 13. The frontal lobe, you know, the one we always talk about for decision-making, is often more developed in females during the teen years as well.
The amygdala, where emotions generally arise, develops about eighteen months sooner in girls than in boys in early adolescence, which may explain why teen girls can express their feelings easier and boys often keep their thoughts to themselves.
Girls often have the physical changes of adolescence occur earlier than boys, including pubic hair, growth spurts, and other body changes. Because they experience these raging hormones earlier, this may be the reason that moms and dads often cite raising teenage girls as more difficult.
One thing is the same across both genders, however. There are large swings in their emotional behavior during puberty, and this onslaught of hormones can have a profound impact on their personality. Teens are learning how to control their emotions and impulses without a fully developed frontal lobe and no life experience yet to draw from. Their reactions are often instinctual based on their current emotional state.
Combine this with the volatility of today’s modern world, including social media and the 24-hour news cycle, political unrest, school shootings, extreme competition in all aspects of life, and global health and environmental concerns, and teenagers can feel the weight of the world upon their small shoulders.
The issues impacting modern teen girls.
While we think many issues are not gender-specific, there are certain things that many adolescent girls go through more frequently than their male counterparts. Some of this is developmental and some are based on society or parental norms, but either way, we need to know how to address these issues.
Regardless, the teen years are uncertain times, and every minor issue could feel like a major life-altering challenge.
The most common problems teen girls face today include
- appearance (body dysmorphia, eating disorders, etc.),
- self-esteem, including comparison on social media, perfectionism, etc.
- mental health issues (anxiety, depression, stress over feeling pressured)
- friendship drama, bullying and peer pressure
- substance abuse
Resources for parents that can help teen girls through these challenging years
There has been a massive decline in the mental health of teenagers over the last twenty years, and many areas to place the blame. Fortunately, many mental health professionals and parents have stepped up to the plate to share their knowledge, experiences, and stories so we can better help our daughters through these turbulent times.
We’ve found these books for raising teen girls to be extremely helpful in better understanding what our adolescent girls are going through and how to help guide them through the problems they are facing.
Here are five of our favorite books for parenting teen daughters.
Untangled by Lisa Damour
Untangled was the first book I read about raising a teenage daughter, and it blew my mind. It truly made me take a step back and look at my three daughters in a different light. While I appreciated the book’s straightforward approach to explaining my girls’ sometimes erratic behavior, I appreciated, even more, understanding what was considered “normal” development and when I should worry. The stories Damour shares about her experiences with her patients, students she advises, and even her own daughters were relatable and on-point.
From Amazon: “In this sane, highly engaging, and informed guide for parents of daughters, 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, Untangled gives parents a broad framework for understanding their daughters while addressing their most common questions.”
Of note: Damour is one of the most prolific voices and authors of books for parenting teen daughters, and she has two other high-quality books available: Under Pressure, which discusses the external factors pushing teen girls towards certain behaviors and addresses the unprecedented levels of anxiety in teen girls today, and The Emotional Lives of Teenagers: Raising Connected, Capable, and Compassionate Adolescents.
American Girls: Social Media and the Secret Lives of Teenagers by Nancy Jo Sales
Let’s be honest, none of us were prepared to deal with the impact social media would have on our kids’ lives. I know I felt cutting-edge simply having a printer in my dorm room back in the 90s, and I couldn’t imagine a world where my every move could be documented.
But social media has a profound impact on our teenagers, and as parents, it is our responsibility to learn about it and help our teens manage it better. And that’s the purpose of award-winning writer Nancy Jo Sales’s book.
Sales crisscrossed the country, speaking to more than 200 girls, ages 13 to 19, and documenting a massive change in the way girls are growing up, a phenomenon that transcends race, geography, and household income. American Girls provides a disturbing portrait of the end of childhood as we know it and of the inexorable and ubiquitous experience of a new kind of adolescence – one dominated by new social and sexual norms, where a girl’s first crushes and experiences of longing and romance occur in an accelerated electronic environment; where issues of identity and self-esteem are magnified and transformed by social platforms that provide instantaneous judgment.
While this book was written in 2016, it underscores the pervasive and prominent hold social media has on young girls. While it is eye-opening, what it doesn’t do is offer a lot of solutions or tips, so we wouldn’t say it was one of the best books for parenting teen daughters. Instead, it offers a look into what our girls are experiencing every day and reminds us that we can’t just hope for the best.
Parenting a Teen Girl: A Crash Course on Conflict, Communication and Connection with Your Teenage Daughter by Lucie Hemmen, PhD
We loved the practical nature of this book that addresses the number one issues parents of teenagers face: how to respond appropriately to what feels like erratic–or even ridiculous–behavior. It even offers scripts to help parents who are at their wit’s end and feel like throwing up their hands.
From Amazon: Parenting a Teen Girl is a guide for busy parents who want bottom-line information and tips that make sense—and work. It also offers scripts to improve communication and exercises to navigate stressful interactions with skill and compassion. Whether your teen girl is struggling with academic pressure, social difficulties, physical self-care, or technology overload, this book offers practical advice to help you connect with your teen girl. Parents and teens alike can enjoy a positive connection once common parent-teen pitfalls are replaced with solid understanding and strategies that work.
We especially appreciated the wit and humor Hemmen used that made the book easy to read and digest. It’s an instruction book on how to deal with complex issues that provide responses instead of reactions.
Of note: We also recommend The Teen Girl’s Anxiety Survival Guide: Ten Ways to Conquer Anxiety and Feel Your Best (The Instant Help Solutions Series), also by Hemmen. This is a great toolkit if you have a daughter who is dealing with anxiety or other mental health issues.
Miss-Connection: Why Your Teenage Daughter ‘Hates’ You, Expects the World and Needs to Talk by Dr. Justin Coulson
Miss-Connection was a great read because we could hear first-hand the issues teen girls are facing and then receive perspective from a parenting expert on how to handle it.
Dr Justin Coulson interviewed and surveyed close to 400 teenage girls to learn about the challenges our daughters face with social media, friends, romance, anxiety, identity, and more. Coulson draws on their responses as well as cutting-edge psychology research to explain how we can help and connect with our teenage daughters while recognizing the reality of their world and offering reassurance and solutions.
Talk with Her: A Dad’s Essential Guide to Raising Healthy, Confident, and Capable Daughters
Let’s be honest, the conflict between mothers and daughters is a tale as old as time, but there is also a tremendous opportunity for fathers to have closer and more connected relationships with their daughters. This book provides great insight for both parents, but we think it totally reframes the type of relationship dads can have with their daughters, and is one of the best books for parenting teen daughters.
From Amazon: “Communication” with your daughter doesn’t mean having “big” conversations all the time. Creating even the smallest moments of father-daughter connection can build bonds. In Talk with Her, you’ll find information on nineteen topics defining your daughter’s life—including body positivity, romantic relationships, social media, mental health, and academic achievement—along with the communication strategies you’ll need to address them with care and confidence.
With cutting-edge research, expert perspectives, and talking points, Kimberly Wolf brings broad-ranging and often overwhelming topics into focus to help you make a positive, lifelong impact on your daughter one conversation at a time.
Honorable mention books about parenting teenagers
There are several other recommended books for parenting teenagers that we love. Here’s ten of our favorites:
Parenting Teens With Love And Logic: Preparing Adolescents for Responsible Adulthood, Updated and Expanded EditionThe 7 Habits Of Highly Effective TeensHow to Talk So Teens Will Listen and Listen So Teens Will TalkParenting the New Teen in the Age of Anxiety: A Complete Guide to Your Child’s Stressed, Depressed, Expanded, Amazing AdolescenceBrainstorm: The Power and Purpose of the Teenage BrainThe Teenage Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Survival Guide to Raising Adolescents and Young AdultsWhy Do They Act That Way? – Revised and Updated: A Survival Guide to the Adolescent Brain for You and Your TeenLife Skills for Teens: How to Cook, Clean, Manage Money, Fix Your Car, Perform First Aid, and Just About Everything in BetweenEngaging Your Teen’s World: Understanding What Today’s Youth Are Thinking, Doing, and WatchingParenting in a Tech World: A handbook for raising kids in the digital age
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