Welcome to the wonderful world of your daughter's adolescence. Ten seconds ago she was a sweet, confident, world-beating little girl who looked up to you. Now she's changing before your very eyesshe's confused, insecure, often surly, lashing out. On a good day, she's teary and threatening to run away. On a bad day, you're ready to help her pack her suitcase. She's facing the toughest pressures of adolescent lifetest-driving her new body, figuring out the social whirl, toughing it out in schooland intuitively you know that even though she's sometimes totally obnoxious, she needs you more than ever. Yet it's the very time when she's pulling away from you.
Why do teenage and preteen girls so often reject their parents and turn to their girlfriends insteadeven when those friends often treat them so cruelly?
Every girl I know has been hurt by her girlfriends. One day your daughter comes to school and her friends suddenly decide she no longer belongs. Or she's teased mercilessly for wearing the wrong outfit or having the wrong friend. Maybe she's branded with a reputation she can't shake. Or trapped, feeling she has to conform to what her friends expect from her so she won't be kicked out of the group. No matter what they do to her, she still feels that her friends know her best and want what is best for her. In comparison, she believes that you, previously a reliable source of information, don't have a clue. For parents, being rejected by your daughter is an excruciating experience. Especially when you're immediately replaced by a group of girls with all the tact, sense of fairness, and social graces of a pack of marauding hyenas.
Whatever you feel as your daughter goes through this process, you can be sure that she'll go through her share of humiliating experiences and constant insecuritythat's normal for teens. Most people believe a girl's task is to get through it, grow up, and put those experiences behind her. But your daughter's relationships with other girls have much deeper and farther-reaching implications beyond her turbulent teen years.
Your daughter's friendships with other girls are a double-edged swordthey're key to surviving adolescence, yet they can be the biggest threat to her survival as well. The friendships with the girls in her clique are a template for many relationships she'll have as an adult. Many girls will make it through their teen years precisely because they have the support and care of a few good friends. These are the friendships where a girl truly feels unconditionally accepted and understoodand they can last into adulthood and support her search for adult relationships.
On the other hand, girls can be each other's worst enemies. Girls' friendships in adolescence are often intense, confusing, frustrating, and humiliating, the joy and security of "best friends" shattered by devastating breakups and betrayals. Girls' reactions to the ups and downs of these friendships are as intense as they'll later feel in intimate relationships.
These early relationships can propel girls into making dangerous decisions and shape how they mature into young women. But your daughter is too close to it all to realize the good and bad influence of her friends. She needs guidance from you.
This book will examine cliques, reputations, gossiping, rebellion, bullying, crushes, and boyfriends. It will show you how your daughter is conditioned to remain silent when intimidated by more powerful girlsand the lessons she learns from this experience. It will teach you how to recognize which friends will support her and which could lead her toward situations that threaten her emotional health and sometimes even her physical safety. It'll show you how your daughter's place in her social pecking order can affect whether she'll be a perpetrator, bystander, or victim of violence when she's older. This book will also reveal how these dynamics contribute to the disconnection and struggle between the two of you.
Excerpted from Queen Bees & Wannabes by Rosalind Wiseman Copyright© 2002 by Rosalind Wiseman. Excerpted by permission of Three Rivers Press, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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