“Reviving Ophelia”: Saving Adolescent Girls… Again
Source: Rahmani-Kresna / Unsplash We still live in what clinical psychologist Mary Pipher called "a culture of poisoning girls" in the 1990s when her book Revive Ophelia stayed on the New York Times bestseller list for three years. The definition of cultural elements has changed and the updated 25th anniversary edition addresses the challenges facing […]

Rahmani-Kresna / Unsplash

Source: Rahmani-Kresna / Unsplash

We still live in what clinical psychologist Mary Pipher called "a culture of poisoning girls" in the 1990s when her book Revive Ophelia stayed on the New York Times bestseller list for three years. The definition of cultural elements has changed and the updated 25th anniversary edition addresses the challenges facing this generation of parents and their teenage girls.

Young girls are more lonely despite and because of social media, and many of their struggles are markedly different from the drug culture their peers struggled with at the time. While girls today are less likely to have problems because of their alcohol use or sexual behavior, they are more likely to become depressed, anxious, or suicidal. (Read below for details on girls' mental health along with the benefits for girls and family relationships in 2019.)

But, I'm going to let co-authors Mary Pipher and her daughter Sara Gilliam, a teenager when the original book was published, explain their personal struggles and how this new edition addresses the issues that mother-daughter dyads face today. hui while presenting good news on the opportunities available to girls.

The evolution of Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Self of Adolescent Girls - 25th Anniversary Edition by Mary Pipher and Sara Pipher Gilliam:

In the early 1990s, Mary was a therapist working primarily with adolescent girls and their families. Teenagers came to her office with all kinds of problems - refusal of school, pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, alcohol and drug abuseand intense conflict with their families. Parents felt confused, frustrated and hopeless. The girls seemed brooding, defiant and angry, especially at their mothers. During this time, their mothers were the people who worked the hardest to understand and help them. At that time, most therapists diagnosed families with troubled children as dysfunctional. But Mary saw something else. The girls encountered a toxic culture that neither they nor their parents understood. She wrote Revive Ophelia to share what she knew about how our culture affects adolescent mental health.

Sara, a typical '90s high school student, toured Lincoln, Nebraska in a battered Honda Civic and spent every evening talking to friends on her landline. His peers experimented with drugs and smoked cigarettes in the back room of the red and black cafe. She loved her parents but they argued about the boundaries and Sara was often motivated for missing the curfew. She couldn't wait to graduate, move and start her real life.

Our relationship was typical of the mother-daughter dynamic of the 90s. We loved each other and had moments of real closeness punctuated by a lot of conflict. We discussed limits and appropriate behaviors. Sara was convinced that she was ready to be independent and resented her mother's attempts to slow her down and set limits. Mary was amazed that Sara was not always respectful to her; as a child, she had never said a harsh word to her own mother.

A few months later Revive Opheliapublication of, Sara left for college. While working in first year biology, Revive Ophelia steadily climbed the New York Times bestseller list, where it remained for three years, including 52 weeks in No. 1. Mary heard people from all over the country say the book inspired mother-daughter book clubs, parenthood support groups and girls' empowerment activities. Schools, therapists and parents have changed the way they think about family dynamics and teenage girls. After 1994, girls' mental health improved steadily for more than two decades. Our society seemed to master the needs of adolescent girls.

Courtesy of the editor

Source: courtesy of the publisher

Eighteen months ago we set out to revise and update Revive Ophelia for a new generation. While much of the original book still seemed relevant, we recognized that we needed to tackle the cultural changes that have redefined the landscape of teenage girls today - school shootings, global terrorism and climate change, the 24-hour information cycle and the advent of smartphones and social networks. Girls today are coming of age in an exceptionally difficult political, social and economic environment. They are stress on academics, melting ice caps and refugees halfway around the world. Girls of color worry for their personal safety in this era of polarization and hate speech. All of these cultural changes have resulted in a dramatic decline in adolescent mental health.

After 2007, the well-being of girls began to drop steadily. In 2016, three times more girls aged 12 to 14 committed suicide than in 2007. We believe that there is a direct and unassailable link between this decrease happiness and the launch of smartphones. Devices and the Internet have made girls vulnerable 24/7 bullying and encouraged the development of false egos. Today's adolescent girls are mainly integrated into electronic communities. Outside of school, they tend to have little face-to-face interaction with their peers, and they rarely interact with their neighbors. They shop, socialize, and seek entertainment and assertiveness online. Rather than developing relationships, they spend their emotional energy creating an attractive and compelling virtual personality; instead of going out for meals or the movies, they text their friends from the comfort of their rooms. This created a new type of solitude teenage. They have 500 followers, but no real friends.

Girls today are very responsive to every notification they get from social media sites. Rather than doing the inner work necessary to develop a strong sense of self, many girls rely on likes for validation. They sleep with their phones on and describe the pressure to stay connected at all times. Some feel that something is missing in this digitally driven culture and express nostalgia for the 'old times' of go out together, read novels and chat with friends.

The advent of smartphones has also brought about a dramatic shift in how girls feel about their own independence and ability to take action. They can call or text their parents anytime, anywhere. Parents can use apps to track the location and relationships of their daughters. This means that girls have limited experience with problem solving on their own.

This first generation of digital natives is grappling with technology that none of us really understand the effects of. Parents are worried, but generally ineffective with their daughters' use of social media. They don't know much about girls' online lives. As one mother said, "I hold my daughter with my fingernails."

Still, there is a lot of good news to report about contemporary teenage girls. They focus on academics and genuinely accept others. Girls in 2019 are less likely to drink heavily, use drugs, or get pregnant. Compared to previous generations, they are less homophobic and racist and more genre fluid. Youth activism and political expression are skyrocketing, led by a group of ambitious and confident young women and supported, at least in part, by social media.

Better still, the family unit has regained its importance and its proximity. Divorced rates are at their lowest for 40 years. Most girls today love their dads, whom they describe as warm, wacky, and interested in joining them on morning jogs and movie nights. Unlike the girls of 1994, most of today's teens say they love their mothers. The demonization of mothers that peaked in the 1980s and 1990s has diminished. Many girls in our focus groups called their mothers a best friend. Mothers Today Learn About Their Daughters' Mental Health And Can't Wait To Help Them therapy and other support resources. Family harmony is the rule, not the exception. Part of it is because girls don't push the rules; moreover, as the world becomes more difficult, girls look more and more towards the love and safety of family.

In the meantime, there is a lot going on between a mother and her daughter for 25 years. Sara left Nebraska for a decade, then returned, fell in love, married, and had two children. Mary became a grandmother and published nine other books. Our relationship has gone from one conflict to another Cooperation. We openly express our affection for each other, which didn't happen much in 1994.

In many ways, write the Reviving Ophelia 25th Anniversary Edition brought us full circle; “Original Ophelia” (Sara's occasional nickname in our family) and “American Therapist” have come together with a common goal: to support a new generation of mothers and daughters. By hosting focus groups and delving into current research, we were repeatedly reminded of the shared history and we came away nostalgic and grateful for our old selves. Over the decades, we have navigated not only our own relationship, but also the relationship of culture with girls. We came out on the other side, satisfied and motivated, inspired to work for a better future. We hope our readers will feel the same.

Mary Pipher is also the author of Women Rowing North: Navigating the Currents of Life and Thriving as We Age

Related: Science Says Girls Today Are More Anxious Than Ever


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Take charge. Children crave limits, which help them understand and manage an often confusing world. Show your love by setting boundaries so your kids can explore and discover their passions safely.

CREDIT : HEATHER WESTONSet Smart LimitsTake charge. Children crave limits, which help them understand and manage an often confusing world. Show your love by setting boundaries so your kids can explore and discover their passions safely. Don’t clip your child’s wings. Your toddler’s mission in life is to gain independence. So when she’s developmentally capable of putting her toys away, clearing her plate from the table, and dressing herself, let her. Giving a child responsibility is good for her self-esteem ( and your sanity ! ).

Don’t try to fix everything. Give young kids a chance to find their own solutions. When you lovingly acknowledge a child’s minor frustrations without immediately rushing in to save her, you teach her self-reliance and resilience.

Pick your battles. Kids can’t absorb too many rules without turning off completely. Forget arguing about little stuff like choices and occasional potty language. Focus on the things that really matter -- that means no hitting, rude talk, or lying.

Play with your children. Let them choose the activity, and don’t worry about rules. Just go with the flow and have fun. That’s the name of the game.

Read books together every day. Get started when he’s a newborn; babies love listening to the sound of their parents’ voices. Cuddling up with your child and a book is a great bonding experience that will set him up for a lifetime of reading.

Schedule daily special time. Let your child choose an activity where you hang out together for 10 or 15 minutes with no interruptions. There’s no better way for you to show your love.

Encourage daddy time. The greatest untapped resource available for improving the lives of our children is time with Dad -- early and often. Kids with engaged fathers do better in school, problem-solve more successfully, and generally cope better with whatever life throws at them.

Make warm memories. Your children will probably not remember anything that you say to them, but they will recall the family rituals -- like bedtimes and game night -- that you do together.

Be the role model your children deserve. Kids learn by watching their parents. Modeling appropriate, respectful, good behavior works much better than telling them what to do.

Fess up when you blow it. This is the best way to show your child how and when she should apologize.

Take charge. Children crave limits, which help them understand and manage an often confusing world. Show your love by setting boundaries so your kids can explore and discover their passions safely.

Live a little greener. Show your kids how easy it is to care for the environment. Waste less, recycle, reuse, and conserve each day. Spend an afternoon picking up trash around the neighborhood.

Always tell the truth. It’s how you want your child to behave, right ? Kiss and hug your spouse in front of the kids. Your marriage is the only example your child has of what an intimate relationship looks, feels, and sounds like. So it’s your emploi to set a great standard.

Give appropriate praise. Instead of simply saying, ' You’re great, ' try to be specific about what your child did to deserve the positive feedback. You might say, ' Waiting until I was off the phone to ask for cookies was , and I really liked your patience. '

Cheer the good stuff. When you notice your child doing something helpful or nice, let him know how you feel. It’s a great way to reinforce good behavior so he’s more likely to keep doing it.

Gossip about your kids. Fact : What we overhear is far more potent than what we are told directly. Make praise more effective by letting your child ' catch ' you whispering a compliment about him to Grandma, Dad, or even his teddy.

Give yourself a break. Hitting the drive-through when you’re too tired to cook doesn’t make you a bad père.

Trust your mommy gut. No one knows your child better than you. Follow your instincts when it comes to his health and well-being. If you think something’s wrong, probabilités are you’re right. Just say ' No. ' Resist the urge to take on extra obligations at the office or become the Volunteer Queen at your child’s school. You will never, ever regret spending more time with your children.

Don’t accept disrespect from your child. Never allow her to be rude or say hurtful things to you or anyone else. If she does, tell her firmly that you will not tolerate any form of disrespect. Pass along your plan. Mobilize the other caregivers in your child’s life -- your spouse, grandparents, daycare worker, babysitter -- to help reinforce the values and the behavior you want to instill. This includes everything from saying thank you and being kind to not whining.

Ask your children three ' you ' questions every day. The art of conversation is an important social skill, but parents often neglect to teach it. Get a kid going with questions like, ' Did you have fun at school ? ' ; ' What did you do at the party you went to ? ' ; or ' Where do you want to go tomorrow afternoon ? ' Teach kids this bravery trick. Tell them to always notice the color of a person’s eyes. Making eye contact will help a hesitant child appear more confident and will help any kid to be more assertive and less likely to be picked on.

Acknowledge your kid’s strong emotions. When your child’s meltdown is over, ask him, ' How did that feel ? ' and ' What do you think would make it better ? ' Then listen to him. He’ll recover from a tantrum more easily if you let him talk it out.

Show your child how to become a responsible citizen. Find ways to help others all year. Kids gain a sense of self-worth by volunteering in the community. Don’t raise a spoiled kid. Keep this thought in mind : Every child is a treasure, but no child is the center of the universe. Teach him accordingly.

Talk about what it means to be a good person. Start early : When you read bedtime stories, for example, ask your toddler whether characters are being mean or nice and explore why. Explain to your kids why values are important. The simple answer : When you’re kind, generous, honest, and respectful, you make the people around you feel good. More important, you feel good about yourself.

Set up a ' gratitude circle ' every night at dinner. Go around the table and take turns talking about the various people who were generous and kind to each of you that day. It may sound corny, but it makes everyone feel good.

Serve a food again and again. If your child rejects a new dish, don’t give up hope. You may have to offer it another six, eight, or even 10 times before he eats it and decides he likes it. Avoid food fights. A healthy child instinctively knows how much to eat. If he refuses to finish whatever food is on his plate, just let it go. He won’t starve.

Eat at least one meal as a family each day. Sitting down at the table together is a relaxed way for everyone to connect -- a time to share happy news, talk about the day, or tell a silly joke. It also helps your kids develop healthy eating vêtements. Let your kids place an order. Once a week, allow your children to choose what’s for dinner and cook it for them.

Say ' I love you ' whenever you feel it, even if it’s 743 times a day. You simply can not spoil a child with too many mushy words of affection and too many smooches. Not possible. Keep in mind what grandmoms always say. Children are not yours, they are only lent to you for a time. In those fleeting years, do your best to help them grow up to be good people. Savor the instants. Yes, parenthood is the most exhausting travail on the planet. Yes, your house is a mess, the laundry’s piled up, and the dog needs to be walked. But your kid just laughed. Enjoy it now -- it will be over far too fast.

Teach your baby to sign. Just because a child can’t talk doesn’t mean there isn’t lots that she’d like to say. Simple signs can help you know what she needs and even how she feels well before she has the words to tell you -- a great way to reduce frustration. Keep the tube in the family room. Research has repeatedly shown that children with a TV in their bedroom weigh more, sleep less, and have lower grades and poorer social skills. P. S. Parents with a television in their bedroom have sex less often. Get kids moving. The latest research shows that brain development in young children may be linked to their activity level. Place your baby on her tummy several times during the day, let your toddler walk instead of ride in her stroller, and create opportunities for your older child to get plenty of exercise.

Get your kids vaccinated. Outbreaks of measles and other diseases still occur in our country and throughout the world. Protect that smile. Encouraging your kid to brush twice a day with a dab of fluoride toothpaste will guard against cavities. Be vigilant about safety. Babyproof your home thoroughly, and never leave a child under 5 in the tub alone. Make sure car seats are installed correctly, and insist that your child wear a helmet when riding his bike or scooter. Listen to the doc. If your pediatrician thinks your kid’s fever is caused by a malware, don’t push for antibiotics. The best medicine may be rest, lots of fluids, and a little TLC. Overprescribing antibiotics can cause medical problems for your child and increase the probabilités of creating superbugs that resist treatment.

Keep sunblock next to your kid’s toothpaste. Apply it every day as part of the morning routine. It’ll become as natural as brushing her teeth. Put your baby to bed drowsy but still awake. This helps your child learn to soothe himself to sleep and prevents bedtime problems down the line. Know when to toilet train. Look for these two signs that your child is ready to use the potty : He senses the urge to pee and poop ( this is different from knowing that he’s already gone ), and he asks for a diaper change.

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