Reviving Ophelia, by Mary Pipher, was written in 1993 and published in 1994. The author references her childhood from 1963 and compares the two. My middle school years fell smack dab in the middle of that time frame, so it was interesting to sit with the differences and then compare them with our current time period, almost 20 years later (OK, are you confused about what time period we are in now?). It is a whole new world, with a lot of the same issues, but they start earlier, hit these girls harder and are exasperated by the media ten fold.
Mary Pipher is a psychiatrist that references the stories of a lot of the girls that she worked with. Those stories would ring true in any generation with some minor changes. A theme throughout seemed to be hitting the “dreaded teen years” and distancing themselves from their parents (at the time they need them most). These girls are hungry for connection, but also for autonomy. They want to make their own choices, but some have never been allowed to make a choice in their whole life. How do they do it now??? As I said before, outward appearances are not an indication of the storm inside even if they are projecting that storm outward. We have to keep at them. Not by judging or controlling them, but listening to them, connecting with them, in any way that we can. Without some help, the loss of wholeness, self-confidence and self-direction can last well into adulthood (and beyond.. look around you – or in the mirror).
Many of us women struggle with the same issues that overwhelmed us as teens. Fitting in, conforming to some societal standard (as women, as parents, as members of the community). What about the women who are not struggling because they have forgotten that they have selves worth defending? They externalize and try to keep up with the Jones’. They have forgotten to ask themselves the question “Who am I?”, or better yet “Who do I want to be?” They think that wherever they are, that is where they are stuck. Women often know how everyone in their family thinks and feels but if you asked them how they felt, they would draw a blank. I think raising teen girls starts with women healing those parts of ourself that we have left behind. Putting the pieces back together so that we are whole. Sometimes it is a journey which coincides with our daughters (and we wonder why we all can’t get along). Their journey seems to bring us back into the space that we would rather not remember. I have always said that there is a synergy between teen girls and Mom’s feeling that push to do something different. I think that they remind us of what we have lost. Then we don’t want them to lose it. Then we want ours back. But oh wait, how do we do that?? Are you twirling in circles yet?
It all starts with our connection to ourselves, then extends out into our connection with others. I am not talking about superficial connections here. I am talking about connections of the heart. Connections where we are not afraid of looking in the mirror, or showing our true selves to others. Where our opinion of ourself matters more than anyone else’s opinion of us, and if we are not happy with something, we take the steps to change it (and I am not talking about a trip to the plastic surgeon here ladies). Let’s talk about what really matters. I love working with groups. Groups of teens, groups of women and Mother/Daughter groups. Anyone interested in putting a group together, give me a call. Let’s get to the Heart of the Matter!