WPP 013: Dr. Lisa Damour on parenting teenage girls

The greatest gift we can give our teenagers if we can is to be really boring and self-sufficient as parents, to allow them to be the ones whose lives feel a little unsteady and unpredictable and drama-filled. That’s sort of what it means to be a teenager. And so if we can surround them with a pretty stable and boring environment, where we’re meeting our needs in lots of ways that don’t necessarily depend on them, I think that’s a huge gift.
— Dr. Lisa Damour

I had such a useful and fascinating discussion with Dr. Lisa Damour for this episode. Lisa is a clinical psychologist and is the New York Times bestselling author of Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions into Adulthood, and the brand-new Under Pressure: Confronting the Epidemic of Stress and Anxiety in Girls.

I’m very glad to bring you my discussion with Lisa for this episode. One of the questions I hear a lot is “how do I know if something is a grief issue or a normal teenage issue?” I figure, since she’s an expert in teenage girls, who better to help us understand our daughters, and to help us understand what “normal” looks like. And then, when we have a better grasp on what’s normal, we can also better understand when we should potentially be concerned.

Lisa and I talked about a wide range of topics:

  • The seven developmental tasks that teenagers are working on;

  • Parting with childhood, including what this looks like and when to be concerned;

  • Joining a new tribe, including why having 1-2 close friends at this age is actually preferable to having a large circle of friends;

  • Harnessing emotions, including how teenagers’ brains undergo a massive upgrade, beginning with the emotion centers;

  • Why parents need to be strong enough to withstand their teenager pushing away, and why this is complicated by bereavement;

  • Serving as the emotional dumping ground for your teenager; and

  • How stress and anxiety are normal and healthy functions for all people, teenagers included.

I hope you enjoy my discussion with Dr. Lisa Damour.

Links & resources for this episode


Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions into Adulthood

Under Pressure: Confronting the Epidemic of Stress and Anxiety in Girls

When Tragedy and Adolescence Clash, Helping Grieving Teenagers Cope – New York Times

Lisa’s Untangled video series

Lisa’s articles for the New York Times & other outlets

The difference between adults and grown ups - Dr. Lisa Damour at TEDxCLE

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