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MelindaB

Reading Maketh a Full Man...

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Currently reading

The Discarded Image: An Introduction to Medieval and Renaissance Literature (Canto)
C.S. Lewis
Boys and Girls Learn Differently!: A Guide for Teachers and Parents
Michael Gurian, Terry Trueman, Patricia Henley
Ambition and Survival: Becoming a Poet
Christian Wiman
Deep River: The Life and Music of Robert Shaw
Keith C. Burris
Daring, Trusting Spirit
John De Gruchy
The Vatican Diaries: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Power, Personalities, and Politics at the Heart of the Catholic Church
John Thavis
The Whisperers: Private Life in Stalin's Russia
Orlando Figes

Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls

Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls - Mary Pipher This book is highly recommended in "How to Talk to your Child about Sex" by the Eyre's, which I have read and reviewed ( http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/81152970 ), so I have queued it up for reading. *************************************This book is a good companion book to read with "Packaging Girlhood", see http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/78740867 for my goodreads review."Packaging Girlhood" shows you what goes on behind the media and marketing that pushes girls (from toddler to college age) unwittingly towards stereotypical diva / boy crazy / shopper personnas. "Reviving Ophelia" puts real faces on the girls who have been objectified and demeaned into these stereotypes, and who live with the pain and horror that it can involve. The author provides case study after case study from her own patients who have dealt with issues ranging from eating disorders to rape. It is again not a happy book to read, but I feel a very worthwhile book to read. Girls are growing up in an increasingly toxic environment. The pressures of perfect body image and "fitting in" socially turn fairly well adjusted elementary school girls into depressed and withdrawn middle schoolers and then bitter suicidal high schoolers. Just as girls are going through puberty and significant body changes, the schools become torture chambers of taunting and humiliation. Mary Pipher provides an interesting "this is the way it was" snapshot of life when she was growing up and contrasts it very effectively with the life of girls she counsels now. It isn't the way it used to be, and it is getting worse. To provide solid evidence of what she discusses, the author provides case studies from her practice as well as interviews with various girls who did not need counseling. She deals extensively with body image and how young girls, without the maturity or support to know what to do, turn to bulimia (binge / purge eating), anorexia (extreme weight loss through dieting and/ or excessive physical activity), drugs, or alcohol for solutions.Interestingly enough, some of the solutions the author has to help young girls through their growing up years include:1) Parents, DON'T DIVORCE, stay married if you can because an intact family is better for children of all ages. In the chapter on divorce, the author says that in the beginning of her practice in the 1970's she believed that children were better off with a happy single parent rather than unhappy married parents. However after 20 years of practice as a therapist, she has changed her mind. She realized that in many families the children may not notice if their parents are unhappy or happy. Yet a divorce shatters children, and very often does not make parents any happier and frequently makes women poorer and children more vulnerable.2) Be present and part of your daughter's life. Parents need to be parents and not abdicate decision making to their daughter. One interview the author had with a well adjusted teen girl showed that the mother was not working outside the home, but was present and engaged in all aspects of her daughter's life. 3) Establish structure in your home, establish rules and limits, follow through with consequences when rules are broken. Girls make wiser decisions and are more stable when their home life has these elements in them. Learn when to be flexible and when to stand firm. Too much firmness is actually better for the girls than too much leniency. One case study the author references was a situation where parents chose to let their daughter decide very early on what she wanted to do without much interference or guidance from them. They wanted her to be free to make decisions. What they did not realize was that being overly permissive did not help their daughter make GOOD decisions. She needed more guidance and firmer boundaries. In trying to teach her to be free and independent, they had actually contributed to her being overwhelmed and depressed. She needed for them to be the responsible adults and guide her, so she could grow up into a responsible adult.The 2001 edition of the book I read had a reader's guide at the end with some good questions to think about and answer. There was also an interview with Mary Pipher 10 years after the book had been published. One question in the interview that I thought was particularly good was "If you could offer one or two pieces of advice to girls, their parents and teachers, what are the best things they can do to weather the storm of adolescence?" Mary Pipher's answer is revealing and I quote it completely. She answers, "First of all, be very intentional about media. Don't watch a lot of TV, be cautious about the kind of music and movies you consume, read good books as opposed to teen magazines. Be careful about your intellectual diet. If you have an intellectual diet of junk food, you have a brain full of junk. I would advise people that this is a serious life decision -- deciding what to consume, in terms of information and culture.Another thing that's very important is that teenagers not be isolated from other age groups. The biggest and best change we could make in America overnight would be to have a whole bunch of seventy-year-olds rehearsing with middle school bands, helping kids learn to read, teaching children how to garden and fish, and so on. Likewise, it's important for teenagers to be involved with little kids, and with people in their twenties, who can look back on when they were that age and offer them some decent advice on how to make choices. I really argue for a lot more mixing of the generations than we have now.Finally, I think it's really important for parents to insist that their kids be plugged into family. Adolescents should go to family reunions, eat at family meals, and have regular contact with grandparents and cousins and extended family members. Parents shouldn't let kids make all of their own choices about how they spend their time. Essentially, kids are told three thousand times a day by advertisements to spend their time shopping and consuming. Unless parents teach kids that there are other ways to spend their time, how will children even know that they have other interests?"In reading these suggestions, I was happy to see that families who homeschool are taking her advice to heart. Homeschoolers I know evaluate TV, music, and movies that come into their homes and strive to teach discernment over blind consumption. They as a rule read more books, and place a high value on a vigorous intellectual diet. Homeschoolers I know also mix multiple generations together. Seventy-year-olds ARE teaching middle schoolers. Teens ARE around little kids. Homeschoolers I know ARE teaching their kids other ways to spend their time and learning other interests.So while the overall book is very sober, I think there is great reason to be encouraged. Mary Pipher insists that the only way to change the toxic culture young girls are facing is to change the culture. I think homeschooling parents are hearing what she has said, and are responding.