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Sunday, May 15, 2011

thoughts on: Girls on the Edge

Girls on the Edge: The Four Factors Driving the New Crisis for Girls-Sexual Identity, the Cyberbubble, Obsessions, Environmental ToxinsGirls on the Edge: The Four Factors Driving the New Crisis for Girls-Sexual Identity, the Cyberbubble, Obsessions, Environmental Toxins by Leonard Sax

I rarely read parenting books, but the subtitle on this one caught my eye. I thought I would read it, then, if it was good, suggest it to my husband, because our daughter will be thirteen in a couple weeks. Not only did I give it to him to read, I promptly began recommending it to friends with younger daughters.

The four factors were not ones I have not heard about or considered on my own, but Sax presents them very well, and the extent of some of the issues was truly beyond what I had imagined. I loved the way Sax put each of the first three issues, sexuality, cellphones/internt, and obsessions, into the context of girls developing a strong sense of self, one that is not dependent on how others view them and is multi-faceted. He shows in each of these areas how today's culture is robbing girls of the time they need to figure out whom they are and whom they want to become. The fourth factor, environmental toxins, explores possible causes for the earlier ages American girls are entering puberty, effectively ending their childhoods prematurely.

Sax does not only identify the crises our daughters face. He offers practical advise for minimizing the risks. Some of these are as basic as setting rules about internet usage, and some are quite specific training techniques to minimize the risk of sports injuries. (Girls are more likely to be injured playing sports because most training exercises were developed on men. Their injuries present differently, so they are also less likely to receive prompt treatment for serious injuries.) He also discusses the importance of women of all ages reaching out to teen girls. He stresses the importance of multigenerational relationships between women.

Funniest quote, in the context of the need for girls to make sound, lasting friendships with a few, rather than seek the approval of many: "A Facebook "friend" is not a real friend, any more than Cheez Whiz is real cheese."

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