Book Review, Part II: Raising Girls

Aug 27, 2010

All You Need to Know About…Raising Girls by Melissa Trevathan and Sissy Goff

Book review by Kim Heathcott

The authors of this book give insightful details into the hearts and minds of girls, at the same time educating and enlightening those who are raising these girls about who these girls are and how to help them become who God has created them to be.  The book is presented in three parts. Part one explains the developmental stages and what is typical behavior.  Part two explains more about what goes on in a girl’s heart and mind, looking also at culture and pressures facing her. Part three shows us how we can help to call out her unique identity – a process they refer to as “naming”.

The four stages of development are explaining in the following stages:

  • The Discovery Years        (birth to five)
  • The Adventurous Years    (six to eleven)
  • The Narcissistic Years      (twelve to fifteen)
  • The Autonomous Years    ( sixteen to nineteen)

 What was so helpful about each of these stages is that the authors presented in each stage how they also relate to spiritual development in girls.  What was also very interesting is how relationships, with peers, parents and others, come to be of vital significance to girls.  Girls define themselves by how they connect.  They have passion and purpose and heart that stretches from beyond relationship – but relationship is where it stretches from.  Melissa and Cissy give the issues in relationships by ages, and also what happens when relationships are not formed either through fear, disappointment or anger.  What happens is that girls can deal with these issues through denial, addictions or self-hatred.    The authors give practical help of how to help our girls through these issues as well as point them toward Jesus, who fills our deepest longing for relationship.

 The authors also spend a good amount of time detailing the importance of a girl’s relationship with her mother, father, siblings, grandparents, pets and extended family/other important roles and how all these relationships work together to grow her into more of who God is creating her to be.

Melissa and Cissy also give great practical help on topics including boys, media, drugs and alcohol, cutting/mutilation and eating disorders.  Additionally, they talk about specific ways to enjoy our daughters at every stage and how to “name” them in order to give girls their valued sense of identity. 

The most impactful section to me as a mother was a story in which five adolescent girls were asked to name something their mothers had done that they believe had made a difference in their lives.  All five talked about their mother’s relationship with Christ.  As the authors point out, “these are moms who deeply and imperfectly love their daughters and who, even more importantly, want to listen so that their parenting can be guided by their own dependence on God”.

This book is profoundly helpful in not only understanding our girls, but providing a framework to help us to love and nurture girls in the unique and special relationship that we have with each one of them.