In the age of girl power, we're loath to send a message of surrender to our girls. To the contrary: we've doubled down on giving them permission to speak up and fight for their rights. This is a good thing.
There are many ways to be the odd girl out. Your pain can brief or lasting, visible to all or none, with one or many. One of the longest, quietest ways to be the odd girl out is to be friends with two girls who are closer to each other than to you.
All around me, I see girls forced to become rat racers in the College Application Industrial Complex, the subculture where students must craft themselves into the perfect specimens for college admission and often lose their authenticity, love of learning, and sense of self in the process.
Somebody once told me I treated my smart phone like Wilson, the volleyball Tom Hanks turns into a friend when he's stranded on a desert island in that movie 'Castaway.' It's an apt comparison: parenting a toddler occasionally feels like being marooned, and your phone is your only connection to the rest of the world.
Reacting to every slight or letdown is neither realistic nor fair; it sends the message that we expect the other person to be flawless in relationship. But no one is perfect, and no one relationship can ever meet all our needs.
If you want to stand with me as a single mom - and I know so many of my friends and colleagues do - please don't appropriate my burden as a way to validate your own. To suggest that you are single-parenting when you are simply solo for the weekend devalues what real single mothers do.
Empathy isn't the same thing as expressing emotions. It's not about sharing your feelings - it can be really uncomfortable if a parent cries or loses strength at the moment her daughter needs it most. The message sent is that you need to be taken care of, not the other way around.
When girls can be honest with each other, they can make mistakes on their own terms and discover through experience - and not through knee-jerk adult intervention - what a healthy friendship should look like.
When I went to prom in the early 1990s, I seesawed between my wish to get asked by the right guy and ride in the cool kids' limousine with the burgeoning realization that I was gay. I had a fun night, but I was far from my authentic, assertive self that night. Prom felt mostly like a job I had to do to maintain my position in the social hierarchy.
Most parents would not hesitate to assume responsibility for their child's behavior on a playground, at school, or in someone else's home. What happens online should be no different. Parents should talk with their children about computer ethics, stipulate rules of conduct, and - most importantly - establish consequences.
No matter how much you urge them to relax and how much you mean it, your child probably grapples with highly stressful environments away from home, whether it's where they go to school, the teams they play on, or the peers in their social circle. Most teenagers I know long for empathy from their parents about their struggle.
If smart phones had been around for women in the 1950s, 'The Feminine Mystique' might never have been written. The depression and ennui of housewives would have been blunted by Pinterest and Facebook.
Social media forces girls to bear witness to painful realities of relationship that were previously hidden from view. It is a new kind of TMI, or 'too much information': publicly posted photographs of an outing or party you did not attend, or a personal web page like Formspring, can send a girl into paroxysms of anxiety and grief.
A healthy friendship is one where you share your true feelings without fearing the end of the relationship. It's also one where you sometimes have to let things that bug you slide. The tough moments will make you wiser about yourself and each other. They will also make you stronger and closer as friends.
Our friends are barometers of our own lives: We look to our BFFs to better understand how we're doing ourselves. Our friends help us make sense of what we have, what we aspire to, and what we truly long for.
There are times in every friendship when you or your friend are too busy to call or are more focused on other relationships. It will hurt, but it's rarely personal. Making it personal usually makes things worse, and being too clingy or demanding can drive a friend even further away. Like people, friendships can get 'overworked' and need to rest.
I was a single mom by choice at 37, and if my love life hadn't quite panned out, most everything else had. I was a classic 'amazing girl' - driven, social, and relentlessly well-rounded - reveling in the fruits of post-Title IX America: an all-metro athlete in high school, Rhodes Scholar at 24, best-selling author by 27.
Self-compassion encourages mindfulness, or noticing your feelings without judgment; self-kindness, or talking to yourself in a soothing way; and common humanity, or thinking about how others might be suffering similarly.
Secrecy is hardly new on Planet Girl: as many an eye-rolling boy will tell you, girls excel at eluding the prying questions of grown ups. And who can blame them? From an early age, young women learn that to be a 'good girl,' they must be nice, avoid conflict, and make friends with everyone.
Failing well is a skill. Letting girls do it gives them critical practice coping with a negative experience. It also gives them the opportunity to develop a kind of confidence and resilience that can only be forged in times of challenge.
Whether you chose a passive-aggressive husband, workaholic wife, or life of single motherhood, we are all officially allowed - and uniquely qualified - to critique our own life experience. Please don't pretend you're living mine.
What teens share online is dwarfed by what they consume. Pre-Internet, you had to hoof it to the grocery store to find a magazine with celebrity bodies - or at least filch your mother's copy from the bathroom. Now the pictures are as endless as they are available.
Classroom teachers can play an active role in instructing children about appropriate conduct online, even where there is no school policy on the issue. By promoting public discussion about their lives on the Internet, teachers and students can work together to share advice and develop 'rules to type by' or similar Internet-minded guidance.
In the so-called age of girl power, we have failed to cut loose our most regressive standards of female success - like pleasing others and looking sexy - and to replace them with something more progressive - like valuing intelligence and hard work.
I realized that I wanted a Rhodes Scholarship, not because I wanted to go to graduate school but because I wanted to win a famous award. Quitting forced me to realize I was on the wrong track and that I had lost touch with who I was and what I cared about.
I come from a family where happiness was seen as an 'extra,' a kind of frill to life - nice to have, but certainly not necessary and by no means paramount. Work was king. Suffering meant you were working hard. It made you worthy.