Surviving Ophelia: Mothers Share Their Wisdom In Navigating The Tumultuous Teenage Years

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9780738205083: Surviving Ophelia: Mothers Share Their Wisdom In Navigating The Tumultuous Teenage Years

Raising a teenage girl can be frightening and overwhelming for the most important female figure in her life: her mother. From handling the often delicate situations surrounding academic performance, athletics, friendships, sexual activity, and drug and alcohol experimentation to instilling (or restoring) a healthy body image and providing a strong role model, mothers often feel alone in their struggle to find ways of coping with all that they must do for their daughters. To provide the community that these women so desperately crave-and all that comes with it: the guidance, the solace, the inspiration, and the hope -Cheryl Dellasega has written Surviving Ophelia, a book of profound wisdom and compassion. Dellasega's own story of raising her teenage daughters is punctuated by the collective experience of hundreds of other mothers, from all walks of life, who have been there or are there, in the trenches, experiencing and chronicling the daily joys and trials of raising their teenage girl. Enlightening, heartfelt, and hopeful, Surviving Ophelia is a must-read for "Ophelia's mother."To find [this book] is like an answer to a prayer. I've had a hard time finding someone who understands what I'm going through, and knows the kind of pain a mother feels when her child is hurting herself."-Jane, Reno, Nevada"This is for all the mothers who sat at coffee break with their peers passing pleasantries while trying to sedate their feelings...[of] anger, rage, disappointment (sadness).... While they share information on Ivy League colleges their children will be attending in the fall, I just pray that my daughter stays alive."-Lori, Detroit, Michigan"The realization stung me as if I'd been slapped hard across my face: I'd been betrayed. My seventeen-year-old daughter Sara had lied to me, and, in needing to believe her, I lied to myself."-Amanda, Albany, New York"It's always assumed you want your kids to walk in your footsteps. For me, it's the last thing I wanted. I raised my girls to be everything I was not: outgoing, brave, bold, and independent."-Sandra, Marblehead, Massachusetts"As the mother of an anorexic, I have spent the past four years reliving the choices I have made in my life, searching to find the cause of my daughter's life-threatening illness."-Carolyn, Amherst, Massachusetts

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Review:

Surviving Ophelia by Cheryl Dellasega, a clinician at Penn State's College of Medicine and a mother of three, provides a community for mothers who, like she, have the often bewildering and unnerving task of raising a teenage girl (an Ophelia) in trouble. By describing her own heartbreaking experience and compiling the stories and poems of hundreds of mothers across the country, Dellasega paints a picture of lost teenage girls and their mothers' fights to save not only their relationships, but often their daughters' lives. The book succeeds because the mothers describe distressing times candidly and openly, not in hushed tones often used when relaying deep family issues.

In response to Mary Pipher's bestselling Reviving Ophelia, these mothers share their thoughts and feelings on a multitude of topics including eating disorders, fitting in, depression, institutions, rebellion and boundaries, the absence or presence of fathers, and the "crazy soup emotions" of love, anger, and frustration. Surviving Ophelia is evidence that each teenager's situation is unparalleled, and Dellasega does not offer any finite solutions to the tumultuous teen years. Instead, the author and mothers provide parenting ideas, from the practical to the radical, and measure their own success and failure. In one letter titled, "Tears from a Rose," mother Rose states, "What I do for a living, what my real name is, and where I live seem irrelevant. What defines me is the hell I've lived through, and what I've learned along the way... I'd like to help other parents avoid some of the traps I fell into and find some of the helpful things I discovered."

The end of this book provides an appendix where mothers can find help for themselves and for their troubled daughters. It also includes letters from some of the mothers' daughters. These Ophelias describe challenges from their own points of view and share how they're feeling currently. --Rhonda Langdon

From the Inside Flap:

Why are the teen years fraught with crisis for so many girls? Why do so many mother-daughter relationships deteriorate drastically at this time? When her own teenage daughter began to spiral out of control, therapist Cheryl Dellasega, Ph.D., launched a nationwide search to find answers-- and hope. In this inspiring, compassionate book, Dellasega shares the strength and the wisdom of mothers who have seen their daughters through the tumult of adolescence.
Drawing on the experiences of scores of mothers and daughters, Dellasega takes a hard look at the lives of girls in crisis--once happy, carefree children who are now struggling with eating disorders, unplanned pregnancies, substance abuse, and severe mental problems. These are stories of girls on the edge, and mothers who are trying everything to save them. Yet even in the most desperate situations, Dellasega hears the same clear message: the key to survival is the support and the understanding of others going through the same thing.
"Surviving Ophelia is a book that provides the community that mothers of troubled teenage girls need more than anything. Powerful and heartfelt, this book captures both the pain and the strength of mothers who are living with the daily challenge of raising teenage daughters today.

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