Teaching girls to agitate over every problem implies that relationships, and people, can bend to our will.
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.
You might be thinking that some people are just naturally good at speaking up, and others just aren't - game over. Not true. Speaking up is a skill that you have to learn like any other, whether it's speaking Spanish or doing calculus or changing a tire.
Girls may love movies about fairytale princes, but their most captivating romance is with their friends.
The Internet has transformed the landscape of children's social lives, moving cliques from lunchrooms and lockers to live chats and online bulletin boards and intensifying their reach and power.
Sometimes comparing can be a good thing: it can inspire us to work harder and reach farther. But for the most part, excessive measuring yourself up against others - especially when it becomes a way to put yourself down - is a colossal waste of time. It's a dead end. It won't make you do anything except feel horrible.
We have to teach girls communication skills.
A girl's social networking profile is a persona she constructs, a photoshopped billboard on the information superhighway. It also offers a salve for the anxiety so many girls feel about relationships, providing the answers to burning social questions like, What do other people think of me? Do people like me? Am I normal? Am I popular? Am I cool?
Many of us endure pain in the service of beauty every single day. We rip off our hair with hot wax, jam our soft skin into modern-day corsets, and burn our scalps with dyes.
If we want to end a culture rampant with harassment, we must listen to the adult women who are speaking out courageously. We must also make room for girls to speak: If we listened, we'd find that many middle schoolers are trying to tell us, 'Me too.'
Parents of all girls must simultaneously explain overt and covert sexism, name it whenever they see it, and teach their daughters to do the same.
To defer to someone else's definition of a life well-lived is a Faustian bargain.
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.
From childhood to adolescence, girls face mixed messages about displaying power and authority.
Despite girls' sparkling resumes - including rates of college enrollment and high school grades that outstrip boys - sexism is a barrier that still leaves girls ambivalent about power. Opening doors has not amounted to ambition to lead for many of them, even those with options, networks, and resources.
If parents shield their children from real feelings, kids falsely imagine their parents are in constant control of themselves - and may try to emulate them.
I've spent years in therapy excavating my endless, often fruitless drive to overachieve. I have learned that being successful hasn't made me happy. It's just made me successful. I even call myself a recovering overachiever.
Taking full advantage of all that college offers can be tough for teens facing a major life transition under pressure to perform. Perhaps we should all lower our expectations and let kids find their way.
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.
Sometimes true girl power means accepting that we are actually vulnerable and even powerless - then figuring out how to adapt and have our needs met in other ways.