Telling the Truth
A Review of The Truth (I’m a girl I’m smart and I know everything)
Review by: Sandra Prince-Embury, Ph.D.
Author: The Resiliency Scales for Children and Adolescents
Clinical Psychologist and Family Therapist
The Truth by Barbara Becker Holstein, Ed.D., positive psychologist, is the secret diary of a ten year old girl. Although exquisitely simple in form and expression the words of this unnamed girl suggest insights that are clinically and developmentally significant. Embedded in the journal are messages about childhood that are important for adults to hear, presented in the words of a child. One such message is the importance of communication for children.
The girl telling the Truth identifies and verbalizes her feelings in her own words. In this way she models skills of self awareness and expression. Children and teens often have difficulty putting feelings into words. It is the absence of these skills that result in pent up negative feelings expressed in acts of violence when they have reached the boiling point. In The Truth, the girl believes in herself and her own experience, even when the feelings are not positive. In this way she models self-acceptance.
Part of the girl’s truth is the discovery that parents and other adults have limitations. Parental disillusionment is a normal part of development where the youth realizes that parents are vulnerable and not perfect. For some this process is associated with much anger and acting out behavior, stonewalling parents who “do not have a clue.” The girl handles her awareness in a more positive way by envisioning future times when she will be able to do things differently.
Children should be able to communicate honestly about their own experience to responsible adults, especially parents, even about such taboo topics as feelings of infatuation. Conversely, adults should be more authentic in their communication with their children and sensitive to the impact of their communication or lack thereof. Exposure to conflict between parents often has a negative effect on children that parents do not fully understand. Exposure to parent secrecy or inauthenticity can also result in negative feelings such as “a big giant pit in the bottom of my stomach.” It is these un- processed feelings that form the basis of psychological symptoms.
Dr. Holstein offers the truth as an expression of positive psychology for young girls. The Truth (I’m a girl, I’m smart and I know everything) is unique in that it is spoken in the words of the girl herself to the young reader. She speaks to the reader like a best friend who is confiding her secrets. This intimate communication may be amazingly rare in a world of internet and text messaging where truth may be at risk of exposure and embarrassment. Dr. Holstein has succeeded in expressing the truth in the words of the girl, in a light hearted book that is a quick and easy read.
I’m pleased to present Dr. Prince Embury’s full review for you today. She really tells ‘the truth’ about what is important psychologically in The Truth (I’m a girl, I’m smart and I know everything) If we don’t want a new generation of ‘mean’ girls, or young girls more engrossed with following the lives of starlets than developing their own interests, talents and potential, than we need to help our kids, tweens and teens learn how to safely express their feelings, emotions and thoughts while becoming fine young people, in touch with who they are and what is special and important to them. That’s one of the reasons why I wrote this book, which will soon become a series. We need to look more at development at every stage of growing up. So in the next book the girl will be 12-13. Stay tuned!