Friday, November 6, 2009

Anorexia, abuse, fear of rejection-Dangerous secrets girls keep and how to help

"It’s no secret that teen girls have secrets. Most teen girls struggle with some feelings of low confidence, rejection and depression and many will look to unsafe sex, drugs and alcohol for comfort. HCI Books is releasing an advice guide for teen girls (and their parents) written by teen expert and founder of, Carrie Silver-Stock, M.S.W., L.C.S.W.

Secrets Girls Keep: What Girls Hide (& Why) and How to Break the Stress of Silence (Nov 2009) is an honest approach for teenage girls and their parents, looking at the scary issues they face and the secrets they keep with advice on overcoming low self-esteem. Many teen girls contributed to the book that is chock-full of tips. Topics include:

• Feel beautiful without going on a crash diet
• Navigate the ups and downs of dating
• Make and keep good friends
• Deal with school (the social scene and the grades)
• Phone and Internet safety and social media


Anorexia, abuse, sexual activity, fear of rejection…
Dangerous secrets girls keep and how to help

Girls love secrets. In many ways, teen girls are trapped by the cult of secrecy that exists today. It is as part of this cult that so many girls hide their depression, eating disorders, pregnancies, and sexual relationships.

Secrets Girls Keep: What Girls Hide (& Why) and How to Break the Stress of Silence (HCI Books, Nov 2009) by teen expert Carrie Silver-Stock, M.S.W., L.C.S.W., shows teens that when they help share their stories without judgment, they begin to break down the walls and ensure better and safer choices for their futures. Many girls today struggle with feelings of low confidence, loneliness, rejection, and depression and then look to unsafe sex, drugs and alcohol for comfort and answers.

Secrets Girls Keep shares the personal stories of other girls as they share their secrets, showing the reader that she is not alone in her struggles. Each chapter tackles a separate issue that is relevant to teenage girls today along with stories and seven tips they can use to overcome those issues. Silver-Stock helps girls think for themselves, explore their own feelings and gives them ways to open dialogue with parents, teachers and others. Topics include:

• Feel beautiful without going on a crash diet
• Navigate the ups and downs of dating
• Make and keep good friends
• Deal with school (the social scene and the grades)
• Handle funky family stuff
• Phone and Internet safety and social media

Silver-Stock is a mom of two and the founder of She is also the author of the award-winning book, The Powder Box Secrets. She lives in St. Louis , Missouri .

Secrets Girls Keep: What Girls Hide (& Why) and How to Break the Stress of Silence by Carrie Silver-Stock (HCI Books, Nov 2009, ISBN 978-0757313691, $14.95)

For more information visit

Every day the teen girl in your life faces many decisions. Some are as simple as deciding what to wear and how she will blend in with her peers at school. Others may ultimately be choices between life and death. 

Most girls face immense pressure to fit in and to be accepted by the crowd. As a parent standing in the sidelines it is painful and hard to watch. The good news is, whether you have a great relationship with her or not, you can help.

As you read the following tips, keep in mind that many of these suggestions aren’t based on having a deep discussion with the teen in your life. At the same time, if you want to be able to talk with her more, try to find common ground. Don’t just jump into a discussion about her friends. Maybe you both love music, or fashion, or getting outdoors -- start there. Acting first, instead of talking, may lend some relief. For example, suggest going to her favorite restaurant, or joining her as she does something she loves. Just remember,   it is very, very common for parents to have hot and cold relationships with their kids during their teens years – male or female. Regardless of the temperature of the relationship, the following six tips can be utilized.

1)      How does she handle peer pressure now?  
Start by asking yourself these important questions: Can she think for herself? Can she slow herself down enough to think clearly? Can she disagree with her friends and be okay with it? Can she listen to her gut? Answering these questions will help you sort out where you can be of most help.

2) Remember… she’s watching you.
She is never going to tell you she’s watching, but she is. She watches your conversations, reactions, and relationships. Maybe you had a difficult decision to make at work and were the only one who disagreed with the team, but you said so. Let her know and talk about what you did and how it was resolved. Your example will teach her more than you can ever tell her.

3)      Teach her how to think for herself.
Let her have responsibility and be involved in the decision making. It also means she learns to listen to, and follow her gut. Start with simple things like deciding which movie to go to or how to spend her weekends. When she has a tough decision, like choosing between two favorite activities, help her think it through without giving her the answer.

4)      Watch closely for changes in behavior.
Pay close attention to what is going on in her life and who she is hanging out with. If you see any major changes in her behavior - from sleeping, dressing, eating, or how much time she spends at home - these could be signs that she is dealing with a lot of peer pressure or other issues, and needs help.

5)      Be a good listener.
Perhaps the most important tip. The last thing she wants you to do is tell her how to solve her problems. Listen to her and let her know you’re there for her. Try asking open-ended questions that require her to think and answer more than your typical “yes” or “no.  For example: What would be the pros or cons or making that choice? Who would it impact the most? What is your gut telling you to do? If you show her you can listen more than talk, she’ll be sure to come back next time she needs to talk or be listened to. Both are good signs.

6)      Lay Down the Law.
Safety always comes first. It’s not always easy to lay down the law and follow through on consequences. If her peers are negatively impacting her and you are fearful for her, don’t be afraid to set the rules and stick to them.  

Your daughter needs you. The peer pressure teens face daily weigh heavily on their shoulders and can be consuming. Having you on her side will make all the difference.
Carrie Silver-Stock, M.S.W., L.C.S.W. is a mom of two and the founder of Girls with She is also the author of Powder Box Secrets and the forthcoming Secrets Girls Keep (HCI).

Q & A with Carrie Silver-Stock, author of
Secrets Girls Keep:
What Girls Hide (& Why) and How to Break the Stress of Silence

1.      What inspired you to write Secrets Girls Keep?
I wrote Secrets Girls Keep because after working with young people for over 15 years I continued to see girls struggle, much of the same way that I did as a teen girl.  I didn’t feel this was right and I wanted to do something to help teen girls deal with their biggest challenges, from issues with self esteem, to dating, friends, family, etc...  I felt it was really important that we let girls know they aren’t alone and give them an avenue to speak to each other and make sure their voices were heard. 
2.      What secrets are girls keeping?
Girls keep many secrets, from the superficial to very dangerous.  I’m more concerned with the secrets girls keep that potentially put them in harms way.  These are secrets about their  sexuality, teen pregnancy, depression, eating disorders, drug/alcohol use, cutting, and more.   
3.      What is the cult of secrecy and why are girls hiding?
Secrets are a part of our society and even part of growing up between girls.  It’s so often the secrets that cement friendships between girls.  However, there are some secrets that even friends stop sharing.  Girls hide for many reasons.  It might be because they are scared of being less than perfect, they are embarrassed, they are worried about getting in trouble, or they think they are the only ones feeling a certain way.
4.      What do teen girls need in their lives to keep from hiding and feel secure?
If teen girls are going to stop hiding and feel more secure, girls need to know they are not alone.  They also need places they can feel secure (ideally at home, school, and with their friends). We need to start sharing our secrets and stories about what we’ve dealt with and how we’ve overcome it.  Girls need to know it’s okay to make mistakes.  We need to work against ending the fierce negative competition that exists between girls and work towards respect.
5.      How can girls start to break the stress of silence?
Girls can start to break the stress of silence one step at a time.  If they are too scared to talk to anyone about something they are dealing with then they might start by reading stories of other girls.  But, it’s important they look for a trusted adult or friend they can open up too.  If this is still too scary, they might build on that trusted relationship by talking about things that aren’t as scary.
6.      How can parents help their girls do this?
Parents can help girls break the stress of silence in many ways.
-Parents can listen to their daughters, both by what they are saying, and by watching their actions.  It’s important to keep communication lines open as best as possible.  This is a challenge because starting in middle school parents might feel a shift where friends seem to be more important than parents.
-Let your daughter know it’s okay not be perfect.  Our society encourages girls to be ‘good girls’ from an early age.  Of course we want our children to succeed and do well, but I believe we put too much emphasis on being perfect and sometimes this creates too much pressure.  If girls know it’s okay to goof up, they might be more willing to talk about their mistakes.    
-Watch for signs of change in your daughter.  This could be a change in friends, sleeping habits, or eating habits.  If there is something different, this can be a clue you need to pay more attention.  If you think your daughter is having a problem and she denies it, but your gut is still telling you differently, don’t ignore that feeling.  Watch her closely.  She might be too scared to tell you everything that is going on.  
-If you find out your daughter is having a serious challenge, don’t feel like you both have to handle this on your own.  Don’t be afraid to get professional help.
7.      The concept of self-esteem eludes many teen girls. How can they find it?
Finding and developing self esteem is a lifelong process.  It starts at a young age and it’s important to keep building on.  I look at self esteem holistically.  How does she feel about her beauty, friends, relationships, family, school, academics, etc… She might excel in one area and feel bad in another.
Look for areas your teen excels, focus on her strengths in both in school and out of school activities.  Encourage her to try new things and give her the support to make this positive.  Talk about the messages she sees in mainstream media from magazines, TV shows, pop stars, to music videos.  It’s hard to feel good about yourself when we compare ourselves to impossible models. 
Help your teen daughter find ways to give back and contribute.  When girls get involved with the community or give back to others, it helps everyone.  When she can find a way to give back that she completely connects with and is passionate about, I think the results will surprise you.  The community has been improved, but it also can give your daughter a sense of accomplishment, contribution, and even confidence! 
8.      What is the most important thing for girls to know about dating violence?
Recognize dating violence can happen to anyone!  So many girls think “this will never happen to me”. 
Girls need to know the signs of a violent relationship.  It might show up as boyfriends who are overly jealous or controlling, boys who limit time around friends, boys who use verbal and emotional violence, boys who use of alot of guilt trips, if a boy threatens to hurt you physically, if there is a history of violence, or if he has been violent towards animals.
If the girl in the relationship is losing her confidence, feeling scared, worried about saying the wrong thing, or changing her actions to avoid fighting
If a girl notices one of her friends stops spending time with her, changes her clothing or makeup, loses her self confidence, is have trouble at school, stops participating in usual activities, or starts using or increase alcohol/drug use, these could be signs her friend is in a dangerous relationship.
National Teen Abuse Helpline 866-331-9474

9.      How can schools help prevent dating violence?
Administrators should raise awareness about dating violence and start a dialogue with teachers, staff, students, and parents.
Schools shouldn’t tolerate dating violence.  They need to have strict guidelines and policies, work closely with their local law enforcement, and keep people accountable.  If you are a student or parent and don’t feel your school is doing enough, ask them to do more. 
Schools might consider special activities or programs like dedicating a week to dating violence prevention. 
10.  How can parents compete with what our girls are learning from celebrities like Rihanna and Lindsay Lohan?
It’s hard for parents to compete with Rihanna and other celebs when it comes to teaching our girls.  But I will say, girls do look to their parents.  They might not look like they listen to you, but they watch your actions and words and learn.  In many ways you are one of their most important role models even though most girls probably won’t tell you that.  There are also positive role models out there like Taylor Swift and Miley Cyrus.  Keep conversations going about the role models your daughter looks up to from celebs, favorite relatives, and her best friends.     
11.  Tell us about your organization, Girls With Dreams.
When I started Girls With Dreams it was important for me to really listen to teens and to give teen girls what they need to find their own way.  Girls With Dreams wants every girl to grow up feeling like she can have a profound impact on the world.  We want to give teens the resources to deal with the tough, every day stuff that comes their way, so they can pursue their dreams and their passions.  Our mission is simple: girls empower each other to make a positive impact in the world.  
12.  What is 1 of your 7 Secret Tips for girls to live a better life? 
Find Your Strengths and Use Them.  Girls need to find something about themselves to believe in. Teens are great at feeling insecure and not sure of themselves, so I believe it’s important to focus on finding strengths.   It’s easy to just focus on what we’re good at in school.  But I would encourage girls to continue looking for all ways they excel from the basketball court to debating to singing in the choir.  When we are able to use and build off of our personal strengths I believe it helps all of those around you. 
13.  What is your biggest piece of advice for parents of girls?
Don’t give up!  Your daughter needs you.  I know sometimes being a parent of a teen can feel like walking through the carnival’s crazy house and your not sure what the next surprise might be or even what mood your daughter will show up in.  Do whatever it takes to continue to build positive deposits in your relationship and keep communication lines open.
14.  You are a mom to two boys. Why such an interest in teen girls?
Yes, I have two young boys who I adore.  I feel it’s important we pay attention to both the issues of boys as well as girls, but I found that I could really relate to girls not only because I experienced what it was like, but I witnessed first hand what girls dealt with when I worked with them professionally.
15.  What type of teenager were you?
I was a good student, I had friends, a good family, but I was a secret keeper and that almost cost me my life.  I had problems with depression, thoughts of suicide, self esteem and body image.  I also had signs of an eating disorder.  The problem was I hid these problems very well from my parents and my friends. 
16.  How can our audience get your book and what is your website?
People can purchase Secrets Girls Keep anywhere books are sold.  I have 3 websites. is our community for teen girls, is our fan club for the book, and is a resource for parents of teens, teachers and professionals, and media.
17.  Do you have anything to add?
I hope we will do everything we can as a society to listen to and empower our young women.  Our future rests in the hands of our daughters and sons.  If you are a parent or teen who is struggling, don’t feel like you need to do this alone.  Reach out to your friends or professionals for help.

For more information, visit &

About Carrie Silver-Stock, author of Secrets Girls Keep
Carrie Silver-Stock, M.S.W., L.C.S.W., received her masters in social work from Washington University in 1999, and a BA in sociology and World Perspectives from Principia College.

Silver-Stock founded Girls With Dreams to create a global movement where girls discover their power, passion and dreams. The mission is simple: girls will empower each other to build their best lives while learning how to take action and make a positive impact. Silver-Stock is passionate about inspiring teen girls to help them find their own way. As a former radio talk show host, speaker, social worker and life coach, she has advocated for young people for more than 15 years.

Silver-Stock has collaborated with and presented workshops for the Girl Scouts of America, St. Luke’s Hospital, and many schools and colleges. She contributes to The Glow Project magazine and has published articles in many media outlets. Silver-Stock is a founding member of the Billionaire Girls Club, a group igniting women to create billions in impact for global good, and served as an advisory board member for the Go the Distance Project.

Her first book, The Powder Box Secrets, won several awards, including the prestigious Benjamin Franklin Award. Health Communications, Inc. will release Silver-Stock’s newest book, Secrets Girls Keep: What Girls Hide (& Why) and How to Break the Stress of Silence, in November 2009.

Silver-Stock loves staying active and spending time with her husband, two boys, and two dogs in St. Louis, Missouri. When she’s not encouraging teen girls to be comfortable in their own skin, she enjoys walking, boating, water-skiing, exercising and hanging out anywhere near a beach."

For further information, please visit &

I had been looking forward to reviewing the book Secrets Girls Keep: What Girls Hide (&Why) and How to Break the Stress of Silence by Carrie Silver-Stock. At first I thought that this was a book for parents, but it is actually written to be read by teenagers and relates to their point of view. Though parents and teachers may use this book as a reference tool and Moms may read along with their daughters. I really like the message this book brings across- for girls to open up and be their most confident selves. This book is fun to read, and has quizzes and inspirational quotes along the way. The book is set up to be fun and engaging, not boring.

The Bottom Line: This book is a wonderful tool for teen girls, teachers and parents! Your teen girl will learn some great tips, gain useful knowledge and learn how to be their best self with this book. Seal of Approval!

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