After Annie Freeman’s Fabulous Traveling Funeral bombed and I quit reading in the middle of it, I switched over to a non-fiction book I had on my shelf: The Wonder of Girls, by Michael Gurien. This was a fascinating and informative book about the brain function and hormonal make-up of girls.
Did you know that when children are 10-12 years old their brains go through another growth spurt that is comparable to the first year of life? Yeah, that’s why all pre-teens drive you nuts – their brains are overstimulated! And also? It is during this time their frontal lobe is developing, which is their moral center.
This means if you have a child who is under an incredible amount of ongoing stress like abuse, the trauma of these events can “rewire” their brains. This is the time a sexually abused boy, for instance, will most likely be “rewired” as a future pedophile, as an example.
Also, it’s not just fable that girls have a better memory than boys:
The hippocampus is one of many areas of the brain that develops differently in girls and boys. It lies on the ridge along the lower section of each lateral ventricle of the brain. One of its biggest jobs is memory storage. This hippocampus is larger in a girl than in a boy, and just as important, the number and speed of neuron transmissions in it is higher in females….A seven- or eight-year-old girl will tend to be better than the average boy at complex memory functions. For instance, if you tell an eight-year-old boy to do three things – clean up his room, take out the garbage, and wipe the table- and tell the same to an eight-year-old girl, you are more likely to see the girl complete the three tasks with less reminding.
Another aspect I appreciated about the book is its emphasis on the importance of raising children in a three family system. The first family being the mom and/or dad. The second family being the extended family. This includes not only extended family, but also mentors, counselors, and close family friends who are like aunties and uncles. This is especially important when living apart from extended family. The third family consists of institutions like church, day care, and other programs, provided the kids are bonding with people or aspects of the institution, not just attending.
In the process of reading this book I learned so much about myself, too. I don’t remember having discussions with my mother about my hormones or my cycle. I remember her showing me the mechanics of the tampon, but it wasn’t until I was in my twenties that I finally realized I was having a nervous breakdown, like every 28 days or so, and that maybe I should look into this pattern. I hope to be able to guide Ruthie through these hormonal changes.
The Wonder of Girls includes a section on what a girl needs from a mother, what she needs from a father, and how to help girls in crisis. This discusses eating disorders, suicide, cutting, and other areas of concern.
I highly recommend this book to anyone raising girls. Gurien also wrote a book for boys, called The Wonder of Boys, which I can only assume is also full of rich information.
Many thanks to Mommy Needs a Cocktail for sending me this book ages ago!