My friends know that I am borderline obsessed with developmental psychology, especially as it relates to parenting boys and child development in a fallen world. This is a brief reflection from Melissa Trevathan and Sissy Goff’s book, “Raising Girls, All You Need To Know About.”
Re: 12-15 Year Old Girls’ Brain Development
Believe it or not, there are spiritual, emotional, and even physical reasons for these changes. God is still growing your daughter—even though, at times, it seems like someone much more diabolical has taken over. (p. 70)
Specifically for girls (but also for boys), around puberty “the connections [synapses] in her brain grow as fast in these 12-15 years as they did in infancy.” (p. 71) The habits formed in these pubescent years will have a lifelong wiring effect on their brains.
In this narcissistic stage for girls (narcissism is characterized by a focus on what other people think, while being unaware of others’ feelings) their brain is literally carving out neural pathways of relating to other people that will stick around. Don’t fret. Read some helpful books, pray, and continue the conversation with your daughter (more to come re: reaching out as caregivers… I haven’t finished yet!).
Regarding boys, this age is the “wandering” stage for boys. Thomas and James counsel parents to pray, eat some chocolate, and have a sense of humor. Especially while these neural pathways are creating ever-deepening grooves of behavior patterns, parents need to (at least) have a plan for internet access, accountability, and have discussions about hormones/sex/pornography. Again, do not fear. But habits are real, so at least give it some thought.