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Parent Trap: What Heroines Teach Us

The stories of fictional characters like Moana and Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz can help your daughter reframe her adolescent challenges as a normal part of her journey. The journey of a heroine is a narrative pattern found in many of the most well-known fairy tales and stories of all time. Every adolescent girl must embark on this journey to discover new depths of courage, strength, hope and resolve within herself that she can draw upon to overcome the challenges of growing up. Your daughter is no different.

Great story characters like Moana, Katniss from The Hunger Games and Rey from Star Wars all find themselves thrust into the hero’s/heroine’s journey. It begins with a call to adventure. Heroines usually meet a mentor who guides and encourages them on their quest. Mentors like Moana’s grandmother and Glinda the Good Witch all saw the potential of the hero characters before they could see it in themselves. That’s the beauty of a good mentor.

After embarking on the journey, the heroine will undoubtedly face uncertainty, become afraid, and begin to doubt her ability to carry out her quest. Fictional young heroines must confront their deepest fears and face a series of dangerous encounters in order to gain the strength and resources to face the adult world. To achieve growth, Moana must sail out to sea, Frodo must leave the comforts of the Shire, and Dorothy must leave Kansas.

I love the character Rey from the latest Star Wars movies. She goes from a lost child who simply wants her parents back to a Jedi and one of the leaders of the Resistance. She transcends a childhood filled with hardship and loneliness and, most importantly, reframes her beliefs that she has no place she belongs by embracing her strengths. She progressively owns her power and also creates a family she can rely on. Your daughter must also go through this journey of self-discovery to prepare herself for adulthood. 

Like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, girls must pull back the curtain of their limiting beliefs and look inward to find their power and resources. Your daughter must learn to get quiet to find her own truth and strength. She must learn to stop giving away her power just as Dorothy learned to hold onto her ruby slippers. Girls must be aware that they can realize their own heart’s desire.

Fairy tales and fictional stories are a great vehicle to understand your own trials and tribulations. Girls’ feelings of discontent, restlessness, emptiness, uncertainty, anxiety and despair can be normalized in the context of the heroine’s journey. Like these heroines, your daughter can learn to master her emotions, face her fears, overcome challenges, and ultimately find and embrace the parts of herself that yearn to be expressed.

Tim Jordan, M.D., is a behavioral pediatrician who works with girls in grade school through college. Check out his new online course, Parenting girls: The challenges girls face today with their feelings and friends and what they need, at drtimjordan.com.

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