Are you asking the right question

When I was growing up and  behaved in ways my mother didn’t like, she would hiss at me “What’s wrong with you?” The shame that question created cut deep (and lasted years). I thought something must be wrong with me if my mother had to ask. But the problem was, my mother (whom I love to pieces by the way!) wasn’t asking the right question. The right question should have been, “What happened to you?”

Behavior is often a result of things that have happened to us. Think about it in your own life. How often is your worst behavior driven due to anger or fear over something someone else has done to you? (I’ll post how adults can overcome these reactions, but for now, I am focusing on our teen girls.)

When our girls have been victimized in some way, whether a put down on Facebook, or sexually assaulted,  they act out. Instead of wondering what is “wrong” with them for acting out, ask “What happened?”

If you have a relationship built on trust with your daughter, she may  tell you what is bothering her. If you have not created a trusting relationship built on true listening skills and answering the Big Brain Question (search my other posts for more info) your daughter may not be willing to tell you what is bothering her. That’s not good for her. She needs an outlet to share her emotional angst, preferably with an adult and not just her Facebook friends or Twitter followers.

For the record, it is my (humble) opinion that many of our teen girls who are sent to rehab are NOT being well served. The focus is what is “wrong” with them, as opposed to what has happened to them. There are very few teen girls who have an inherent organic mental illness or syndrome that needs medication or being sent away. More can be done with listening and love, fresh air, exercise and a “safe tribe” that answers your daughter’s big brain question with a “Yes!”

If you want to know more about the sad state of affairs in the psychiatric world, please read this article and one of the books.

If you want to know about the illness I have been fighting and why I am more passionate than ever to help our teen girls avoid being sent away or medicated, please visit It won’t take long to figure out that no one asked me “what happened?” and helped me work through my past wounds. Instead they focused on what was “wrong” with me: I was anxious!

Ask the right question. Please. And create a loving, trusting relationship with your daughter so she feels safe enough to tell you who she really is, and what really happened to her. You may be saving her from years of turmoil.

To listening!