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Annie Fox, M.Ed., is an internationally respected parenting expert, award-winning author, and a trusted online adviser for tweens and teens.

Podcast: Good Girl vs. Real Girl

November 9, 2009

The Curse of the Good Girl by Rachel Simmons

The Curse of the Good Girl by Rachel Simmons

If you live or work with teen girls you don’t need me to tell you they can be way out there with their emotions. And you already know that girl friendships can be fraught with drama, misunderstandings, betrayals and recriminations. Which proves that being emotional doesn’t automatically translate into high Emotional Intelligence. (EQ, AKA getting real with yourself so you can be real with the people you’re close to. )

When teen girl emotion explodes around parents, they often do what moms and dads of my parents’ generation did… try to contain and sanitize the feelings. Why? Perhaps some parents sincerely believe that people who are too emotional get clobbered by life. Another possibility is that when confronted with a girl’s outburst that parents can’t “fix” the next best solution is to try to shut it down as quickly as possible. Either way the message is that some emotions are just not the “good girl” kind.

If a girl expresses sadness she may hear: “Cheer up. It can’t be all that bad!”

If she expresses fear she might get: “There’s nothing to be afraid of!”

If she rages over some real or imagined  injustice she may be treated to some variation of this 20th century chestnut: “Better watch it, young lady. You’re getting a little too big for your britches.”

When I was a child, the most powerful phrase I knew was “Shut up!” Only used in a rare moment of frustration and laughably tame by today’s standards, those words were consistent show stoppers in my family and always followed by: “That language is unacceptable.” I realize now that it was my assertiveness that was truly unacceptable.

21st century parental messages to girls haven’t changed all the much: Don’t be sad. Don’t be scared. Don’t be angry. Oh, and while you’re at it: Don’t be shy. Don’t be worried. Don’t be embarrassed. Don’t be so silly. Don’t be so dramatic. Don’t be so smart.

If girls can’t be any of those things, what, in heaven’s name, are they supposed to be? Duh! They’re supposed to be GOOD! At all times sweet, loving and cooperative. Modest, supportive, nurturing, generous and nice. But what are girls expected to do when any of those other not so good and not so nice feelings pop up? No problem. If you want to be a good girl (Yes, please!) you learn to stuff it and smile.

In this week’s podcast I talk with Rachel Simmons, author of The Curse of the Good Girl: Raising Authentic Girls with Courage and Confidence. And what a terrific and important book it is. Here’s an excerpt:


To deepen your vision for your daughter, write her a letter (you don’t have to send it) and explore these questions:

  1. What do you wish you had known when you were her age? Think about the girl you used to be and the woman you are today. Focus on what you have learned about relationships, conflict, and self-confidence.
  2. What does being yourself mean to you?
  3. What did the female role models of your childhood teach you? If you did not have any, what do you wish you might have learned from a caring adult woman?

You have learned many lessons in your life. By defining them for yourself, you can begin thinking about how to convey practical wisdom to your daughter, in both what you say and how you act.


Listen to my interview with Rachel Simmons right here:

If you have iTunes, you can subscribe to this podcast in the iTunes Store.

Or, you can download an MP3 version here.

Upcoming guests include:

Rosalind Wiseman, author of Queen Bees & Wanna Bees and Queen Bee Moms & Kingpin Dads

Izzy Rose, author of The Package Deal: My (not-so) Glamorous Transition from Single Gal to Instant Mom

Diane E. Levin, co-author (with Jean Kilbourne) of So Sexy So Soon: The New Sexualized Childhood And What Parents Can Do to Protect Their Kids

Susan M. Heim, author of It’s Twins! and Chicken Soup for the Soul Twins and More

Hannah Friedman, author of Everything Sucks: Losing My Mind and Finding Myself in a High School Quest for Cool

Dara Chadwick, author of You’d Be So Pretty If…

*What’s a podcast? “A podcast is a series of digital media files, usually either digital audio or video, that is made available for download via web syndication.” –Wikipedia… So, in this case, there’s an audio file for you to listen to (in addition to reading the above).



  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jennifer Louden, Annie Fox. Annie Fox said: #Parenting Just posted new podcast. Gr8 interview w/@racheljsimmons author:The Curse of The Good Girl. Listen here! […]

    Pingback by Tweets that mention Podcast: Good Girl vs. Real Girl | Annie Fox's Blog -- — November 9, 2009 @ 8:04 pm

  2. […] that as parents we do not need to be perfect but we need to progress. Head over to Annie’s blog where she has an excerpt from the book, containing some questions that mothers need to ask […]

    Pingback by Parenting Podcasts - Perfectionism | Planning With Kids — November 19, 2009 @ 6:26 pm

  3. […] you want to support your teenager daughter I suggest you jump over to Annie’s Blog and listen to the recording. VN:F [1.7.5_995]Speak up and rate it!please wait…Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)VN:F […]

    Pingback by Good Girl vs. Real Girl : Gen Y Guide Sarah Newton — December 28, 2009 @ 2:41 am

  4. […] Fox’s podcast with Rachel Simmons, whose most recent book is The Curse of the Good Girl (here’s Simmons’s […]

    Pingback by Clicks & cliques: *Really* meaty advice for parents on cyberbullying | — July 23, 2010 @ 12:45 pm

  5. The good girl rules never go away. Most of them are lies. I wrote about the good girls rules in the life of an older woman. Hint: She becomes a grandmother in the story but still struggles to overcome those rules. Thanks for attacking this subject. It is important for women of all ages.

    Comment by Delinda — May 9, 2012 @ 9:07 am

  6. Sad but true, Delinda. At one point I realized that I while I was always going to be sensitive to the feelings of others, I was no longer going to stuff myself into a nicely wrapped box (feelings, opinions and all) just to get people to think I was “nice.” Nice is highly over-rated. I’d much rather be authentic… empathetic, yes. Caring… of course. But real. Always real with myself and others.

    Comment by Annie — May 9, 2012 @ 11:30 am

  7. […] pleasure of interviewing Rachel Simmons the Wise for my podcast series. We talked about her book The Curse of the Good Girl: Raising Authentic Girls with Courage and Confidence. We also discussed how often parents engage in meta-conversations with their children (i.e., parent […]

    Pingback by Mom, why are you being such a B#$@%?! | Annie Fox's Blog — December 4, 2013 @ 10:20 am

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