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Is This Normal?

Is This Normal?A new book by a Tufts mother-daughter team sheds light on the unique struggles of adolescents.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [10.23.02] For many teenage girls, talking to their mothers about their problems is anything but easy. But a Tufts mother-daughter team has found a way to use their close interactions to help others strengthen theirs. In their new book, Tufts freshman Laura Potash Fruitman and her mother - Tufts graduate Marlin S. Potash - have teamed up to shed light on the particular questions and struggles of adolescence.

"This fun and informative book addresses all sorts of uncertainties, from dating and sex to alcohol and drugs, from feelings of jealousy to fights with family and friends," reported The San Diego Union-Tribune. "Best of all, it includes real-life questions from teen girls, as well as lots of lists, tips and practical advice."

It's information and advice Marlin Potash knows well. A licensed psychologist and therapist, Potash - who graduated magna cum laude from Tufts -- specializes in adolescence, sexuality and gender issues, as well as work and relationship concerns. Her daughter, Laura, is currently a freshman at Tufts.

Entitled Am I weird or Is this normal?, the book - also co-written by former love and relationship columnist for YM Magazine Lisa Sussman -- is targeted for a wide audience of teenagers and their parents.

"Am I weird or Is this normal? is for every girl who experiences the occasional freak-out over her body, her feelings or her relationships," reported the Tribune.

It's a common occurrence, says the Tufts graduate.

"When girls hit puberty, their self-esteem plummets," Potash told The San Francisco Chronicle. "The changes that happen to their bodies (coincide with) societal pressures that value a certain kind of woman. These girls wind up in a mathematical nightmare. They want to be themselves, but they want to fit in. Girls who at age 7 or 8 were playing touch football are suddenly saying 'I don't want to be aggressive' and 'I don't know.'"

The mother-daughter team incorporated many of their own experiences into the book, which is published by Simon & Schuster.

In an interview with CBS TV's "The Early Show" this summer, Potash and Fruitman talked about ways to reduce separation anxiety many teenagers and their parents feel when its time to leave for college.

"In order to help Fruitman adjust easily to college, Potash designed her daughter's summer in Boston this summer," reported CBS News. "She started her new life a little early and did a mini trial run. She's up there for the summer clerking for a judge, so she has a job which she's proud of and she learns to commute and how to deal with her own banking and where the kids hang out. It is a practice session before attending college full-time."

The Tufts freshman also had ideas about how parents could make the college separation easier.

"Tell them to go out and have fun and not to think about you at home," Fruitman told The Early Show. "Remind them what they're missing by wasting time on the phone with you, rather than indulge them about what they're missing at home."

Her mother agreed. She admitted that - unlike her and her daughter - sometimes teenagers have difficulty talking about their anxieties.

"If you're a guy, it's a little hard to admit you feel nervous that you're missing your mom," Potash told The Early Show. "It's not just going away to college. It's the realization that going to college is the beginning of going away for life, and that's what makes it so hard. Although, some kids do cry that they're going to have to do their own laundry."


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