Excerpt: 'The Female Brain'

Cara and Charles didn't know what to do about Leila's bossiness. It didn't end with telling her father how to play dolls. She screamed when her friend Susie painted a yellow clown instead of a blue one as she had ordered, and heaven forbid if a conversation at the dinner table didn't include Leila. Her female brain was demanding that she be part of whatever communication or connection was taking place in her presence. Being left out was more than her girl circuits could bear. To her Stone Age brain - and face it, we're all still cave people inside - being left out could mean death. I explained this to Cara and Charles, and they decided to wait out this phase instead of trying to change Leila's behavior - within reason, of course.

I didn't want to tell Cara and Charles that what Leila was putting them through was nothing. Her hormones were steady, they were at a low point, and her reality was fairly stable. When the hormones turn back on and the juvenile pause comes to an end, Cara and Charles won't have just Leila's bossy brain to deal with. Her risk-taking brain will have the stops pulled out. It will drive her to ignore her parents, entice a mate, leave home, and make something different out of herself. Teen girl reality will explode, and every trait established in the female brain during girlhood - communication, social connection, desire for approval, reading faces for cues as to what to think or feel - will intensify. This is the time when a girl becomes most communicative with her girlfriends and forms tightly knit social groups in order to feel safe and protected. But with this new estrogen-driven reality, aggression also plays a big role. The teen girl brain will make her feel powerful, always right, and blind to consequences. Without that drive, she'll never be able to grow up, but getting through it, especially for the teen girl, isn't easy. As she begins to experience her full "girl power," which includes premenstrual syndrome, sexual competition, and controlling girl groups, her brain states can often make her reality, well, a little hellish.

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