For the past two decades I've been focused on learning about strong women as I've worked to raise two daughters. My bookshelves are packed with books about women: Reviving Ophelia by Mary Pipher, The Body Project by Joan Jacobs Brumberg, The Purity Myth by Jessica Valenti, Girls & Sex by Peggy Orenstein. I have read dozens of books about girl issues.
I worked hard to teach my daughters how to navigate our patriarchal culture - and while neither of them emerged unscathed - I'm pleased to watch the women I raised function with strength and independence as they create productive and fulfilling lives many hundreds of miles away from me.
The boys with whom they shared all those AP classes and debate trophies are not doing so great. Too many of my daughters' brightest classmates dropped out of college. My friends' sons struggle in their college classes, too, often preferring to live at home working minimum wage jobs. Or just playing video games late into the night.
Writing being a lonely pursuit, I have substituted the time I devoted to parenting by training to be a small claims court mediator. Every week I work with men who are struggling with basic life skills, and bad situations of their own making. I want to figure out how to help them more effectively.
So my new psychology reading goal is learning about men. Yes, white male privilege exists. Yes, our culture is structured around it. But that doesn't mean that men are not struggling as the world changes. One book that has really highlighted all the issues men face is Invisible Men: Men's Inner Lives And The Consequence Of Silence by Michael Addis.
I have recognized every man in my life in the pages of this 250 page book, and it's changed the way I relate to men, allowing me to see beyond their privilege to their often painful struggles. I cannot wait to add what I've learned to my writing, too.
I am also sending each of my daughters a copy of the book. Part of raising strong women is teaching them how to understand and empathize with men. Like my late mother-in-law liked to say, "We're all in this human condition together."