Can You Handle the ‘Truth’? | The Jewish Exponent

Experts confirm what the majority of people know: Truth comes in a number of forms and reveals itself in myriad ways, and that it’s often relative, depending on the needs and expectations of the seeker.

Now, Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein, based in Long Branch, N.J., and a nationally known positive psychologist — an officially recognized branch of psychology that centers on what’s right with people — examines what truth is as young girls see it, in her new book, titled The Truth: I’m a Girl, I’m Smart and I Know Everything, the first in what is expected to be a series.

The book, which contains a “bit of mystery” because girls love that, noted Holstein, is the fictitious account of a young girl who keeps a secret diary in which she writes about the thoughts, ideas, people and events that shape and forge the truth for her.

In the process, it establishes a forum for discussion with parents and peers.

Through the eyes and feelings of the girl, Holstein comments professionally about truth’s particular impact on females aged 8, 9 and 10 years old — and beyond. It also focuses on its meaning in connection with interaction with the adults in their lives — mothers, grandmothers, fathers, teachers and others.

In the introduction to the book, Holstein, reflecting on her own days as a young girl, wrote: “One day I decided to find a way to combine what I already knew as a girl with the knowledge I have as a classroom teacher, case-study researcher, school psychologist, and a psychologist in private practice, in Long Branch, for nearly 30 years. I had to find a fun way to do this that would really help girls and mothers recognize that what we know growing up is just as important as what we learn later.

“One day the ‘girl’ just appeared. She knew what to say and how to say it. She did a much better job of sharing the truth than I ever could have imagined. So I just let her go for it. I used a child’s voice because children understand things in a special way. In the end, the young girl will become a young woman and will keep the best of herself.”

There are 12 to 15 serious topics embedded in the book that offer young girls and their parents the opportunity to discuss the subjects. Girls throughout the world, explained Holstein, experience similar aspects of growing up, with crushes, family and sibling friction, and being bullied at school just a few of the categories that bewilder children and cause them to feel alone.

And Then There’s the Internet
When the influence of the Internet is thrown into the mix, unavoidable and continual situations for concern arise, leaving parents unsure of how to handle these challenging aspects of a young girl’s life, said Holstein.

Here’s an excerpt from The Truth: “What is wrong with human beings? I had to read The Diary of Anne Frank in Sunday school and again I felt so horrible. She died only a few years older than I am. And she loved life so much. How can it be? … ”

At the back of the book, readers will find 25 discussion questions for youngsters.

Why did Holstein write The Truth? “I wrote it because after having worked on women’s issues for years, I came to the conclusion that women at every stage of life need to find ways to build self-esteem and self-worth.

“Every girl wants a mother who listens and is aware of her behavior, especially during the tween years. Family is fun, and tweens want to feel special in their families. The Truth gives girls 8 to 14 years old the knowledge that they are not alone, while it reminds mothers what it was like to be this age,” explained Holstein.

Among her hopes for the book — which ranks second in parenting tweens book topics on — she said, is to see it in school libraries, adding that “my other dream would be to see it turned into a musical.”

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