Underestimated with Guest Chelsey Goodan • ep. 092

Meet Chelsey Goodan

 Note: This book was written about teen girls and is geared toward them and their parents. While our interview doesn’t discuss anything sensitive in detail, tween listeners should keep that in mind. 

I am eager to welcome our special guest author and teen mentor Chelsey Goodan. Thank you so much for joining us!

 CHELSEY: Thank you. It’s my joy to be here. 

 Well, let’s start out by having you briefly share a bit about you and what you do and are known for, because we’re gonna get into your book in a second.

CHELSEY:  Yeah, so I just wrote the book, “Underestimated: The Wisdom and Power of Teenage Girls,” and I wrote it because I have been an academic tutor for 16 years, and then also volunteered my time to mentor girls from underrepresented communities. Over that 16 years, I have realized how incredible, how smart, and how much girls’ voices need to be heard in this world. They have amazing ideas and solutions to ways to solve the world’s problems, and people do not take them seriously enough. The book is largely informed by the girls themselves, their stories, their quotes. A lot of it is about me being their microphone, their portal for what they wanna say to the world. And, the book is very good for a parent of a girl in order to better understand and connect with their daughter. And most girls look at the book and are like, “Whoa, you totally get me!” You know? And so it’s been great for them to hand it off to their parent and be like, “Better understand me!”

Teen Girls are Smarter than People Think

It is loaded, loaded with helpful insight. I wondered what was the catalyst that moved you to write this book? 

CHELSEY: It had to do with that special one-on-one time with a girl where she would say something and it was just so wise. I used the word wisdom right in my title. I would ask girls, what if you could tell adults and parents, something that you wish that they better understood about you, what would it be? And the number one answer is, “We’re we’re smarter than you think we are.” You know, and they just, they feel so misunderstood, right? People, um, brush them off and dismiss them as emotional and dramatic and crazy, and that it’s just not the truth. Actually, their beautiful feelings have a ton of value. And instead of squashing and fearing and judging and shaming teenage girls, I was like, I need to write a book that actually lifts them up in a way that we can all see their power. Over a hundred girls were involved in the making of this book. I’ve spent thousands of hours working with girls. I would go to them constantly. I’d be working on a chapter and be like, “Wait, actually, do I have this right?” I had them give edits on chapters, give feedback. So I was always making sure I was always grounded in what girls wanted to tell the world.

 I think that is really important. It’s not just like, oh, you know, I’ve watched a few things and here’s what I think they meant. You are literally taking their words, their feelings, their experiences, and showing them, showing the girls, showing parents showing the world, this is how things are.

Mean Girls?

CHELSEY:  You know what people often say to me is, “Oh teenage girls, really? They’re so mean.” People love to just dismiss them as mean girls. And I’m like, girls are not innately mean. They didn’t come out of the womb mean, you know? And that actually has not been my experience. Girls are incredibly compassionate and thoughtful. The truth is when, when they’re mean, they’re honestly just responding to an environment that’s not safe. We have not created a very safe world for them, which makes sense considering people are stereotyping them as mean. You would probably respond in a negative way if everyone was stereotyping you that way. But I’ve also seen a huge shift in Gen Z and the girls today, they are so much more about girls supporting girls, women supporting women, and have so much more attunement to mental health issues and psychology. How can we have more compassion for a girl who may be struggling and therefore might be a little meaner or having a hard time or lashing out because she’s struggling in a world that isn’t particularly friendly for her. And it’s a world built on judgment and shame. There’s so much judgment and shame on teenage girls and they’re just over it and that’s why they close down and put up walls, and it makes sense. When we start taking away those layers, they are an underestimated force for good, for positive good in the world. But we have just put all these shackles on them in so many ways with the things they should be doing or should look like or should act, you know? And it just holds them back, 

These labels that we’ve just slapped on them just like automatically without giving them a chance to show us who they are or who they want to be.

Topics for Teens

I want to inform parents and girls listening that they may consider some of the topics and language in this book not for a tween audience. Per the title, this book is called, “The Wisdom and Power of Teenage Girls.” You cover a ton of topics in this book: perfectionism, sexuality, people pleasing, identity, friends, self-doubt, the media, beauty, shame, and power. Do you think that some parents will be surprised by certain things they read about in this book?

CHELSEY: Yeah, certainly the Sexuality chapter, I think you’re insinuating is a little more grown up. But at the same time, my experience has been that sex education conversations with your daughter need to happen earlier. They already have been inundated with messages from places that might not be super smart, whether it’s the media or their friends that don’t know that as much, and so on. There’s something to be said about that chapter about for a parent to read it and take what speaks to them, what might feel more right for them. But it’s certainly trying to uncover topics that we haven’t talked about enough.

Also shame. People do not understand the catastrophic impact that shame has on girls, and then how we take those wounds and carry them into adulthood as women as well. A lot of the book is about healing your own inner teenager too, because so many of our wounds started during our teenage years. So a lot of adults who read it are often surprised that they’re doing their own self work and reflection as they work through the book. 

Start Conversations

 And I really appreciate the expanse of topics that you covered. A lot of them, I think some parents maybe have thought about it and just didn’t know how to talk about it. Sometimes we avoid having conversations, but the thing is, you don’t need to have a perfect understanding of something to start approaching conversations with your kids. You’re just opening doors and then that helps them know that you care enough to include them and you care about their perspective. Instead of just telling them, you want to know how they feel too. 

CHELSEY:  Exactly. Parents so often come into a conversation with their daughter with an agenda, like a secret agenda inside their brain. They don’t mean to, they are like, “Oh I need her to think this or believe this,” and it comes from a good place of intentions of wanting to protect their daughter or care for their daughter. But teenage girls will sniff that out and close off because they want just a real open receptivity of meeting her where she’s at, wherever she’s at, with no judgment, just curiosity. That’s where those types of conversations you’re talking about really start, where it’s not like the parent has everything figured out and they know what’s best for their daughter. That tends to not open up the conversation. If anything, inviting the girl’s voice in it is exactly a huge solution of my book. I’m constantly asking girls, “Well, what do you think the solution is? How would you like to handle it? What feels good to you? What are your thoughts on that?” I’m constantly checking in with her. Lots of times when parents ask specific advice, almost always my response is, “”Well, have you asked her yet? Have you asked her what she thinks about it?” And they’re always like, “Wait, no, I haven’t.” And I’m like, “I bet she has great thoughts on this. Ask her.” It’s giving respect and it’s also trusting her and teaching her to trust herself that maybe her ideas and thoughts are good thoughts also.

The Transformation

 One thing I really appreciated you included in the book is an appendix with a list of questions and comments that parents can use to expand their conversations with their teen girls. So after parents read this book and recognize the reality of their teen girls experience, what do you hope changes with their relationship because of it? 

CHELSEY: I have learned just like all human beings, teenage girls wanna feel seen and heard, understood, valued, and celebrated. That is what they want, just like every human being. And so I give these practical tools. Like the Compliments chapter is actually a real surprising chapter for people because I get really specific on how to affirm your daughter in a way that she actually feels seen, where she’s like, “Oh, okay, you get me.” Not just kind of generalizations of like, “You’re amazing! You’re working so hard! We’re so proud of you!” Those kind of just brush off. When you get really specific, you get really thorough, there’s certain techniques on helping a person really feel seen. And then when she likes how she sees herself through your eyes, she also likes you more. It also helps her start connecting to her own authenticity, like what makes her unique. Rather than kind of more general mainstream compliments, like the girl power and you’re amazing type of vibe. I often actually say, how do we lean into our weirdness? I use the word weird, and I know people often get scared of that, but I embrace weirdness. I like it because unique isn’t always good enough, unique triggers something else in someone’s brain. But weird, like, what makes you weird? And then when you start finding that for yourself, that’s a portal into what makes you unique. And then you start affirming that, whether it’s a parent affirming a daughter, or you just affirming it in yourself and pursuing those interests. And that is when you get really connected to your authenticity, just feels your most whole self. And so I bring all that up because when there’s specificity, you feel way more seen.

Accept Her

 So much of the guidance that you give in this book is really about can you show your daughter that you accept her. You’re not trying to work against her, you’re not trying to change her. That you just accept her.

CHELSEY:  Exactly. And it’s real subtle, lots of parents are real focused on achievement and productivity and ’cause it’s “what’s gonna help their daughter.” But what she’s hearing is just a ton of pressure to be perfect, to be likable, to succeed, to have perfect grades. And that unless that happens, she’s not good enough. It’s poking at our, our human condition of us always feeling maybe not good enough in some way or another. So as much as you might communicate how much you love your daughter and you feel like you say it, that you love her the way she is, it’s real subtle. That’s what I try to lean into. Lots of times I’m straight up saying, “You have nothing to prove to me. I already think you’re amazing. You have nothing to prove. What if you get a C on that paper? It’s okay. I know you’re smart.” And they’re always like, “Wait, really?” Some have gotten emotional when I say that, they feel like it’s a radical statement. Because I really mean it.

How Girls Can Drop a Hint

 I am so glad that you’ve been able to find a way to communicate this for both parents and for teen girls. I feel like this book can also help teen girls feel seen and understood and know they’re not alone in their struggles. There’s lots of other girls that feel very similar or the same as they do, and they can feel empowered by the insight from both other girls’ stories and also the perspectives that you offer. I’m wondering if some teen girls want their parents to better understand what’s going on with them, how would you suggest they approach their parents by using this book? 

CHELSEY:  I think  that if a parent gets a book recommendation from their teenage daughter, they’re gonna be like, “Wait, really? Oh my gosh. You’re telling me these are the secrets? I’m gonna take this and run with it!” I have a lot of teenage girls who are gifting it to their mom. There’s actually a whole plan to do it for Mother’s Day, there’s a lot of fun behind that because girls feel like, “Oh, cool, you deal with this. I’m not the problem.” That’s also another thing, so often we approach teen girls like we need to fix them or advise them. No, let’s accept them for exactly how they are and then hand off some instructions and some help and support to their parents or the adults in their lives. Honestly, I think if you just get it as a gift for your parent for their birthday or whatever, they’re gonna be down for it. I have had a lot of luck with a mom and daughter reading it together, which is kind of fun. I actually didn’t expect how well that was gonna go and it’s gone so well. Because that opens up conversations, like it’s a natural easy entry point. “What’d you think about that chapter on People Pleasing? Oh yeah, I say sorry all the time too, I struggle with that.” And you can bond over some of the topics and connect in a new way because you have something to talk about. Girls are so busy, I never wanna put something else on their plate during the school year. But at the same time, I’m telling you that you’re gonna see a real payoff with your parents communicating with you better.

I think that a lot of girls would really appreciate knowing that their parent cares enough to take interest in their life and their experience. And parents, if your daughter approaches you with that, take it and do not pass that up. That is a very vulnerable thing to reach out to someone and be like, “I want you to see me. I want you to accept me.” In any relationship, that’s a vulnerable thing to do. And for a teen girl to do that or to even just communicate, “Hey, I heard about this book. I think you might wanna check it out, I’d love to hear what you think about that.” I think as a parent, that is like a key communication to grab onto and take that opportunity. 

Less Evaluating, More Listening

CHELSEY: A hundred percent. And I’ll say to the parent then too, to not look at it and evaluate the book or judge it. I’m not actually saying that ’cause it’s my book. I mean, when a girl comes to you with something like that, maybe it’s my book or maybe it’s like even a TV show or something. Parents should just focus on what is positive and interesting about it. Because what happens is when a parent comes back and is like, “Well, I liked this part, but I didn’t like this part.” A girl shuts down and is like, “Oh cool. I tried to share something with you, but you just wanted to evaluate it.” And it’s more about that meeting you where you’re at and being like, “Well, I liked this. What do you think?”

 I really do think that this book can be incredible conversations starters, and I say that plural because it’s not just about having one talk and then like, “Oh okay, we’re good.” Continuing to show your teen girl that you are still interested, you continually care, you are invested, you value her opinion, what’s going on in her life–I think that that can, this book can, really help keep those conversations rolling. Again, I’m so grateful that you were able to use the collective wisdom of experiences of the girls that you work with, and also just your own perspective and insight. It is an incredibly fresh and needed message that needs to get out there.

CHELSEY:  Aw, thank you so much.

Chelsey’s Book + Resources

 So before we wrap up, could you please share where people can find your book and connect with you?

CHELESY: Yes–Instagram is definitely the easiest. I’m just @ChelseyGoodan on Instagram. I love having people DM me, especially girls or like anyone who’s reading the book. Always feel free to reach out that way. And my website, ChelseyGoodan.com. I’m gonna be on a book tour for most of March so you can see book tour details. Iwill be in LA and New York and Denver and Seattle. I’d love to meet you at a book tour stop. So that’s really the main hub of info. I do speaking engagements too, so there’s info about that. And I’m actually on TikTok, which I don’t always say because it’s not always a girl audience, but I’ve been on there and I’m still finding my way, but I love it. And I would love to connect, so please follow me. I can’t wait to hear feedback on the book. 

Fantastic. Again, Chelsey Goodan and her book is, “Underestimated: The Wisdom and Power of Teenage Girls.” Go check it out. Chelsea, it has been a pleasure talking with you. Thank you so much for not only writing this book, but also coming on the podcast and sharing about it with our audience of parents and teen girls. Thank you so much.

CHELSEY: Thank you for everything you do to help girls. You’re inspiring. Thank you.

yes, please!

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