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'Girl Wars' Author to Address Mothers

Sometimes parents need a little help from the experts, so a local group, Mothers of Youth (MOY), brings in guest speakers to talk to them. The next one is author Cheryl Dellasega, who'll discuss teen-age bullying and how to stop girls from hurting each other.

MOY is composed of moms from Centreville, Chantilly, Herndon and Oakton, and it presents speakers, four times a year, to audiences ranging from 30-200 people.

"Our goal is to help parents of teens and pre-teens communicate better with them — and actually enjoy them," said Patsy Mangas, one of MOY's founders. "Sometimes, you just get bogged down, and people like this come in and give you insights about what's going on in teen-agers' minds."

DELLASEGA, AUTHOR of "Surviving Ophelia" and "Girl Wars," will help mothers find effective solutions to girls' cruel behaviors. She'll speak Wednesday, Oct. 1, at 10 a.m. in the Sully District Governmental Center at 4900 Stonecroft Blvd., off Route 28 and Westfields Boulevard, in Chantilly. Cost is $10, and a light breakfast will be provided. RSVP by Sept. 26 to MothersofYouth@aol.com.

Dellasega, 49, of Hershey, Pa., is married and the mother of two boys, 18 and 23, and a girl, 19. She's an associate professor in the College of Medicine at Penn State University and a nurse practitioner with experience working with family issues. Her book, "Surviving Ophelia," describes how she and 67 other mothers survived their daughters' adolescences.

"That book prompted my interest into relationships that girls have with each other because they can be very hurtful and friendships ended," she said. "That led me to really start talking to girls and interviewing teachers, therapists, mothers and fathers about girl relationships."

Dellasega zeroed in on solutions and strategies to make things better, and "Girl Wars" contains 12 strategies to help girls develop healthy relationships with each other, from an early age. And if hurtful relationships do develop, she tells how parents can empower their daughters to deal with them or, if necessary, become involved, themselves.

SHE SAID THE problem seems to peak in middle school and can continue on into high school. She advises parents to "really focus on helping their daughters develop [healthy] relationship styles in middle adolescence. Said Dellasega: "If a girl becomes either a victim or a bully, it's something she could continue on in."

And she tells girls that they can change their behavior at any time and learn a better way of behaving that'll stand them in good stead throughout their lives. Said Dellasega: "So many times I hear, 'Well, that's the way girls are.' But it isn't — and they can change."