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Live webchat with Steve Biddulph about Raising Girls, Wednesday 16 January, 9pm to 10pm

(246 Posts)
RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 14-Jan-13 14:08:03

Parenting expert Steve Biddulph is joining us for another webchat on Weds 16 January at 9pm - 10pm. Steve last joined Mumsnet back in 2000 when he talked about his book Love, Laughter and Parenting as well as his worldwide bestseller, Raising Boys.

We're delighted that Steve is returning to talk to us about his latest book, Raising Girls. This was written as a response to the 'sudden and universal deterioration in girls' mental health, starting in primary school and devastating the teen years'. The book is both a call-to-arms for parents and a detailed guide through the five key stages of girlhood to help build strength and connectedness into your daughter from infancy onwards. Join the discussion and you will be entered into a draw to win one of five copies of Steve Biddulph's Raising Girls. 

If you're interested in Steve's latest book, Mumsnet Academy are running a one day seminar with Steve on 26 January in London. Here's more information.
 
Put the date in your diary to join the discussion on Weds 16 at 9pm-10pm and if you're unable to join us then, post a question in advance to this thread.
 

gazzalw Mon 14-Jan-13 15:06:25

Hi Steve

I come from a family of boys so I feel I have at least some insight into boys. However girls are a bit of an unknown quantity to me so would appreciate your help!

DD (7), unlike DS, seems to have this need to conform and do as others do and is strongly influenced by them, whereas we feel that she should grow up to have a mind of her own and to be able to stand her ground. One example is the old mobile phone chestnut. It is difficult to argue one's case with a child who does not yet see that other children may come from families with different core values and for whom material possessions are some type of status symbol (something we don't go in for as a family at all). Should we compromise, stick to our principles or what?

The other issue is girls friendships and the horrors that they seem to experience with the dynamics of these. I knew that by secondary school age there can be real issue of bitchiness twixt girls, revolving around friendship etc.., but had no idea that it's alive and kicking when they are so little. DD doesn't seem to shrug off friendship issues in the same way as DS did at all and it can make her sad and sometimes even anti going to school...How should we be dealing with it to ensure that she sees that certain friendships are not the be-all and the end-all and that if problems arise with one friend or group then she should just go and play with other children?

Thanks

Ashoething Mon 14-Jan-13 15:54:17

Thanks for joining us on mumsnet Steve.

My question is-as a teen I suffered from mh issues due in a large part to my own mothers unhealthy obsession with weight. In her eyes anyone over a size 10 is obesehmm

How do I avoid passing such views on to my daughter given the image obsessed society we live in now? Thanks in advance for answering my question.

Hi Steve. I really enjoyed reading your books a few years ago when my DC's were small - I remember reading "The Secret of Happy Children" especially fondly - I'm sure it would be good to re-visit them again now that my DD is 13 and DS is 11. BTW DD and DS are both pretty happy so thanks for your help !

I know you co-wrote some books with your wife which I thought was good.

However the feminist in me is bridling slightly that a new book on How to Raise Girls (daughters) is written by a man (yourself !) - when most of the readers and the ones doing the raising and many experts in the field of parenting and child development are women.
I feel rather the same watching Saturday Kitchen when the presenter and all the guest chefs are men !
Do you have any thoughts on this ?!

I guess I find it easier to accept your expertise and advice on raising happy children or on raising boys than I do on how to raise my daughter !

Nevertheless I will welcome your new book to see what wisdom it can impart as DD approaches her teen years.

scottishmummy Mon 14-Jan-13 17:13:52

I have misgivings with your books,your research methods and pejorative terms like slammers. why do girls need a gender specific book?this seems like a crude attempt to follow up your boys book,rather than rigorous psychological approaches.

certainly dr Cordelia fine would dispute such assignations of gender traits

bealos Mon 14-Jan-13 18:46:42

I understand you had a lot to give with Raising Boys but how does this make you an expert on raising girls??

betterwhenthesunshines Mon 14-Jan-13 19:43:14

You possibly cover this in your book, but I would be interested in your view of single sex education for girls at secondary level.

I was at single sex until 16 and then mixed so I can see advantages in both, and obviously it depends on your daughter's character, the school etc but overall views?

leopardtrousers Mon 14-Jan-13 22:05:17

Hi Steve
I would value your thoughts on how to help my 10 year old daughter who is close friends with a very confident, compitent and atractive girl who loves being the centre of attention. My daughter describes herself as 'in the background' and has feelings of 'not being as good / good enough'.
We have discussed what she feels she loves and is great at, and I have encouraged her to focus on these things. I have also encouraged her to spend time with other friends.
Any other thoughts?
Many thanks.

msteeth Mon 14-Jan-13 22:31:32

I would normally advocate all-girls schools for secondary and co-ed at primary, but DD1 (year 6) has recently developed a full-blown eating disorder, and it is directly linked not to weight but to anxiety. She is in a small all-girl class. I think that the best secondary school for someone with her issues would have to be a co-ed, mixed-ability environment without much "beauty pageant" stuff going on. In other words, the opposite of the current 'Diamond Model' or 'all-girls is best' thinking. Do you think that would be wise, or is it the case that girls with such issues do fare better also in single-sex environments?

stopsayingmum Mon 14-Jan-13 23:17:20

Hello -

I had a rather rocky relationship with my father - quite a love/hate thing throughout my teenage years. How can I make sure this is not repeated with my husband/daughter?

Thank you,

ONtherunmum Tue 15-Jan-13 02:15:47

Dear Steve,

In your new book you have mentioned 'tend and befriend' pattern in attached DD when mothers were emotionally unavailable.

My DD is 6, and it seems like she is the type 'tend and befriend' instead of standing for herself. When she was two- three y.o. I was emotionally down, now I feel like my daughter is attached to me for that reason.

After reading your book preview, I see myself as 'tend and befriend', now 37, being raised by depressed mother, and all I've done in life is to comfort my mother and make her happy.

Is there a way to reverse this pattern? I want my DD to be free and strong.

I bought your book through Sunday Times presale, but still waiting for it to come and cannot wait for most of the answers.

Thank you

ripsishere Tue 15-Jan-13 02:49:40

Sorry, can't afford to buy your book.
My 11.8 DD is at school in Malaysia. She has a very intense friendship with one particular girl who is herself very nice. Unfortunately, she will not try to extend her friendship circle, so if I is off school for any reason, DD tends to be alone.
She is the only European child in her school, so her appearance makes her stand out. One girl in her class is, according to DD bullying her because she is white. DD wants to punch her in the face. I've so far managed to discourage this.
Another issue is food. Unfortunately, Malay girls seem to be very thin. My DD is pretty much average, probably below for build. She is coming home now with half of her lunch uneaten. I suppose I should be glad she brings the uneaten stuff home. I think an issue is her going to pray with her friend I.
How do I encourage other friendships without her alienating I who, while nice is a bit controlling.
I should mention her Dad is a teacher at the school if that has any bearing on anything. They do have a fantastic relationship both at home and school.

flow4 Tue 15-Jan-13 09:12:00

I see an emerging crisis among teenagers in the UK (and probably the western world as a whole) which I believe arises (at least partly) because we make them socially useless, and 'trap' them in childhood and in school, at precisely the time of their lives when they have most energy...

The result is unhappy, frustrated, angry teenagers - and (as one experienced practitioner once described it to me) "boys act out and girls act in". This is a tendency not a universal rule, of course; but we do see more boys involved in anti-social behaviour and the criminal justice system, and more girls self-harming and developing eating disorders.

I must admit that I do not see a 'sudden and universal deterioration in girls' mental health, starting in primary school and devastating the teen years'. I think this is an ongoing pattern, which could be clearly seen in my own school days (30+ years ago). Social pressures are different then, and there was less focus on 'perfect' body image and more on being a 'good girl'. There has always been, and still is, pressure on girls to conform to expectations, rather than to be themselves.

Yet girls have always been 'allowed' to have mental health problems: when it comes to teenage distress, it seems to me that our society wants to view girls as 'sad', and boys as 'bad'.

One of your central themes in Raising Boys was that boys need fathers. Boys struggle, you argued, when their fathers are not actively and positively involved in their upbringing. I agreed with this, and have seen it happen with my own DS1 and countless other boys. It certainly seems to me that men have withdrawn from raising boys and girls in our society - not totally (of course there are some wonderful, very involved dads), but to a very large extent.

On the other hand, mothers have very definitely not withdrawn from raising their children. We hang on in there, through thick and thin, as these boards show.

So my question is this - if there is a crisis for girls now - is this also due to men's withdrawal from parenting? What do you think fathers offer girls that mothers cannot? Or do you have some other explanation...?

Guard Tue 15-Jan-13 09:27:13

Thank you for coming to Mumsnet and I will look forward to some of the answers to the very interesting questions posed. My question is about sibling rivrally in families of girls. I try to be as fair as possible in supporting (and praising) my 3 DDS but never cease to be amazed how they compete for attention, and the eldest needs to point out how she is a better swimmer/runner/reader etc than her sisters (2 and 5 years younger). Any thoughts on how to determine what is the driving behaviour and how to best manage it ?
Thanks

flow4 Tue 15-Jan-13 09:41:58

My boys do that too, Guard. It particularly infuriates the older one (17) when the younger one (13) does it to him!

timetosmile Tue 15-Jan-13 10:05:16

Hello Steve, thanks for coming onto Mumsnet, and for your previous books which I have enjoyed.

I have a great 9 year old daughter, kind and uproariously witty, sandwiched between two boys. She is, I think, generally content with life and happy 'in her own skin'.....my question is, how do I and her Dad best support her on this course through her preteen and teenage years?

herewegoloubylou Tue 15-Jan-13 10:07:30

What message would you give teenage girls about casual sex/respecting themselves?

I'm thinking along the lines of "Your body is a Temple"...grin

What's a suitable modern-day message?

We went to your "Raising Boys" talk in Croydon years and years ago...our son has turned out really well, so thanks for that. grin thanks (I do mean it.)

Sinople Tue 15-Jan-13 11:21:04

thank you for joining us here, and taking the time to answer our questions. My question relates to young children/girls and their response to major life events such as the arrival of a younger sibling. My now 3 year old has much less attention now that she has a younger sibling. she is now thought of as the big kid - having to more responsibility and expected to act responsibly... all this with less one-to-one attention. i can see how her world has been shaken, but feel that i cant humanly give any more than im giving... although id love to find the time to regain some of those lost quality moments that we used to have. Nothing can be done to change the 2.5 yr gap between children, but i think in hindsight i would have had a longer gap so as to avoid this. Any thoughts would be appreciated smile i look forward to reading your book.

I sympathise as I had a 2.5 yr gap between my two Sinople

Can you leave your youngest with someone else for brief periods and do something nice with DD1, even something small such as sharing a book together ? I do wish I'd done this more often myself - life seems/ is so busy with a baby isn't it ?

A proper question if I may about DD (13) (so you can choose which you prefer to answer !)

DD is doing well and is the light of my life ! - seems generally happy, has friends, doing well at school, lovely sense of humour, kind and thoughtful.
Phew ! So far, so good !

I guess some of her biggest challenges over the next few years will be coping with the stress of working hard at school and coping with all those upcoming exams.
How can I help her to keep a sense of balance about all of this whilst still encouraging her to do her best - as will be important for future life opportunities ?
And how involved should we be as a family in supporting her with her school work ? My family fairly much left it to me as my responsibility when I was her age ! Should I offer more support, or is independence a good thing to encourage ?!

orangepudding Tue 15-Jan-13 12:07:16

Hi Steve,

I have three children. My oldest and youngest are confident happy children. My middle child, an 8 year old girl, is quiet, shy and reserved. She does have friends and will put herself forward for activies. I do find that she is easily over looked as she is quiet and doesn't make a fuss.
Me and my husband worry as we were the same as children, overlooked in favour of the loud children. Being overlooked really affected my husbands school life and knocked his confidence despite the fact he is very bright. He did do well because he was a hard worker but still has confidence issues.
I really worry that DD2 will have her confidence knocked in the same way, how can I help her?

Thanks

mrsshackleton Tue 15-Jan-13 12:13:11

Hello Steve,

Thank you for coming here. My eldest dd is nearly 8 and always has been a very shy child. She is hugely lacking in confidence. For a couple of years now she's been looking in the mirror and telling me she is ugly and fat. She is neither. She also has a tendency to scream that she hates herself if she's told off for anything and that she wants to kill herself (though she's admitted she says this last to make us feel sorry for her). What kind of things can I do to bolster her confidence and help her like herself more?

Thank you.

FBmum Tue 15-Jan-13 14:19:07

Hi Steve - really pleased you're doing this webchat - your raising boys and raising happy children have seen me through many a difficult time!

As a female, I thought raising a daughter would be easier and more intuitive. In fact, I am finding that there are many more emotional clashes and DD (7) seems to know exactly which buttons to push - something my DS (9) has never managed. In fact at the moment, my DD is becoming increasingly aggressive towards me and my husband if things do not go her way and it is as if we have a 17 year old in the house, not a 7 year old.

She is EXTREMELY well behaved and liked at school, but the minute she arrives home, she can flip - it is almost as if the effort of being "good" is just too much! Do you have any advice on how to manage such aggressive mood swings at such a young age and how to coax our 'less angry' daughter back?

damibasiamille Tue 15-Jan-13 14:20:13

Hi Steve! Have you any suggestions how we can help our daughters to avoid being a victim of sexual abuse, or deal with it if it happens?

JamieandtheMagicTorch Tue 15-Jan-13 17:08:01

Can I just butt in here and caution against assuming that the traits you are concerned about in your DDs are because of their gender.

I have 2 boys and they are very different. I think some of the personality traits that we ascribe to gender are just individual differences, and are just as influenced by birth order.

JamieandtheMagicTorch Tue 15-Jan-13 17:30:27

otoh, speaking as a middle-aged woman, but not a parent of girls, it does occur to me that there are definite pressures on today's pre-teens and teens to be sexually attractive/available and academic high achievers. To me it's like gains in expectations for woman have been counter-balanced by losses due to the pornification of culture.

Sorry, no question there, just my musings

flow4 Tue 15-Jan-13 17:37:20

I absolutely agree with you on that Jamie! My youngest boy has a large number of personality 'traits' that I have often thought would have been ascribed to gender, if he had been a girl. In fact my eldest often calls him 'a girl' (by way of insult hmm ) for being kind, thoughtful, creative, successful at school and gentle; and for not liking sports, especially football, or 'rough-and-tumble'.

flow4 Tue 15-Jan-13 17:38:34

And I agree with that too!

JamieandtheMagicTorch Tue 15-Jan-13 17:41:49

yy my DS1 is a "girl" too

Mummyoftheyear Tue 15-Jan-13 19:52:59

How much of an influence do you think that siblings and nursery (the type: Montessori / more 'general') has on a girl's character? Do you think that character is innate or easily influenced by nursery style in particular?

blossomhillontapplease Tue 15-Jan-13 21:50:47

Hello Steve

I have a dd aged 12 and in yr8. She enjoys school and has a good group of friends. DD enjoys many activities during and after school appears happy and confident and is always getting positive comments from teacherssmile. At primary school she was a high achiever with many oddities and sometimes these were not seen favourably by her peers. DD started high school with the intention of keeping up where she had left off as she was excited at having new subjects to sink her teeth into. Initially this went well but for the past 10 - 12 months things have started to dwindle with many remarks about not wanting to grow up and her liking where she is right now. She is quite concerned about getting a job house shocketc when she is older despite much reassurance that she doesnt need to worry quite just yet about things like that. Her reports at school say she is doing v. well but feel she could do better. DD feels that if she does well then her friends may ditch her for the less nerdy type confused.

My question is: How as a parent can I positively encourage her to do her best without making her feel any more pressure given that young people are already unduly worrying about their achievements/futures/friendships at such a young age? Her hormones are raging and is typically very moody.......everything I have attempted has failed so far.

StewieGriffinsMom Tue 15-Jan-13 22:20:32

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Trills Tue 15-Jan-13 22:24:59

Can I just butt in here and caution against assuming that the traits you are concerned about in your DDs are because of their gender.

I agree with Jamie.

Rather than "how to parent boys" and "how to parents girls", why not give advice on "how to parents children who are like X and Y and Z" and "how to parents children who are like A and B and C"?

Although that wouldn't help if a child was like X and A and C.

mummymcphee Tue 15-Jan-13 22:30:44

Hello Steve

With your psychologist hat on can you offer me any advice? My 15 month old DD has no contact with her father at all. Her dad has said that he wants nothing to do with her now or in the future and he will not allow her older half siblings who want to visit to have any contact with her. We live in close proximity to her father as I have found it difficult to sell up.

Do you have any advice for lone parents who are struggling to bring up girls with a strong positive self image but whose fathers have walked away?

Flisspaps Tue 15-Jan-13 22:35:04

I agree with Jamie, Trills and Stewie.

CheeseStrawWars Tue 15-Jan-13 22:38:39

What happened to the Gisela Preuschoff book of the same name which you wrote the foreword to? Do you not now stand by what she wrote?

For what it's worth, I read that book and couldn't believe that anyone - anyone - would seriously suggest that more boy babies are miscarried than girl babies because "subconsciously" women want girls more. Grossly offensive.

Hi Steve

I don't have daughters but do have 4DS's - the oldest two are starting to notice that girls are different.

What advice can you give my DH and I for encouraging them to treat girls with respect as they embark on friendships and teen relationships? How should we explain what 'real' girls are like rather than the fictional image presented in the media? I really want them to be good men and treat the females in their lives with respect.

Of course, I am a real girl but I am aware that they won't associate me with the girls they date grin

<goes off to look at bringing up boys again>

MmeLindor Tue 15-Jan-13 23:39:17

Hello Steve,

In your book, 'Raising Boys' you state

'At the age of four, for reasons nobody quite understands, boys receive a sudden surge of testosterone, doubling their previous levels. At this age, little Jamie may become much more interested in action, heroics, adventures and vigorous play... At five years of age, the testosterone level drops by half, and young Jamie calms down again, just in time for school'

I have often seen this used - both on Mumsnet and on other parenting websites and blogs - to explain why boys are aggressive at age 4 to 5 years.

Despite extensive searching I have yet to find a scientific research paper that supports this theory. Could you please link to the evidence of this.

This research paper Hays 2007 (PDF) asks:

^Are parents and other adults more likely to ignore or even admire boys’ aggression? Are they more likely to encourage boys to defend themselves in conflict with siblings and peers ?
Observations of young children reveal that parents are more likely to tolerate aggression when it is shown by a boy (Martin & Ross, 2005). Girls, as opposed to boys, are more likely to be required to relinquish their claims to an object in dispute (Ross et al. 1990). Perhaps because of such pressures, in conflicts with mothers, siblings and friends, girls are more likely to show submissive behaviour (Dunn & Herrera, 1997). Thus, girls are under considerable pressure to desist from aggression. Such social pressure may force overt aggression underground^

I am concerned that falsely interpreted statement in your book may lead to parents accepting the aggressive behaviour of their sons, to the detriment of their daughters.

It worries me because we are teaching our girls from a young age that the right way to react to aggression is to walk away, and we are teaching our boys that aggressive behaviour is in some way acceptable, and to be expected.

Could you please clarify your statement about this hormone surge. Thank you.

marzipananimal Wed 16-Jan-13 09:24:30

In response to SGM, Trills and Jamie, I don't think writing separate books for raising boys and girls necessarily means that you believe in innate gender differences. Surely no one would dispute that girls and boys face slighlty different challenges and pressures due to the society that we live in?

Question: Could you confirm whether you believe that the need for different tactics in raising boys and girls arises from innate differences between the sexes, or from society's different expectations and pressures on boys and girls?

Bessie123 Wed 16-Jan-13 10:15:53

Hi Steve. I found your book 'the complete secrets of happy children' full of generalisation and found it difficult to relate it to my situation BUT one thing you said stuck with me. My ds is quite 'shy' when he sees people, even people he knows well and wants to cuddle for about 15 minutes before saying hello. He is very small still, only 2, should I be trying to make him say hello first off or shall I keep letting him have the time he takes? I think he is after my attention and is not really shy but does it really hurt at this age?

StewieGriffinsMom Wed 16-Jan-13 12:29:29

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

marzipananimal Wed 16-Jan-13 12:53:51

Ok SGM, I haven't read any of his stuff so wasn't sure where he was coming from, thanks for explaining

AbigailAdams Wed 16-Jan-13 13:19:01

Hi Steve. Can I ask, as someone with male privilege, why you feel it is appropriate to tell feminists that they need a new kind of feminism, one that includes "Aunties"? And the obvious follow on question, what do you understand to be the focus and goals of the current "brand" of feminism?

LurcioLovesFrankie Wed 16-Jan-13 13:34:42

What is your opinion regarding Lise Elliot's contention that insofar as there are measurable gender differences in cognitive and emotional abilities, these tend to have very small d values (difference in means of the two populations divided by standard deviations), and also her claim that the infant and child brain is so plastic that differences measured in adult populations are hugely amplified by gendered treatment during childhood?

ONtherunmum Wed 16-Jan-13 15:06:52

Dear Steve,

in your new book (Sunday Times preview) you mentioned 'tend and befriend' pattern in DD attached to depressed mothers.

What could be done to reverse this unhealthy attachment and socially help DD to stand for her self?

motherofallmuddles Wed 16-Jan-13 15:29:02

Hi Steve

My DD is 9, 10 in March. I'd say a pretty confident child no more or less than the next. Seems happy and content at school and at home.
My concern is that over the last few months she is becoming obsessed with how she looks. Talks non stop about fashion, make up etc etc.
I've tried to moderate this but its getting out of hand.
In particular she love a magazine called Girl Talk which just fills me with despair. She also loves the trashy TV programmes, anything with girls who are obsessed with looks over anything else.
I feel like I want to take a stand and not buy her the magazine or let her watch the trashy TV/ videos but will this make them "the forbidden fruit ?"
How do I explain that there's more to life?
I do think that its OK to look good and care about your appearance. I do wear make up and I do like nice clothes so is she just copying me ?
TBH I am just so worried that while she is obsessing over her looks and how to get her man the boys are off working hard at school.
I feel that we haven't progressed since I was a child and I want more opportunity for her than I ever had.
Hope that all makes sense, have been worrying about this for ages and just so pleased you are coming to Mumsnet at this point
Thank you

I think you'll find in general that the girls work just as hard at school and get at least as good results motherofall smile

dawntigga Wed 16-Jan-13 15:58:03

Just marking my place

blush WillTryToFinishBookByTonightTiggaxx

I have nothing to add to SGM and others' brilliance, and hope that SB will not shy away from these questions.

Paddlinglikehell Wed 16-Jan-13 16:43:08

My dd is 8 and is extremely confident. An only child she has had a lot of adult contact and can 'hold her own' in most conversations.

However, when I am talking to another adult, she can start to join in, she doesn't interrupt as such, but rather joins in, unfortunately this very often come over as a little precocious and a know it all. She is obviously trying hard to take part in the conversation, but it isn't always appropriate and I find I sometimes have to give her a 'look'!

I have tried explaining that when I am talking that it is sometimes just better to listen more and I don't want to knock that confidence and her having a voice, but then again, she needs to understand how it can come across to others.

Any advice?

Chandras Wed 16-Jan-13 17:36:23

I would like to know what do you think are the most important rules a mother has to follow when raising a boy in the absence of a father figure and family to help out.

My son has plenty of very positive male role models, but I would like to know if there is something else of equal importance that I am missing.

Thank you (from the woman who has been giving Raising Boys books to every friend who delivers a baby boy blush)

HelenMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 16-Jan-13 17:55:58

Evening all.

We'd just like to remind everyone about our Live webchat guidelines (see top of thread), particularly no 4, about being civil/polite. Of course, it's fine to ask our webchat guests challenging questions (we wouldn't expect anything less of you lot) but please can you do so respectfully.

Also, we need to pre-warn you that, because this is a lateish-night chat, Steve will be posting from his hotel room, not from MNHQ, so he won't have the usual back-up/typing help/energising biscuit top-ups. Please do bear with us - and him - if it gets busy and/or if Steve experiences any technical hitches.

Mindful of all that, we think we really do need to restrict this webchat to one Q per poster. Please resist the temptation to post a second one if you've asked one already. Thanks so much.

concessionsavailable Wed 16-Jan-13 18:34:06

My MIL gave me a couple of extracts from your new book on Raising Girls, lovingly clipped from the Sunday Times etc
Your advice for giving girls better self esteem includes limiting TV time, checking Internet privacy, welcoming children home, routine and structure, shared meals at a table, playing across generations, one-to-one time, seasonal rituals etc. Clearly I agree with all this but, without wanting to sound rude, it's also pretty obvious too, nothing new, nothing which particularly struck me as particularly applying to girls rather than boys.
Is this because it was an unrepresentative excerpt, or is the advice much the same across genders, when it's all boiled down?

concessionsavailable Wed 16-Jan-13 18:47:11

Just in case MNHQ consider the question impolite, I should have should have added, I already have two of your books so I suppose I was wondering what's new in this one. I found Raising Boys had helpful stuff in for my DD1, who loves being thrown around, held upside down, romping around fields etc etc

caramelwaffle Wed 16-Jan-13 18:54:12

What is your opinion on women, who are mothers (young and old) working for money, outside of their homes?

TunipTheVegedude Wed 16-Jan-13 18:54:40

Hi Steve. I'm a bit surprised by your suggestion that we need a new kind of feminism to encourage aunt-style relationships, when feminism has always supported and encouraged this kind of relationship across the generations. Do you not think it's a bit of a cheek for you, as a man, to pronounce about what feminism should do, when you don't seem awfully well up on what it already does?

Thank you.

MummaBubba123 Wed 16-Jan-13 19:44:08

I feel quite passionately about giving my children a healthy appetite for healthy food - particularly since my husband's parents both died at a very young age of heart-related illnesses and his grandfather had his first heart attack at 46. My husband is now 40. I feel we know so much about healthy eating in this day and age and so I'm right to encourage them to enjoy healthy food. However, there is a lot of Mummy-pressure to 'just give them' some chocolate / crisps / sweets as regular or daily treats. Am I being too strict not to follow suit. Or are my efforts to encourage them to develop a 'taste' for healthy eating going to help? Equally, I don't want to create children who crave or binge on things they are not often given. I let them eat a little cake at birthday parties (but with the thick icing taken off) and take my own popcorn (natural) and substitute it for crisps, etc. offered. I swap evian for Fruit Shoots. Is it wrong to try to give them 'good stuff' when we are a more knowledgeable society in terms of healthy diets?

Jamieandthemagic torch post 17.08

Totally agree.

I have 2 boys 6 & 8 . I've read the Raising Boys book which tbh I've forgotten so must read it again, but possibly speaks volumes!

I'm more inclined to think of birth order as opposed to gender...I was/am not a girly girl & my boys are not typical 'boys'

Is it not too easy just to gender stereotype?

stevebiddulph Wed 16-Jan-13 20:43:10

testing

stevebiddulph Wed 16-Jan-13 20:44:23

test2

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 16-Jan-13 20:59:25

Steve is about to join us, as Helen says, from his hotel room so do bear with us if his internet isn't the fastest. He's ready to go so welcome to Mumsnet, Steve...

stevebiddulph Wed 16-Jan-13 21:00:52

Hello Everyone.
Its great of you to care about this topic and come along to discuss it.
I'd like to talk to you a bit first about how we can proceed. As you can imagine, what happens is I was contacted by Mumsnet to come online for an hour tonight, and be in a forum about my new book Raising Girls.

I came onto the site about half an hour ago, and discovered that there was an avalanche of every imaginable kind of question and discussion. Already over fifty of them! Then an interesting thing happened. My heart began to beat very very fast, and I had to go and lie down and do some slow breathing. This really surprised me, as normally I am a calm and fairly easy going kind of person.

Then I had a bit of a think about what might be the reason. I was pretty sure it was fear. So I thought the best thing was to talk to you about this whole forum idea.

One of the things that I think has happened in recent years, is this idea that there is a right way to do things. In fact - one right way, which should work for everyone. But - really, I don't think this is so.
Different things work in different situations, for different people. And since life is quite hard for most of us at times, we need to get different ideas and try them on. The more different ideas, the better so we have more chance of finding whats right for us.

Now, if you believe in ONE RIGHT WAY, then two things follow.
First is the problem of how to agree. Usually people then start a big argument about what is the right way. I have found that this generally does not lead to a solution. People get more uptight, and less flexible, and everyone stresses out too. This has happened quite a bit in the parenting field.

I will stop for a second, and let you respond to this - just short comments are good - do you know what I am talking about? That we all have to find our own right way. And respect the choices of others.Do you see it differently? In about two minutes, when I know someone is there from a response or two, I will go on…

gazzalw Wed 16-Jan-13 21:04:29

Parenting children causes no end of right way conversations not least with different generations and depending upon how one has been parented oneself. I totally agree though that such an approach is not constructive!

stevebiddulph Wed 16-Jan-13 21:04:34

Is anybody there? Let me know?

stevebiddulph Wed 16-Jan-13 21:05:45

Great Gazzalw I have an idea about your question, which I think was the first. I will come to that in a few minutes.

Cezzy Wed 16-Jan-13 21:06:23

I have 2 Dds and find that each responds differently to situations so certainly it is a case of try and see as what may work with one doesn't necessarily for the other.

stevebiddulph Wed 16-Jan-13 21:06:53

Okay, now the second problem is - if there's a right way, then the natural thing is that there must be people who KNOW that right way, and they are called EXPERTS. And we should do what they tell us.
I think thats a bad idea, dangerous, and also it doesn't fit the facts.
Perhaps in gardening advice, or veterinary help. But not something as complicated and individual and deep as parenting. Nobody could possibly be an expert on you and your child, apart from you, and even then we all struggle. So what would happen if we ditched the idea of experts? How could we proceed? How could we cope?

I'll just pause to write some more, but please comment on this idea if you wish -

Okay. Now you are probably saying -but YOU WROTE A BOOK, or ITS SAYS AT THE TOP OF THE FORUM YOU ARE AN EXPERT.
Now, of course, I didn't say that about myself. I hate those terms, expert, or guru or the like. But I am a family therapist, and should explain how that works. A family gets into a stuck place, and they go and see a therapist all together. So if one of those questions like those asked in the posts above came up, I would want and need to ask lots more questions of you. And get your partners point of view, which would be helpful. And of course talk quite a bit to your child. We might even talk about your family history, other things completely, and try to get the whole picture. We wouldn't ideally do this by typing on a computer. It would be nicer face to face. And it would take several hours. In fact - I would never dream of giving advice without this kind of investtigation first. It would be terribly dangerous - what if the wrong advice was given, and something really important was missed. (a child was anxious or acting up because of sexual abuse, for example). So can you see how it would make me nervous to see fifty questions about important specific real problems? Or a really risky idea if I pretended to be an expert who knew THE ONE RIGHT WAY? If you want to comment, I will pause for a minute or two, and write a bit more about girls which we want to get onto next.

orangepudding Wed 16-Jan-13 21:06:57

As a parent I do look to others for advice but don't follow blindly, I listen and then use what's relevant for my family.

blossomhillontapplease Wed 16-Jan-13 21:08:25

I have had to have this approach to parenting. We get lots of advice on how to deal with situations from professionals etc but can only go with what fits the family........untiol a different approach is needed of course.grin

flow4 Wed 16-Jan-13 21:08:52

I don't think there are 'right' ways to parent; I think there are ways that work... Or not. smile

herewegoloubylou Wed 16-Jan-13 21:09:42

I think as a parent it's in the interests of our children to avoid black-and-white thinking: it's good to see loads of shades of grey.

Books like yours give different angles from the ones known within our extended families and passed down Philip Larkin stylee.

Smudging Wed 16-Jan-13 21:10:50

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MummaBubba123 Wed 16-Jan-13 21:11:40

Hi Steve,
Yes. I think I know what you mean. One of the things I hate most is the indignance with which most mothers strive to defend 'their way' of feeding, napping, schooling and potty training (to name but a few) their own children - as if it were THE way to do things. To me, this smacks of insecurity and a need to feel that they are doing 'the right thing' - when in fact, there is only ever 'the best thing for you, your own family set up and your children. It's quite alienating and easy to feel excluded, judged and alienated as a parent.

stevebiddulph Wed 16-Jan-13 21:12:21

Thanks everyone - I am glad there is a spirit of evaluating, and also tolerating other points of view. We can help each other a lot if we respect our own ideas, and give a bit of credence to other points of view making sense to others. No need to fight about it. Now, I can get on to some stuff about girls, and feel we are on safe ground... you will just take it as one man's ideas to consider. Really feeling happier now..

AppleOgies Wed 16-Jan-13 21:13:00

I can understand how you are uncomfortable with the 'expert' 'parenting guru' tags. I think the thing about parenting is we are all doing our best and hopefully we get it right most of the time but that there's advice out there when we feel we are not getting it quite right.

I don't really have a question, I'm not raising girls, the aim of this webchat. But I did purchase your raising boys and found it very enlightening.

stevebiddulph Wed 16-Jan-13 21:13:57

Okay. Now in the Girls book, I had to decide - what is really going to help. And rather than giving advice or saying the ONE RIGHT WAY, I opted to help people think more about their daughter, in terms of the overall goals of bringing her up. I believe that there are some big stepping stones to womanhood, and if you keep those clearly in focus, it gives you a sense of where you are going, and guides you in figuring out what to do.

Those are, very simply put…

In babyhood - to feel loved and secure
In toddlerhood and pre-school age - to be exploring and curious and have an adventurous approach to the world - especially important in girls, to not be restricted (by attitudes, or fussy clothes) and for adults to show and teach enthusiasm about the world.
In school - aged five to ten - to learn about friendship and getting along with others.
In the early teens - 10-14 - to find your SOUL, your true self.
In the late teens 14-18 - to practice for being an adult woman.
And finally to step into adulthood, take responsibility for your life.

Do those stages make sense to you? Can you see how that gives you a clear goal?
In a minute or two, I will come back about how you can use them.

The book expands on these stages hugely. It has many stories about them. Stories to make you laugh, and cry, but above all recognize the journey we all make with our daughters. How intense it is, how demanding and how joyful.
The thing that happens with the stages, is each stage involves some struggle. For example friendship is like oxygen to most girls. They live and breathe it. But it hurts them too. It takes years, sometimes decades, to learn how to get along with others. So we have to learn it ourselves, and we have to help them, heal their wounds, figure it out with them patiently each day, and send them back to try again.

Does that make sense? Can you see how each stage takes some real work and learning for us and them?

StewieGriffinsMom Wed 16-Jan-13 21:14:26

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 16-Jan-13 21:14:55

I think the idea that there's more than one way to skin a cat (as it were) is at the very essence of Mumsnet. Ask a question and you're likely to get quite a few suggestions of how to approach it, the idea of collective wisdom is that you can pick what's right for you and your family and leave the rest for someone else. At least that's the way it appears to work to me smile. And welcome, Steve by the way. Lovely to have you back after all these years.

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

LurcioLovesFrankie Wed 16-Jan-13 21:15:21

Hi Steve, You seem to put a great deal of emphasis in your work on the differences between girls and boys. But most studies of gender differences suggest the d-values are low - i.e. the difference in means between the populations is much smaller than the standard deviations of the populations. How do you feel about this? Do you feel you're maybe not giving enough space for emotionally aware, artistic boys, or go-getting, ambitious girls to simply be themselves?

blossomhillontapplease Wed 16-Jan-13 21:15:39

As a parent having only 1 child made a difference to how much I listened to advice. I see friends with 2 or more dc's and they are more relaxeed about how they approach things or confident even.

(That wasn't to Justine, btw, despite the unfortunate juxtaposition - it was to the OP's post of 21:12.)

stevebiddulph Wed 16-Jan-13 21:19:13

Some of the questions I can't quite follow - but in a way they are part of the question we are discussing. You might not agree with me about testosterone affecting boys. Or about gender differences (which I think are very much influenced by culture as well). The point is - we don't have to agree. We need all those different points of view. Can you accept that I see things differently to you?

flow4 Wed 16-Jan-13 21:19:52

I'm not sure I buy all those stages, Steve. I reckon huge numbers of women (well, people, actually) haven't found their 'true selves' at 40 - let alone 14! grin

TunipTheVegedude Wed 16-Jan-13 21:20:03

Steve, I don't want to be horrid to you, I'm sure you're a really nice guy who is doing his best, but you do get, don't you, the political dimensions of a man popping up and saying 'We need a new kind of feminism'? Particularly when he is a man talking to women about raising girls.

concessionsavailable Wed 16-Jan-13 21:20:19

Steve, I think you're being very honest here and it's very refreshing. I am not finding you patronising. The problem is I think that parenting books get touted as telling us "how to do it right" and then of course, no one wants to be told that. The Sunday Times article, for example, starts with "Girls should have space and security to become women at their own pace, but it rarely works out like this". Implication= parents are doing it all wrong, and it's going to take a man to tell you how to do it right. Result= scores of pissed off mothers on MN. And we haven't even started on the vexed question of gender differences and nature/ nurture debate yet.

Smudging Wed 16-Jan-13 21:21:25

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

stevebiddulph Wed 16-Jan-13 21:21:27

So what I would really like to know is - do these stages sound right to you?
Do they fit what you see your DD struggling with at that age?
Does it help to see a clear goal for each age, that you can aim for?

StewieGriffinsMom Wed 16-Jan-13 21:21:31

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

TunipTheVegedude Wed 16-Jan-13 21:21:32

' You might not agree with me about testosterone affecting boys.'

That isn't about whether we agree or not, it's about what the evidence is for something that is presented as fact but for which people can't find your source. Please could you provide a reference? Many thanks.

Happygoluckylady Wed 16-Jan-13 21:21:45

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

herewegoloubylou Wed 16-Jan-13 21:22:08

I don't see that it was in the least bit patronising, LRD. I'm really going to be upset if this webchat is de-railed by a pile-on.

scottishmummy Wed 16-Jan-13 21:22:39

good evening,tonight you seem more conciliatory than raising boys book,you were more strident.more sure slammers were irresponsible and daycare caused mental illness. I believe 1 in 5 was cited

MmeLindor Wed 16-Jan-13 21:22:58

Steve
Of course we can have different points of view, but when you assert that testosterone affects boys at age 4yo, without providing evidence of that claim, then that is not your opinion. You have presented that as a fact.

A fact that is now being repeated and has grown to be a 'truth'.

That is not a difference of opinion. That is twisting science to suit your agenda.

Not trying to be rude here, but I am utterly bemused by that statement.

I'm afraid I do find it patronizing that Steve seems to think it is necessary to ask an audience of adults, repeatedly, if they can accept he has different views from them.

Steve, we know that. We are not idiots.

But you came here to discuss your book, and I'm disappointed that instead you seem to be lecturing us on the primary-school politics of pleasant conversation.

Do you think your book is entirely a matter of opinion, or were there any facts in there? Such as your claim about the testosterone surges?

stevebiddulph Wed 16-Jan-13 21:24:07

Okay, now I had better get to specific questions. I'll answer it here rather than at the bottom of the thread.

Okay - now Gazzalw

Nice to hear from you, and you must be a dad if you are from a family of all boys?
Girls are usually much more wired for social awareness, and even as babies they focus more on faces and reactions. This is a strength except when they are very anxious and then friendship problems can tip them over. THEY NEED HELP WITH FRIENDSHIP because its the most complex thing we do.

It all begins in babyhood. The secure attachment of mother and baby (or dad and baby) lays the foundations for being trusting, available to love and closeness with others. If your daughter was close to you, she will know how to be close to others.

But its from 5 - 10 that friendship is the uppermost topic for girls, because this is their primary learning goal at this age. HOW TO GET ALONG WITH OTHERS.

There are seven core skills involved in being a friend.

1. Enjoying the company of others - lightening up and treating company as a chance for fun.
2. Learning to take turns and share -you have more fun if you play together, but you have to give a little to make that work.
3. Being able to empathize - imagining how you would feel in your friend’s shoes, and being happy for them when they “win” or “star” in the game. This is a more advanced skill, it doesn’t always come easily.
1. Being able to regulate aggression - not screaming or clobbering your friends when you disagree. Not storming off because you are losing the argument.
2.Apologizing when you are wrong, or have hurt a friend’s feelings.
3. Being able to read emotions. Seeing when someone is angry, sad or afraid and adjusting your behaviour accordingly. You can even teach this with drawings of smiley, frowny, teary and shakey faces, helping your daughter recognize them, and applying this to situations when her friends have been upset.
4.Learning when to trust or believe someone, and when not to. That people can be deceptive for reasons of their own. Your daughter will be shocked and hurt when a friend lies or deceives her. You will need to comfort her and explain that some people have not learned the value of being trustworthy. Don’t lose heart, just be a little careful.

Each of these will arise often in your daughter’s day to day life. When she comes to you hurt or bewildered, you can pinpoint which skill is called for, listen to her feelings, but then talk to her about how that skill can be done. It will take a few goes to get right, so follow up with her over a few days or weeks. Even we adults often don’t get these right, so have respect for the hugeness of what she is having to learn, and praise and affirm her for even small steps.

I hope this helps a bit. A just seven years of age, a lot of learning is going on, it takes years, and so calmly listening to her as she talks it through.

One very good reason NOT not to have mobile phones until much older is that you can leave the playground behind and come home to some peace, and get a sense of perspective. Otherwise you carry all those stresses home with you via texts and calls.

Great question, hope that is some help.

StewieGriffinsMom Wed 16-Jan-13 21:24:33

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

herewegoloubylou Wed 16-Jan-13 21:24:43

Those stages do look right to me, yes.

OliviaPeacein2013Mumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 16-Jan-13 21:26:03

Ahem.

MummaBubba123 Wed 16-Jan-13 21:26:26

Can we leave out the questioning about evidence used in Raising Boys book, please. Everyone knows that we can't totally generalise and that some girls are more boyish (highly technical term) in some / many of their characteristics; likewise, some boys have some characteristics that are generally more commonly associated with girls of their age. It's about individuals. However, since my children have demonstrated to me that girls ARE different to boys in many respects - and I don't have a problem with overlooking those aspects that don't necessarily apply to MY child/ren, let's get on with the 'job' of listening to someone who MAY JUST KNOW SOMETHING WE DON'T. Even if we don't agree with everything or if something may not be personally applicable!

stevebiddulph Wed 16-Jan-13 21:27:42

Dear Ashoething!

A short question but a great one. The toxic messages from the media about weight and size have harmed several generations of women (and increasingly men). The diet industry feeds on this, and keeps fuelling it.
In my talks I ask people to put their hands up if they are not happy with their own bodies. 95% of hands go up. And you are right - how can we possibly show our daughters how to be appreciative and loving towards their own bodies if we ourselves are always talking about weight, diet, and looks.
The chapter in Raising Girls about this was written by two women therapists who work with eating disorders, and they are convinced, with good research evidence, that the focus needs to be on enjoying our bodies with normal activity, not compulsive excercize OR dieting, which fails in 90% of cases. Even talking about good and bad foods sets up a guilt cycle. Better to talk about everyday food, and sometimes food, and keep sweet or junk foods for occasional use only.
I grew up ashamed of my body, but eventually in my 20’s I simply noticed - its strong, its healthy, it carries me through this life, and people I care about love me for myself. I just hug gently so my ribs don’t squash anyone!

TunipTheVegedude Wed 16-Jan-13 21:29:38

I don't find your stages very helpful tbh. My 3yo son is currently making huge strides with learning about getting on with others. My 7yo daughter is benefiting most from her scientist dad's enthusiasm about the world. I can't see the logic to gender-differentiating these goals, or to setting arbitrary time limits on them.

gazzalw Wed 16-Jan-13 21:30:07

Thanks for that answer Steve.

TunipTheVegedude Wed 16-Jan-13 21:31:11

MummaBubba are you serious? We shouldn't ask about evidence? shock

stevebiddulph Wed 16-Jan-13 21:32:14

On the gender difference thing, I don't experience this ever being resolveable because its an ideological thing. The best book on the subject, cited in Raising Girls quite a bit, is Cordelia Fine's book, I think called The Myth of Gender.
There are just two differences which really stand up and are important for parenting. That is - that girls are much more wired for social awareness, even at birth they respond to social cues more. And the age (and process) of puberty differs markedly - usually two years sooner for girls. These really affect the stages and when they happen. I disagree with the idea of merging gender as if its not a real thing. But I've never known a debate on this to get anywhere. We need this tension between viewpoints to prevent extremes I think.

DisAstrophe Wed 16-Jan-13 21:32:55

Steve

How can we protect girls from being so worried about their appearance -weight, looks etc?

MummaBubba123 Wed 16-Jan-13 21:33:21

So, junk food for occasional use won't create cravings as they're wanting it more often? This is something I wonder often as I only give my children junk on occasion (birthday cake at birthday party, for example). No chocolate or sweets - they've never had it so they won't miss it. Or will they suddenly binge on it gd forbid, when they discover it as teenagers, etc.?

TunipTheVegedude Wed 16-Jan-13 21:34:16

'There are just two differences which really stand up and are important for parenting. That is - that girls are much more wired for social awareness, even at birth they respond to social cues more.'

That's the opposite of what Cordelia Fine's book says. It's called 'Delusions of Gender' btw. Did you read it? It's really good.

orangepudding Wed 16-Jan-13 21:34:27

I don't think a girl will find herself between 10 & 14, much older than that.

stevebiddulph Wed 16-Jan-13 21:34:42

I'm going to answer Guard now. I've been asked to put it on Guard's section, but still figuring that out. Here it is for now...

Dear Guard
There is simply nothing at all about sibling rivalry in the new book! But there is a great book Siblings without Rivalry, that is recommended by my friends at Parentline Plus.
Sometimes we have to look at the big picture - is there enough love to go around. When there is a shortage, everyone fights for it. But some kids need a lot more reassurance of their worth than others.

Have a look at the five stages of girlhood in the book, sometimes one of your girls has not got a stage quite completed, and they stay behaving immaturely as a result. Its not their fault, but gives you a guide to what might be needed to help her be more secure.

concessionsavailable Wed 16-Jan-13 21:35:27

I totally get where you are coming from with your answer about body image. It's not helped of course by nursery/ school etc. sending kids home with ideas about "naughty food" and "healthy food"- I've seen plenty of MN threads about this.

Since you ask, I can see that you need the stages to provide a frame for your book, but TBH I think I could cheerfully spend all evening taking them apart. Like Tunip I wondered in particular about the logic of gender differentiation. For example, in your view, from 5-10, is friendship not also the uppermost topic for boys? (Genuine question, I too don't want a pile-on on this thread!)

stevebiddulph Wed 16-Jan-13 21:36:45

This is for flow4 sorry I can't find your question now, but here's the answer...

Dear Flow4
These are very wise comments. Its true that these problems were sneaking up on us over several generations. However some problems have shown a doubling or tripling just over the last decade. Self harm, actual suicide (as opposed to attempting, are on the increase and anxiety/depression affect on in five. Age of first intercourse is falling. Multiple sexual partners is soaring in girls still at school.

Its true that girls tend to internalize while boys externalize. This pressure you talk about is one of the key reasons I wrote the book. Its simply become epidemic. “I hate my body” is something almost every parent hears now. But the origins of insecurity may arise in the early years, and just become evident in the teens when it all comes to a head.

Its been my life’s work to get dads more involved in parenting, and in fact (not due to me)
young fathers according to some studies are spending three times as much time with their
childen (in direct activityi with them) compared to a generation ago. I see that as being important to encourage and continue. Dads seem to be important to the self esteem of girls and the research links good fathering with a strong preventive role for premature sexual activity, dropping out of school, and many other risk factors.

There is a lot in the new book encouraging and going into the specifics of how dads can be around daughters. And do so sensitively and respectfully.

As I read it, Delusions of Gender demonstrated (rather well) that the research on girls being 'wired' for social awareness from birth is, well, suspect.

But, even assuming this to be true - could you help me to understand why it's a good idea to have 'tensions between [extreme] viewpoints'? I mean, I don't understand if you actually don't honestly believe your own work is right, or if you're just trying to be polite, you do believe your work is right, but you don't think anyone would be convinced by the scientific evidence, so it's not worth citing?

Excuse me if that sounds combative. I do hope it doesn't - I think these are fascinating topics.

StewieGriffinsMom Wed 16-Jan-13 21:38:04

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

stevebiddulph Wed 16-Jan-13 21:39:28

concessionsavailable

I totally get where you are coming from with your answer about body image. It's not helped of course by nursery/ school etc. sending kids home with ideas about "naughty food" and "healthy food"- I've seen plenty of MN threads about this.

Since you ask, I can see that you need the stages to provide a frame for your book, but TBH I think I could cheerfully spend all evening taking them apart. Like Tunip I wondered in particular about the logic of gender differentiation. For example, in your view, from 5-10, is friendship not also the uppermost topic for boys? (Genuine question, I too don't want a pile-on on this thread!)

Not with the same intensity. The differences are not black and white, but of degree. And the timing is different. But not every child is so clear cut.
Its a generalization that helps to a degree. But its not absolute.

HotheadPaisan Wed 16-Jan-13 21:39:52

Do you talk about girls and autism in your book? How about girls who don't conform to gender stereotypes? What advice do you give? Do you see many families where these things are going on via your therapy work?

MummaBubba123 Wed 16-Jan-13 21:40:25

MUMSNET:
SOMEONE IS POSTING WITHOUT MY PERMISSION USING MY IDENTITY!
How is this possible. I did NOT post the message I've copied and pasted below but it's come up with MY IDENTITY:
MummaBubba123 the whole point of asking for evidence is that most of us don't believe some girls are 'more boyish' than others or that there are a list of characteristics Of girl/boy. That's because there is no real evidence that that is the case. Innate gender differences aren't scientifically verifiable and making claims about testosterone boosts at any age without evidence to back it up is ethically and scientifically unsound.

stevebiddulph Wed 16-Jan-13 21:40:35

Dear Ontherunmum,

I can’t help noticing your nickname, and wonder if you see yourself as a person who has to hurry through life?
I am so pleased you are the first questioner who has read some of the book, even just i the extract in the newspaper, and it is resonating with you. I admire parents who actively seek ideas and try them out.
for size.

The more you can find calmness and happiness through activities you enjoy, friendship, meditation or sport, things for your own wellbeing, the better you will be able to show these qualities to your daughter.

Around thirteen, girls revisit a lot of baby issues and its a chance to put in some more affection and warmth, but you don’t have to wait for that if she is open to it.
We are all still growing ourselves up as we parent our children. You are very wise to have seen this intergenerational pattern, and so well on the way to breaking it and having a more relaxed life.

mumma, it comes up on my screen as SGM's post (hope that reassures you!)

stevebiddulph Wed 16-Jan-13 21:42:45

HotheadPaisan

Do you talk about girls and autism in your book? How about girls who don't conform to gender stereotypes? What advice do you give? Do you see many families where these things are going on via your therapy work?

There is some stuff about girls and Aspergers, as they are underdiagnosed.
Their more advanced social ability masks it, but they are very anxious nontheless.

MmeLindor Wed 16-Jan-13 21:43:04

Mummabubba
Calm down. Stewie answered your question and added your name at the beginning so that you would know she was referring to you.

No one has stolen your identity.

stevebiddulph Wed 16-Jan-13 21:43:35

Dear Jugglingfromheretothere

Glad you liked Secrets of Happy Children. That book has its thirtieth anniversary next year. Yes, I did hesitate to write a book about girls - for about fifteen years! But I think while women do have a head start in understanding girls, its totally appropriate for men to try and do their best to understand them too. Many women are involved in the new book, contributing chapters, and my wife Shaaron contributed hugely too. She basically taught me how to parent. I was deliberate in testing the new book on women readers and took four years to bring it to fruition. Good on you for being open minded, I’d love to know how you find it.

LesBOFerables Wed 16-Jan-13 21:44:16

I think you might be confused, love, because your name was bolded at the start of the sentence.

StewieGriffinsMom Wed 16-Jan-13 21:44:23

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Lessthanaballpark Wed 16-Jan-13 21:44:53

Steve,
you brought up an interesting point when you said "that girls are much more wired for social awareness", and the skills you listed focus on the importance of social interactions for girls and their self-esteem.

I wonder though, if we shouldn't be telling our girls to not WORRY SO MUCH about that kind of stuff, about being popular, & what people think of them, about the need to feel and show such empathy ( especially if it's natural for them anyway after all).

I think it's exhausting for girls this idea that they are the world leaders in empathy. It's so much pressure and I for one would have saved many hours of my life if I hadn't worried so much about being "a good girl" and appearing caring.

What do you think?

stevebiddulph Wed 16-Jan-13 21:45:17

It'd be very helpful to me to focus on this while we have so many good brains on tap right now. Is it okay for a man to write about girls?

(If you've read the book, please say so, as that will help too in evaluating what kind of job I have done.)

MummaBubba123 Wed 16-Jan-13 21:45:37

Oops. I see it was my inability to catch up with the times! Someone was using my name to actually respond to me! lol
I'd rather leave this to listening to what Steve has to say. I'd rather not challenge his knowledge and experience as I'm sure it'll be of value. We are all welcome to filter out the bits we don't feel are applicable - or correct. Perhaps it's not the right webchat for you if you don't agree with the whole purpose of the thing!

concessionsavailable Wed 16-Jan-13 21:45:43

Thank you Steve for answering my question

I think lots of men write well about girls. It's probably more about the individual. smile

I've read bits of the book, not all of it.

Smudging Wed 16-Jan-13 21:46:50

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

KRITIQ Wed 16-Jan-13 21:46:56

I can see the description of ages/stages as a general approach to "focus" on what matters for children and young people (but applicable to both girls and boys, as others have said.)

What IS different for boys and girls though is the wider social context - particularly the "cultural messages" that promote different characteristics and behaviours as "for girls" and "for boys." That starts at birth with the pink and blue segregation of clothes, toys and activities. It segues into messages from "popular culture" promoting the idea that girls and women should be attractive, passive and sexy boys and men should be hyper-,asculine, competitive and whatever they do, be NOTHING like girls. Many of these messages also glamourise and "normalise" violence against women and victim-blaming, which can influence their expectations of future sexual relationships.

Since it's virtually impossible to contain even young children's exposure to sexualised messages in society, do you have any advice for parents, teachers and other adults on how they can best support children to engage critically with this? How can we help them to resist the gender stereotyping, to be "their own people," and have the best chance of forming healthy, respectful, equitable relationships as they move into adult life?

(Also interested in a reference for the "testosterone surge" please. Thanks!)

flow4 Wed 16-Jan-13 21:47:02

Thanks for your reply, Steve, but it doesn't quite answer my question, which was "So my question is this - if there is a crisis for girls now - is this also due to men's withdrawal from parenting? What do you think fathers offer girls that mothers cannot? Or do you have some other explanation...?"

Your intro suggests that you think there is a crisis for girls. Is this (in your opinion only, I accept smile ) due to a lack of 'fathering'?

I'm especially interested in what you think father bring that mothers do not or cannot... The examples you gave in your reply relate mostly to self esteem; are you going so far as to suggest mothers can't give girls self esteem, and a father is essential?

HotheadPaisan Wed 16-Jan-13 21:48:05

True about underdiagnosis and anxiety, thanks.

Really interested on not conforming/being different though, what about where teenagers are starting to think about whether they are LGBT for example? Is there anything on sexuality in the book?

Also, how do we change these messages that are making girls so unhappy? How do we improve friendships in schools?

Why not challenge someone's knowledge? If you are going to write a book designed to act as a guide for parents, surely its readers want to know that the information presented is right and not just based in stereotypes or unsubstantiated claims?

HotheadPaisan Wed 16-Jan-13 21:49:28

KRITIQ put it better.

HelenMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 16-Jan-13 21:49:28

MummaBubba123

MUMSNET:
SOMEONE IS POSTING WITHOUT MY PERMISSION USING MY IDENTITY!
How is this possible. I did NOT post the message I've copied and pasted below but it's come up with MY IDENTITY:
MummaBubba123 the whole point of asking for evidence is that most of us don't believe some girls are 'more boyish' than others or that there are a list of characteristics Of girl/boy. That's because there is no real evidence that that is the case. Innate gender differences aren't scientifically verifiable and making claims about testosterone boosts at any age without evidence to back it up is ethically and scientifically unsound.

Please don't worry MummaBubba123. No one is posting using your identity.

The bit on the post that tells us who is "talking" is the bit in the blue bar with the person's username in and the date and time of the post.

The text in black in the white box is the content of the post. Sometimes, people like to reply specifically to others on the thread by putting their name in bold at the start of the post (in the white box).

Hope that's a little clearer.

LurcioLovesFrankie Wed 16-Jan-13 21:49:54

Mumma - I don't think there's a right or wrong purpose to this webchat. Some people on here have found his books useful and want to ask parenting questions. Some of us are research scientists ourselves (though not necessarily in this area - but standards of evidence and citations for claims go across disciplines) and want to ask him questions about his research methodology and the evidence for his factual claims. Both are perfectly reasonable things to want to get out of a web chat.

Thanks for responding to my post Steve, that's made my evening !
I do look forward to reading your new book about Raising Girls, especially with DD on the brink of her teenage years.
The 5 stages sound intriguing !

HotheadPaisan Wed 16-Jan-13 21:51:49

Very good point Lessthanaballpark Wed 16-Jan-13 21:44:53

Smudging Wed 16-Jan-13 21:52:20

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

TunipTheVegedude Wed 16-Jan-13 21:52:27

MummaBubba, I think we disagree about the purpose of a webchat. I think it is fantastic that Mumsnet gives us the opportunity to talk directly to people who write books about which we have questions, so we can ask them to clarify stuff about which we're not clear, explain to us where the get the info from so we can follow it up, if they've forgotten to give a reference, and sometimes further understand the political dimensions of where they're coming from and thus gain a deeper comprehension of their oeuvre. It is absolutely not about setting them on a pedestal and expecting us to stay away if we don't nod enthusiastically at everything they say.

scottishmummy Wed 16-Jan-13 21:52:40

do stop instructing us how to post mummabubba,point of discussion,is to discuss and that includes contest and comment

I'm sure dr biddulph is used to robust discussion

MummaBubba123 Wed 16-Jan-13 21:52:41

Am I the only person on this webchat to have a girl and a boy that pretty much fall into stereotypical behaviours / characteristic types? My daughter will sit and concentrate, be eagre to please, etc. while my son was racing off at 7 months - learning through 'doing'. I feel this is all getting nowhere as some people on here are more interested in tying Steve down over evidence used in his books. Whatever! Shame!

concessionsavailable Wed 16-Jan-13 21:53:55

Lessthanaballpark that's a very interesting point and I completely agree.

LesBOFerables Wed 16-Jan-13 21:54:28

I'm sure Steve didn't just pull those facts out of his arse. That's crazy talk.

Um ... mumma, I don't quite understand where you're coming from. One of the biggest compliments you can pay to someone who writes a well-researched book, is to show you're interested in their ideas and would like to know more.

There is no reason to say 'shame!' to anyone asking about evidence.

I'm sure, as scottish says, Dr Biddulph is used to a good discussion of the evidence, and I'm looking forward to his replies (though, eek, we've not much time!).

TunipTheVegedude Wed 16-Jan-13 21:56:11

Steve, in answer to your question, men should write about girls, and it is important that they do so, but they need to do it with a full understanding of the political significance of them doing so in the context in which they are speaking/writing. In other words, it's not neutral that it's a man doing it. It means you are participating in a long tradition of men speaking to women about childcare - if you haven't already, you should read the most recent edition of Christina Hardyment's 'Dream Babies: Childcare Advice From Locke to Spock' on this, it's brilliant.

stevebiddulph Wed 16-Jan-13 21:56:22

HotheadPaisan

True about underdiagnosis and anxiety, thanks.

Really interested on not conforming/being different though, what about where teenagers are starting to think about whether they are LGBT for example? Is there anything on sexuality in the book?

Also, how do we change these messages that are making girls so unhappy? How do we improve friendships in schools?

Yes, there is a section of girls of other sexualities, as well as some good resources. We tried to make the book a good basic introduction to most things a parent would encounter. Its also much better referenced than Raising Boys
The research on testosterone was done in the 1950's throughout the life cycle of males. its high in babies, goes lower, rises briefly at four, drops, and rises again at thirteen. Stays high until early twenties then slowly tails off.

herewegoloubylou Wed 16-Jan-13 21:57:17

Precisely, so little time for people with daughters to get answers to their questions. angry

MmeLindor Wed 16-Jan-13 21:57:22

Mummabubba
I have a boy and a girl, and yes they do conform to 'gender stereotypes' - at least at first glance. I have been paying close attention to my son though, and he SAYS he doesn't like writing, that he prefers maths, but he is actually very good at writing. He is creative and very descriptive. Sometimes even we parents have to look beyond the stereotype.

HotheadPaisan Wed 16-Jan-13 21:58:59

'Recently he has been outspoken about the premature sexualization of girls through media exposure, impacting on the mental health of girls.'

Would like to hear more on this - what should be done about it?

AbigailAdams Wed 16-Jan-13 21:58:59

Well said Lessthanaballpark. As a woman, that is certainly one pressure I don't need and certainly one that men don't have or feel the need to have. I strongly believe that we shouldn't be teaching girls to bear the responsibility for other people's feelings and relationships and be teaching our boys more empathy and how to cultivate friendships between 5 and 10.

MmeLindor Wed 16-Jan-13 21:59:15

Herewego
He is not answering our questions anyway. The side spat with Mumma doesn't slow Steve down.

TunipTheVegedude Wed 16-Jan-13 21:59:55

MummaBubba - my 3 definitely don't fall into the stereotypes. I have a 7yo girl who is loud and needs to burn off energy, a 6yo boy who is very good at sitting and listening, and a 3yo boy who likes dressing up and being pretty. Perhaps the difference between your kids and my kids accounts of some of the differences in our reception of his work?

MummaBubba123 Wed 16-Jan-13 22:00:33

Exactly, can we stop wasting time about research when this is supposed to be about asking questions about raising girls? I'm sure he'd be happy to respond to your research-based questions on other books personally. We don't have time here. Just comes across as challenging diversion that undermines purpose of webchat. THAT is the shame of it. NOT that you are asking about the statistical research facts!

stevebiddulph Wed 16-Jan-13 22:01:07

lets keep going a bit longer if mumsnet don't mind.
The withdrawal of dads from girls and boys lives was throughout the twentieth century. Dads are now increasing their involvement. It seems, and their is good evidence, to really improve girls's self esteem, sexual safety, school attainment. But its a huge thing, and we have a long way to go. Thebook has very specific and detailed guidelines for dads, in special section as well as throughout the book. If I have achieved one thing in this life I think I have encouraged dads to play a part in their kids lives.

Its likely the girls affected most by sexualization, most exploited by boys, and most prone to eating disorders, are the ones whose dads don't step up, but leave it all to the mother. So given that most mothers do apretty good job, dads are certainly the missing link.

AbigailAdams Wed 16-Jan-13 22:02:02

Another good comment from MmeLindor. So true. It is one of the things I am trying to do. With limited success. I have two boys. Like opposites at the moment. But eldest is being typically stereotyped because he likes dinosaurs. Who doesn't like dinosaurs I say?

Blatherskite Wed 16-Jan-13 22:02:32

He seems to be asking more questions than he answers

LurcioLovesFrankie Wed 16-Jan-13 22:03:13

And it's not an either-or thing. My little boy (just coming up for 5) is very active and up every tree he can reach the branches of (just like me when I was a kid). But he's also deeply emotionally involved in his friendships (which seem every bit as complex as the stereotypical little girl friendships), has very good fine motor skills, loves drawing. Sometimes his toy cars have races, sometimes they have tea parties in the dolls house. I just don't find attaching gender specific labels to children's activities terribly useful.

My niece (and I'm posting on this thread because I want to discuss it with SIL and her first language isn't English) isn't yet two, but so far, no, mumma, she doesn't fit the stereotype. In fact, lots of people who don't know assume she is a little boy. I wonder what the effect of this will be, and how long it will go on.

scottishmummy Wed 16-Jan-13 22:04:18

Dr biddulph,what's your thoughts on neuronal plasticity,experience,and reinforcement as determinants of behaviour and observable trait,rather than gender. the fMRI evidence for gender differences is inconclusive and contested.

what syour thoughts on fMRI in explaining gender differences

mumma, knock it off, you're being very rude.

LurcioLovesFrankie Wed 16-Jan-13 22:04:44

Thanks for staying to chat longer, Steve, much appreciated.

JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 16-Jan-13 22:04:45

Only one of my four (a boy) liked dinosaurs - was potty about them. Other three (two girls, one boy), no interest at all. Not sure that tells you anything at all smile.

stevebiddulph Wed 16-Jan-13 22:04:58

HotheadPaisan

'Recently he has been outspoken about the premature sexualization of girls through media exposure, impacting on the mental health of girls.'

Would like to hear more on this - what should be done about it?

Okay - most of my work is in Australia of course. But I belong to a collective that confronts sexualization in advertizing and the media, called Collective Shout. The first half of Raising Girls is all about this, but its a depressing picture and so balanced with what we can individually do. Keeping commercial TV away from small children. Not being ourselves concerned with weight and dieting. Making sure our girls are out doing active and messy and energetic things, not dressed in frilly dresses where they can't move. Getting very involved with nieces when they are in the 10-14 age group and need a mentor. Directing our girls more to their own inner world and their own judgement not that of others.

Paddlinglikehell Wed 16-Jan-13 22:06:31

I understand what you are saying but in this busy world we live in very often fathers are absent.

My other half runs his own company, he hates it that he is rarely home before dd goes to bed and that he works Sat. Very often he will say Sunday is daddy and ..... Day, but it is really hard. Is my dd really going to suffer because of this?

flow4 Wed 16-Jan-13 22:06:42

I appreciate you taking the time to answer me again, Steve, and I realised I had a 'secret agenda' underpinning what I was asking that made me dissatisfied with what you're saying! blush

I'm not so interested in the 'specific and detailed guidelines for dads', I realise, because I am a single mother and have been for around 17 years. I want to know whether you think a father offers something unique, or whether a mother can in fact provide every bit of guidance and support that a dad can, if she needs to...

stevebiddulph Wed 16-Jan-13 22:07:38

scottishmummy

Dr biddulph,what's your thoughts on neuronal plasticity,experience,and reinforcement as determinants of behaviour and observable trait,rather than gender. the fMRI evidence for gender differences is inconclusive and contested.

what syour thoughts on fMRI in explaining gender differences

As I said, there is cultural shaping of gender all the time. and its getting much worse. In the book we note the toy industry has gone totally gendered,even lego. But those core differences are still there. Hormones are real. But they don't determine our fate. Its a subtle thing.

stevebiddulph Wed 16-Jan-13 22:10:27

flow4

I appreciate you taking the time to answer me again, Steve, and I realised I had a 'secret agenda' underpinning what I was asking that made me dissatisfied with what you're saying! blush

I'm not so interested in the 'specific and detailed guidelines for dads', I realise, because I am a single mother and have been for around 17 years. I want to know whether you think a father offers something unique, or whether a mother can in fact provide every bit of guidance and support that a dad can, if she needs to...

Really appreciate your honesty flow4 A father provides a practice male, a hopefully safe man who loves you, is not sexual towards you, and treats you as special and valuable. Intelligent and with your own views. But you don't have to be a father (or even male necessarily) to do this. It just helps.
Granddads, uncles, teachers, can fill this place.
And a single mum teaches other important strengths - that a woman doesn't NEED a man. So there are plusses. I think its good to have both sexes in a girls' life. But they don't have to be married.

MmeLindor Wed 16-Jan-13 22:10:46

Mumma
Since Steve is not answering our questions, I am not sure why you are continually berating us for asking them.

You might like to find out a bit how these webchats work before you join in one again. We are allowed to ask critical questions, it is why authors and politicians come on MN.

You should have seen the last Nick Clegg chat.

Smudging Wed 16-Jan-13 22:11:26

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

OliviaPeacein2013Mumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 16-Jan-13 22:12:05

stevebiddulph

But I belong to a collective that confronts sexualization in advertizing and the media, called Collective Shout.

This sounds a lot like Mumsnet's Let Girls Be Girls

stevebiddulph Wed 16-Jan-13 22:13:08

Paddlinglikehell

I understand what you are saying but in this busy world we live in very often fathers are absent.

My other half runs his own company, he hates it that he is rarely home before dd goes to bed and that he works Sat. Very often he will say Sunday is daddy and ..... Day, but it is really hard. Is my dd really going to suffer because of this?

Yes. I would challenge him to re-evaluate his priorities. Thats, speaking as man. Its also making it hard for you. You might need to discuss what your shared goals are, financial and so on. Business is only going to get harder in future. Lots of men quit their jobs or change them after reading my Manhood book. I am glad of that. Daughters matter. Many women can recall a dad who was too busy, and how it wounded them.

Lessthanaballpark Wed 16-Jan-13 22:13:36

" In the book we note the toy industry has gone totally gendered,even lego. "

Steve, if the toy industry's gender stereotyping annoys you, then you are in good company! Our very own homegrown-here-at-Mumsnet campaign LetToysBeToys would really welcome your input.

Please come visit us!

AbigailAdams Wed 16-Jan-13 22:14:03

Hormones don't determine our personality. That is a ridiculous thing to say. Hormones help our body to perform its functions.

scottishmummy Wed 16-Jan-13 22:14:57

dr biddulph are you saying toys and their gender identifiable assignations shape traits and behaviours,as opposed to gender?is the influence of external variables like peer,societal pressure greater than gender

stevebiddulph Wed 16-Jan-13 22:15:39

Smudging

So culture determines our fate more than our sex in your opinion?

Yes, this is a very sexist culture. Thats why I want to see more activism happening. We can strengthen our own girls but not every girl has parents who understand or can cope with this. We also need legislative change around alcohol marketing, targetting of children with junk food. There is a lot about this in the book.

TunipTheVegedude Wed 16-Jan-13 22:16:08

I'm glad you're picking up on the gendering of the toy industry. As you will remember from Cordelia Fine, the evidence suggests it does matter (stereotype threat etc).

Smudging Wed 16-Jan-13 22:16:27

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

flow4 Wed 16-Jan-13 22:18:25

Thanks Steve smile

As an aside, but a relevant one I think... I had forgotten you are Australian. My impression of Australian 'mainstream' culture is that it is considerably more sexist than the British one. I may be wrong, but it feels to me that you are where we were 15-20 years ago, in terms of gender awareness and politics. I wonder how that is colouring our discussion here...? smile

Also, I wonder what you made of the awesome attack on misogyny made by your PM, Julia Guillard?! grin

Full version
Short extract

stevebiddulph Wed 16-Jan-13 22:19:07

AbigailAdams

Hormones don't determine our personality. That is a ridiculous thing to say. Hormones help our body to perform its functions.

But we have very different hormones. And they work differently on different receptors. You can have difference without inequality, and without it being deterministic. Even within boys there are huge differences, alpha males and gentle sensitive males. Their hormones are different. But we can amplify this by having more violence and fear - so testosterone rises. You have to see it as a dance.

Paddlinglikehell Wed 16-Jan-13 22:20:30

Very honest of you, hard to hear though! [goes off to have a chat with otherhalf]

Thanks

stevebiddulph Wed 16-Jan-13 22:20:33

flow4

Thanks Steve smile

As an aside, but a relevant one I think... I had forgotten you are Australian. My impression of Australian 'mainstream' culture is that it is considerably more sexist than the British one. I may be wrong, but it feels to me that you are where we were 15-20 years ago, in terms of gender awareness and politics. I wonder how that is colouring our discussion here...? smile

I am actually English, I just live there. Well, at least WE have a woman Prime Minister. GRIN. And she is feisty as hell.

Also, I wonder what you made of the awesome attack on misogyny made by your PM, Julia Guillard?! grin

Full version
Short extract

scottishmummy Wed 16-Jan-13 22:21:34

hormones are implicated in mood, and behaviour.and pnd treatment can include prescribing hormones. hormones have hugely significant impact on behaviour Inc pmt

stevebiddulph Wed 16-Jan-13 22:22:45

Lessthanaballpark

" In the book we note the toy industry has gone totally gendered,even lego. "

Steve, if the toy industry's gender stereotyping annoys you, then you are in good company! Our very own homegrown-here-at-Mumsnet campaign LetToysBeToys would really welcome your input.

Please come visit us!

Love to. Remember my role is not to be cutting edge, its to get good information to parents who don't read a lot or have much chance to reflect.
Nine specialists in these fields helped shape Raising Girls. I am just the storyteller who makes it accessible. I hope you will be proud of the job I have done.

Lessthanaballpark Wed 16-Jan-13 22:24:00

Steve, how would you propose helping girls to overcome the hideous genderisation of the toy industry? They constantly receive the message that things like science, construction and all the fun action stuff is for boys whilst makeup and beauty is marketed to them at such an early age.

Can enlightened parents really counterbalance all the nonsense that is sold to them?

Thanks for staying longer by the way. Very nice of you..

scottishmummy Wed 16-Jan-13 22:24:28

paddling unless you're prepared to drop standard of living,or yourself work more I'd not be instructing dh to decrease hours in a recession

stevebiddulph Wed 16-Jan-13 22:24:34

Paddlinglikehell

Very honest of you, hard to hear though! [goes off to have a chat with otherhalf]

Thanks

Good on you Paddling. Maybe soon you can change your name to Cruisingalong ! But seriously, its brave to have these talks about "where are we going". Shaaron and I have rebuilt our lives several times when it just wasn't right for us. I admire people who make these changes.

stevebiddulph Wed 16-Jan-13 22:27:10

Lessthanaballpark

Steve, how would you propose helping girls to overcome the hideous genderisation of the toy industry? They constantly receive the message that things like science, construction and all the fun action stuff is for boys whilst makeup and beauty is marketed to them at such an early age.

Can enlightened parents really counterbalance all the nonsense that is sold to them?

Thanks for staying longer by the way. Very nice of you..

yes, just don't buy it. but its a deep problem Lego researched what girls were interested in, and the number one topic was BEAUTY. This is four year olds. We have to stop buying those magazines, leaving the TV on which teaches them that looks are your most important trait. Some mothers I know are even getting rid of mirrors. And definitely scales in the bathroom. I think this is going to rise up as a movement, otherwise girls literally die from the anxiety.

orangepudding Wed 16-Jan-13 22:27:50

Surely the type of people who read your book are those likely to read a lot.

stevebiddulph Wed 16-Jan-13 22:28:38

scottishmummy

paddling unless you're prepared to drop standard of living,or yourself work more I'd not be instructing dh to decrease hours in a recession

Its not a recession Scottish, its a dying economy based on unsustainable greed. We all need to live more simply with less.

Paddlinglikehell Wed 16-Jan-13 22:28:55

scottishmummy. Considering I went into work yesterday and told the company was closing at 5pm that day, you are probably right.

steve. Otherhalf is looking decidedly sheepish!

steve, I'm trying to put this as politely as I can ... do you know that quite a lot of people are on the breadline? And there are actually children living in real poverty in this country?

How does that work with living 'more simply with less'?

I had just been warming to you for beginning to answer some questions but I am deeply disappointed with that response.

Lessthanaballpark Wed 16-Jan-13 22:31:07

Steve, yes it is definitely a matter of "chicken and egg" isn't it? Are girls interested in beauty because that is all that is on offer to them?

Of course there is nothing wrong with taking an interest in fashion and creativity, but it's all about balance and that balance seems to have gone way out of the window IMO.

stevebiddulph Wed 16-Jan-13 22:31:18

orangepudding

Surely the type of people who read your book are those likely to read a lot.

Thirty years ago I wrote the first ever parenting book with cartoons in it.
Secrets of Happy Children was read by people who had rarely read a book in their lives. Raising Boys is sometimes the only book a man has ever read.
I keep trying, but of course its you educated types who pay the rent! But I think when a movement takes off, everyone starts to hear about it. We gave away 4000 books in Brazil once.

scottishmummy Wed 16-Jan-13 22:32:20

to use your termed biddulph im a slammer, I think live simply is woolly vague
i dont want to life simply, I want to live fulfilled
I'm not avaricious I'm not defined by consumer goods but I derive approbation from work. and i have studied for long time

stevebiddulph Wed 16-Jan-13 22:33:49

Okay, I just noticed I was starting to get egotistical there, a sign my brain is fading and my better self has fallen asleep! Its been wonderful to spend this time with you. Thanks for understanding that complex questions don't have neat answers. All our kids make it through grace, whatever our efforts are, we do our best and then just hope. May yours become wise, warm and strong, and you feel very proud of them, just as they are.

TunipTheVegedude Wed 16-Jan-13 22:36:25

Goodnight, thank you for coming smile

Night night, and to your better self. smile

Paddlinglikehell Wed 16-Jan-13 22:37:48

Thank you for staying.

Hope you have a quiet night in your hotel.

Probably time to hit the minibar!

Goodnight

flow4 Wed 16-Jan-13 22:37:56

Thanks for your time, and goodnight. smile

MmeLindor Wed 16-Jan-13 22:38:10

Paddling
With all respect to Steve (and I admit that I don't agree with his opinions) I don't think that it is appropriate to base a lifestyle change on something that someone on the internet has said to you. Even if he is a best selling author of parenting books.

So is SWWMNBN but I wouldn't take advice from her.

As Steve said at the beginning of this webchat, there are many different opinions. His is that your daughter would be better off with a dad who is home more often. I don't disagree with that, but at the same time, now is not the time to be scaling back when one is self employed.

My DH worked very long hours when my DD was younger, and currently lives abroad and we only see him every few weeks for a weekend. She is a wonderful, talented and very balanced young girl of 10yo, with great self confidence and poise. It has certainly not harmed her.

LurcioLovesFrankie Wed 16-Jan-13 22:38:37

Good night, thanks for coming on here.

concessionsavailable Wed 16-Jan-13 22:38:55

Thank you Steve, I think this was a very interesting webchat and you handled it well, including staying longer.
If you think this was a bunfight, you should have seen the Oliver James webchat. He started yelling at us in capitals, and someone called him a "very silly man". smile

flow4 Wed 16-Jan-13 22:39:41

LDR and others... You are right there seems to be very little research evidence of a testosterone surge in boys around age 4.

I’ve done several searches like this one on google scholar and found almost nothing. But there are a couple of possible sources… I haven't evaluated any of it (or even actually read it!) but here are some references:

www.global-logic.net/articles/raising-boys.pdf
www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S019188699900149X

Also:
jcem.endojournals.org/content/95/1/82.long – Interesting paper that seems to suggest that girls aged 8-puberty actually have higher levels of testosterone than pre-pubertal boys.

And an interesting-looking critique here

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 16-Jan-13 22:40:50

Thanks Steve for staying well beyond the call of duty. We'll match the Qs with the As that were a bit confused in the morning. Thanks to you all for joining in the discussion.

Punkatheart Wed 16-Jan-13 22:44:29

Fascinating.

Thanks for all the insights.

MmeLindor Wed 16-Jan-13 22:45:54

Thanks for the interesting discussion, Steve. Certainly food for thought.

MmeLindor Wed 16-Jan-13 22:49:39

Flow
Thanks, will have a look at those. I found this interesting on the differences in aggression between girls and boys - raises interesting questions of our acceptance of boy's aggression and our demanding that girls be peacemakers

psych.cf.ac.uk/home2/hay/psychmed2007.pdf

Paddlinglikehell Wed 16-Jan-13 22:50:36

MmeLindor

Thanks for the concern, but otherhalf does need to hear something like this, and not just from me.

I can honestly say it won't be much of a lifestyle change in current circumstances and I am pleased to hear your dd is so balanced, I do worry about him not being around as much as other dads.

Our dd is only 8 but turning into a confident young girl too, one that is not at all hung up about fashion, looks, or what the latest trends are and has very firm opinions on everything at the moment!

flow, you're a star, thank you!

Thanks to all for another interesting evening, and to Steve, especially for your parting good wishes to us and our daughters.
Noticed someone suggesting it might be time for something from the mini-bar ! wine
Good night smile

flow4 Wed 16-Jan-13 23:08:51

You're welcome. smile

Mummyoftheyear Wed 16-Jan-13 23:19:19

How rude! Clearly a patronising comment.

Well, I don't think that was the friendliest way to leave things MOTY hmm

Good morning to all catching up with this interesting discussion today smile

I need to know if Im related to this guy!smile

gazzalw Thu 17-Jan-13 18:34:26

Can't believe it's all gone so quiet on here - the calm after the storm...?

JamieandtheMagicTorch Thu 17-Jan-13 19:25:58

Mme Lindor, can I say i've agreed with everrything you've written here.

Really interesting the pressure that being socially interested/ motivated out on us women, including not being great at asserting ourselves ....

JamieandtheMagicTorch Thu 17-Jan-13 19:26:42

That was meant to read " puts on us women "

scottishmummy Fri 18-Jan-13 21:34:59

it was v interesting,I found him both avoidant and selective
it's great mnhq host these web chats
it's a strength of mn that the web chats are so robust and not simply a buy the book pitch

JamieandtheMagicTorch Sat 19-Jan-13 10:12:41

yes

flow4 Sat 19-Jan-13 10:35:08

Definitely selective. I'm not sure whether he was avoidant, or whether there was some kind of time-lag, or whether he just read, typed and thought more slowly than us lot! grin

gazzalw Sat 19-Jan-13 10:56:11

I think he was using his reflective skills to the hilt

StewieGriffinsMom Mon 21-Jan-13 12:30:14

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

AbigailAdams Mon 21-Jan-13 12:47:07

The first piece is disgusting. Totally focussing on girls, their behaviour and reaction to boys behaviour.

He recognises "[Porn] tells girls that they are mere service stations for men and boys." Yet instead of focusing on boys mistreatment of girls because of this he focuses on how girls are reacting to it. And keeps the focus on policing girls behaviour rather than boys:

"Don’t let her go out simply to cruise the clubs or pubs. Have a definite deal about how she’s getting home and when; and be prepared to go and collect her anywhere and at anytime."

Your daughter doesn’t need you to be a friend. She desperately needs parents who set curfews, stop her drinking under-age, and know at all times whom she is with and where.

What about stopping boys from treating girls like sex objects? What about stopping porn and children being able to access it?

"But don’t make the mistake of dividing the female sex into ‘good girls’ and ‘bad girls’. The problem with this approach is that if your daughter feels desire, she may unconsciously label it as ‘bad’." How about you don't compare teenage girls to prostitutes Steve, as if that were a "bad" thing.

But I suppose me getting angry about this is just down to my hormones. Nothing to do with the misogynistic bullshit being spouted in these articles at all.

scottishmummy Mon 21-Jan-13 13:30:47

it gets worse he's doing a mnhq academy paid for class
IMO his ethos and ideologies don't sit comfortably with mn
im genuinely surprised mnhq are endorsing his ideologies via paid for class.wonder if mnhq profit share with sb

StewieGriffinsMom Mon 21-Jan-13 13:35:02

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

caramelwaffle Mon 21-Jan-13 14:02:57

I also agree with scottishmummy

AbigailAdams Mon 21-Jan-13 14:13:36

As do I!

Trills Mon 21-Jan-13 14:35:46

scottishmummy I have reported your post to ask someone from MNHQ to come and tell us if having someone do a MN Academy class constitutes Mumsnet "approving of them".

Asking someone on for a webchat does not constitute approval, IMO, it just means that MNHQ thinks we would like to talk to them (and we are here because we like to talk to people who have different opinions to us).

Running a paid-for class under the MN badge seems rather different.

StewieGriffinsMom Mon 21-Jan-13 14:40:15

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

TunipTheVegedude Mon 21-Jan-13 14:44:52

I too agree with ScottishMummy.

flow4 Mon 21-Jan-13 16:33:56

He doesn't strike me as especially misogynistic TBH, but ignorant and out-of-touch. He conveys a sort of old-school paternalism, portraying girls as vulnerable, potential victims and prey; sweet things we must protect from corruption. There is not the merest whiff of empowerment anywhere.

I haven't read Raising Girls (and won't be buying it) but from the extracts and web-chat, it seems his advice is idealistic, unrealistic and self-contradicting. For example, parents are told to "never snoop" AND to "check her phone" and insist she "has you as a FB friend". They must "keep the lines of communication open" while simultaneously doing several things that would make most DCs refuse to talk to you ever again, like insisting they only use computers in family spaces and removing phones at night.

The articles are pretty lazy bits of journalism (though it's hard to know whether that's the fault of Biddulph or The Mail hmm ) - they're full of generalisations, pseudo-science and similar nonsense. And it was interesting that he told us repeated in the web chat that he is not an 'expert'. He expanded (22:22): "Remember my role is not to be cutting edge, its to get good information to parents who don't read a lot or have much chance to reflect. Nine specialists in these fields helped shape Raising Girls. I am just the storyteller who makes it accessible."

He's doing several significant things here: he's letting himself off the hook and distancing himself from facts and science (he's "just the story-teller"); he's telling us clearly his theories are reductive and simple (his theories are based on just nine 'specialists', out of the tens of thousands of scientists, social scientists and academics focussed on gender studies); he's making no attempt to keep up-to-date and is comfortable with old messages (he's "not cutting edge"); and lastly, it's his intention to be popularist, not rigorous, let alone intellectual (he's aimed at "parents who don't read a lot")...

So we shouldn't have been surprised (and I admit I was) to find there isn't much evidence to back up his 'testosterone surge' theory: he's not focussed on evidence - he's just telling a story.

You can see why the DM likes him: simple messages, old fashioned, paternalistic... Slightly finger-wagging, but in a benevolent uncle kind of way... hmm grin

Those of you who like slightly subtler and more considered theories might enjoy these two thought-provoking short documentaries about Lego (which I stumbled upon accidentally):

www.feministfrequency.com/2012/01/lego-gender-part-1-lego-friends/

www.feministfrequency.com/2012/02/lego-gender-part-2-the-boys-club/

The presenter of these looks forward to a future where girls are "unconstrained by regressive notions of gender"... So do I... And I'm pretty sure this future is not going to be built by Steve Biddulph...

StewieGriffinsMom Mon 21-Jan-13 16:37:58

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

flow4 Mon 21-Jan-13 16:42:14

I hadn't seen that Stewie, thanks for linking it smile

flow4 Mon 21-Jan-13 16:44:41

They're really good, aren't they?! smile I cross-posted with everyone after Abigail cos I found them, and spent an hour watching and thinking! grin

I think the 2nd one may even be better than the first!

JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 21-Jan-13 19:41:44

Trills

scottishmummy I have reported your post to ask someone from MNHQ to come and tell us if having someone do a MN Academy class constitutes Mumsnet "approving of them".

Asking someone on for a webchat does not constitute approval, IMO, it just means that MNHQ thinks we would like to talk to them (and we are here because we like to talk to people who have different opinions to us).

Running a paid-for class under the MN badge seems rather different.

Evening all,
We're running a class with Steve Biddulph because we thought lots of Mumsnetters would like to attend and that it would be popular, and indeed so it has proved - we've sold nearly 100 tickets so far I think. As you can see from this thread Biddulph does have fans on Mumsnet and lots have said his books have helped them. Obviously he doesn't ring everyone's bell, which is fine by us and, I suspect, him.

In general we choose people to run a course for our Academy who are recognised as leading voices in their fields but that doesn't necessarily mean that Mumsnetters or, indeed, Mumsnet is obliged to agree with everything they say.

That said, I'd doubt we'd put on a Gina Ford course, even if she were to want us to (which I doubt she would) grin but we are looking for interesting and engaging tutors who a good number, if not all, Mumsnetters will want to hear from. Think Biddulph ticks that box. Thanks for raising it.

Wow, brilliant videos. Have watched and donated.

scottishmummy Mon 21-Jan-13 22:31:07

mnhq thanks for answers.my objections are
1. pejorative terms like slammers for working parents using daycare
2. questionable research and summation to support assertions. the assertion of gender differences.this has not been robustly established
3 a mismatch for parenting site aimed at supporting all parents and who's founders work,and your model is employing working parents too. biddulph regularly asserts work is detrimental, has strong beliefs that society is becoming avaricious advocates working less,down scaling
4 IMO he opportunistically spots gaps,manipulates parental worries, anxieties can be a real money spinner
5 he's rehashing established liberal feminism as if wow lookey here,new theory,new book

scottishmummy Mon 21-Jan-13 22:44:59

I'm not trying to censor or inhibit what mnhq do as I said I liked the web chat
variety is good,I just find biddulph v incongruent for a parenting site like mn
do invite dr fine,she's outstanding,robust and sound efficacy and governance

StewieGriffinsMom Mon 21-Jan-13 23:06:54

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 22-Jan-13 09:16:59

scottishmummy

I'm not trying to censor or inhibit what mnhq do as I said I liked the web chat
variety is good,I just find biddulph v incongruent for a parenting site like mn
do invite dr fine,she's outstanding,robust and sound efficacy and governance

Thanks for suggestion - we'll certainly look into getting Dr Fine involved.

StewieGriffinsMom Tue 22-Jan-13 09:48:48

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

AbigailAdams Tue 22-Jan-13 12:25:02

Dr Fine would be an excellent antidote.

I hadn't actually twigged slammers was a term Steve used to describe working parents. How awful. He has sunk even lower in my estimation <I am sure he is heartbroken!>

Well said scottishmummy.

smile @ "excellent antidote"

TunipTheVegedude Wed 23-Jan-13 12:31:52

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