raising girls

(31 Posts)
itshowwedo Tue 08-Oct-13 10:29:00

I'm chatting to an office-mate who also has two daughters, and we were wondering whether anyone can recommend a book on raising girls? I'm asking here because I want something which won't raise my feminist hackles... Any thoughts? I'm aware that the world has changed since I went through girl-hood and I'm hoping to find a good reflective book to help me think through how things might be for my two.

FaddyPeony Tue 08-Oct-13 21:50:33

You do know there is an actual book called 'Raising Girls,' right? grin

This book. I liked it, and I think that the important thing to take from it is that the author is coming from a place of great concern about girls' mental health.

There are places where it does feel a tiny bit earth mother/father agenda-y, but I can forgive that; as with all parenting books, I just took from it what chimed with me. For example: how we speak to baby girls and boys differently from their earliest years, e.g.

To a boy toddler: 'Look at the BIG cow!'
To a girl toddler: 'Aw look at the CUTE cow!'

scallopsrgreat Tue 08-Oct-13 22:25:48

I wouldn't read a Steve Biddulph book if it were the last parenting book on earth. He did a web chat back in January and got a bit of a pasting if I remember correctly. Lets just say he doesn't have girls best interests at heart. And he likes to tell women how to do feminism. Always attractive.

Although they aren't specifically about raising girls but they do have interesting concepts in them are Cordelia Fine's Delusions of Gender and Pink Brain, Blue Brain by Lise Eliot (haven't read the latter but heard its good).

sinistersal Tue 08-Oct-13 23:30:30

I would recommend the Raising Girls one, I don't know why he is disliked on here, haven't seen the backstory.
It comes from quite a feminist place, promotes some feminist notions - he's dead against gender segregated toys, for example.

It's not aimed at self identified feminist parents, more the non-political but promotes a feminist friendly way of child rearing, which I am sure we all agree is a very good model of child rearing grin
I am happy to see that - I think the success of his book can only be a good thing for this cohort of little girls, if only some parts chime with parents or make them examine things from a different angle.

KaseyM Wed 09-Oct-13 08:08:28

Ah yes I remember that web chat. I always wondered why he got such a pasting. Felt bit sorry for him

PenguinsDontEatPancakes Wed 09-Oct-13 09:21:15

Web chat

The Huffington Post article linked at the end pretty much sums up my issues with Biddulph.

itshowwedo Wed 09-Oct-13 09:41:07

Yeah, I had half a memory of the webchat pasting - that and the Amazon reviews were off-putting. My office-mate here used the word "essentialism" (but he's a theorist, so what can you do?)... I think maybe scallopsrgreat is right and what I need is Delusions of Gender (which is on my Christmas list)!

I suppose I wanted to think about what it's like to be growing up now. Is there more pressure to conform to a feminine ideal now than when I was at school? I saw a thread yesterday in which the OP was advised to wax her 7 year old DD's legs, for goodness sake! Did that stuff really happen in the '80s? How can we help our DDs face that pressure? I'm put off my Biddulph's 'girls are hard-wired to be people-pleasers' line - I'm inclined to think we train them that way. And I don't want to.

Maybe this is the place, though, and there really isn't a book. Maybe asking for a book on raising girls is part of the problem and not part of the solution. Sigh... My two are small, but the teenage years are rather on my mind after some safeguarding training I went to - I feel very aware that I never had to negotiate the digital world, for example, as a teen and I wonder if there are other things I just don't know about.

SinisterSal Wed 09-Oct-13 10:26:51

That was the one line in the book that stood out as being off to me.

But his message was we can counteract that by upbringing. Overall, i was happy with the message of the book. It's unusual to find a mainstream parenting book which borrows so heavily from feminist perspectives. Even if it gets it wrong sometimes. It's spreading the message to a wide audience and if it chimes with some people who may not otherwise have sought it out then that's a good thing.
His first duty is to the girls, (being generous) naturally he is going to draw on sensible and psychologically beneficial theories and practices.

WilsonFrickett Wed 09-Oct-13 12:46:19

Delusions of Gender is 1.79 in the Kindle store just now - thank you for the prompt, I've been meaning to buy it for ages.

itshowwedo Thu 10-Oct-13 10:28:40

OK Sinister maybe you've sold it to me! After all, the idea is to think about the issues, not follow the advice slavishly. I shall read with my critical head on.

Ev1lEdna Thu 10-Oct-13 11:34:27

Wilson Frickett thanks for letting me know about the price of 'Delusions of Gender'. I have a student writing about gender differences at the moment and this will be most helpful. I have just bought it - like you I've been meaning to read it.

5madthings Thu 10-Oct-13 11:38:05

Oh Wilson thanks for that, I shall get it asap at that price!

WilsonFrickett Thu 10-Oct-13 11:41:25

No worries smile

UptoapointLordCopper Thu 10-Oct-13 14:11:27

I got my Delusion of Gender for 50p in a library sell-off. shock I haven't checked if they replaced it with a newer copy...

Steve Biddulph - cannot stand him. I've got his Raising Boys book and had to give it away. Mothers apparently cannot bring up boys because we haven't got a penis. (I should have shredded it instead - now it's sitting somewhere else enraging someone else. angry) I shudder to think what he says about girls.

SinisterSal Thu 10-Oct-13 14:52:07

<Sits back awaiting fat commission, itshowwedo>

LordCopper - what he says about that in the Girls book is that Mums and Dads roles are slightly different. No value judgement (or explanation either, tbh, afaicr) it was more of an aside.
There is a bit about privacy, saying if a girl is in (psychological) danger the privacy of her room could be suspended, he does state here that it's better if mum not dad is the one to come into a girls bedroom.

what else, from memory...

There is quite a bit about female relationships, with older girls, aunties and grans, how important they are. It is safer during the teenage years if role models are female but it's not prescriptive.

I haven't read his Raising Boys book, that's a bit harsh if he said that. <undestatement>

UptoapointLordCopper Thu 10-Oct-13 15:08:46

I don't remember too much about the book - in fact I won't be surprised if I'm actively trying to erase it from my memory - but I got the impression that he panders to gender stereotype. I want to know why a mother's role and a father's role are different if it's not according to some sort of gender stereotyping.

As far as I can remember he did say that women could not possibly understand the testosterone surges a boy goes through. I'll give him testosterone surges if he says that to my face. grin Are all men/women's experience identical by gender? How does one understand another? By observation, by asking questions, by having some sympathy and an open mind (and reading the Delusion of gender wink), not by preconceived ideas of what boys and girls are like.

Off to pick up DC!

WoTmania Thu 10-Oct-13 15:23:48

The main bit I remember from raising girls, from quite early on is that, according to him, boys need to know who's in charge and where they stand in the hierarchy of things where as girls are centred around relationships and need to know how they relate to other people.
After first reading that I felt stabby, and then I found myself thinking that surely those two things, essentially, are the same?

Anyway, I mistrust anything that advocates a different approach to raising the two sexes - it's akin to the whole girl or boy centred education idea IMO.

NoComet Thu 10-Oct-13 15:33:38

Having two DDs who are far less alike than some boy girl siblings I don't think one book fits all.

DD2 is exactly like Wo says , her whole world view is based on her and other peoples relationship to each other, she cares what other people think. She knows exactly how to get people to like her and how to make friends.

DD1 has, what might be thought of as a far more male attitude to life.

"Oh for fucks sake lets stop all this incomprehensible people stuff and get on with the job".

DD1 is 15, she's allowed to swear.

YoniBottsBumgina Thu 10-Oct-13 15:34:44

I think that blogs are doing a better job, these days, than parenting books - they seem almost outdated as soon as they are out, unnecessarily lengthy about one topic (which makes some people a bit suspicious!) and they have to pretend to have all of the answers in order to sell which makes me feel a bit cynical really. (Even though I do actually like a good "parenting book")

Delusions of Gender is fab and has definitely helped me.

There was a great blog post on MN blog of the day the other day about talking to our children about porn - Link here.

SinisterSal Thu 10-Oct-13 15:41:18

I can't remember too much about it either tbh so I probably am not doing a sterling job as defender...

There are chapters in the book about sexualisation, body image, and things like that which, for me were pretty nail on head. And particular to girls in today's world.
I dunno - it's like the conversations we have on here - what's stereotyping, and what's acknowledging a group's own particular experiences? For me the book falls into the latter category. I found it useful, and heartening. It's definitely pro feminist, and while he doesn't deny biological determinism and he doesn't emphasise it either, imo. I can live with that because the rest of the book outweighs it.

WilsonFrickett Thu 10-Oct-13 17:11:51

My favourite - and most used - parenting book is 'how to talk so children will listen'. I'd go as far as to say it's a lifesaver, but it's not gendered at all.

Sinister why did you think the sexualisation/body image messages were more pertinent to girls? I think the less gendered discussion about sexuality is the better (obvs with respect to girls and boys who may want to learn things in separate environments, I just don't think they necessariy need to learn separate things).

WoTmania Thu 10-Oct-13 17:28:57

How to talk is a fantastic book. Useful in everyday life with other grown ups too.

UptoapointLordCopper Thu 10-Oct-13 18:02:05

Is it possible that women as a group has a less than positive experience in many areas because we treat girls and boys the way we do?

"How to talk" is a fantastic book. It doesn't treat boys and girls separately. It acknowledges that everyone has feelings and hopes and fears, including the grown-ups and the children. It is just good. And WoTmania it works with other grown-ups too. grin

NiceTabard Thu 10-Oct-13 19:04:09

Sinister grin I get that it's been a while since you read it but can you remember more about this bit:

"There is quite a bit about female relationships, with older girls, aunties and grans, how important they are. It is safer during the teenage years if role models are female but it's not prescriptive."

Why is it "safer" - do you remember? That sounds odd.

I also have a knee-jerk thing about the "importance" of relationships with other females but not with males - that just seems weird to me. I always think it's important to have positive relationships with a range of people! I've never felt particularly inclined to have these sort of female-bondy stuff that seems to imply. As if men and women are different animals and get succour from keeping to their own or something!

NiceTabard Thu 10-Oct-13 19:05:16

I understand it's not you who wrote it though!

Might try a google.

Buggered if I'm reading the book.

I think the reason SB gets clobbered on MN is because of raising boys and a bunch of other stuff he said, prior to raising girls.

SinisterSal Thu 10-Oct-13 19:20:00

The early sexualisation / body image thing is definitely a feminist area of interest, and does pertain to girls.

the role model thing was, I think, in connection with inappropriate crushes distracting the girl and I suppose introducing a sexual element (even if an unformed adolescent type) into a relationship that should be about developing other aspects of her.
the female relationship thing was lovely, I thought. Aunties, in particular, to be a non parent but yet pretty parental, that chimed with me from my own youth, and uncles are not the same when it comes to getting to grips with periods and fancying Tom in 3rd yr.

A lot of what he said was common sense and it was lovely to see common sense from a feminist perspective being mainstreamed.

But I guess the examples I gave are all in the teen chapter. The other age groups are all non gender defined common sense. Now I'm riled with him. He pink and blued it for no reason just like a toy shop maximising profits -
This was my first time coming across him, didn't know what he said in the Boys book or anywhere else.

....But i still like him

NiceTabard Thu 10-Oct-13 19:23:53

Thanks for that! Sounds a bit odd to me, TBH. But you a. read it ages ago and b. didn't write it so I won't start wittering on here!

SinisterSal Thu 10-Oct-13 19:29:30

I must read through the webchat and see what people's objections are.

i can't believe it just struck me that yeah, he didn't have to be all Mars and Venus about it. Children are from Earth.

But. stubborn in my defence wink

wish I did write it. I'd hire better shills if I had

GoshAnneGorilla Fri 11-Oct-13 18:36:10

Have just bought Delusions of Gender and have vowed to finally get round to reading my copy of "How to talk..." smile

As an aside, hearing seven year olds being advised to have their legs waxed is the sort of thing that makes me feel like a lie down in a darkened room.

TheDoctrineOfSpike Sun 13-Oct-13 17:56:37

<really must read How To Talk, which lurks on my shelf>

oliveoctagon Sun 13-Oct-13 18:18:52

I dont treat my girls any differently to the way I would boys. I role model what I want to see and the children copy.

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