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to think DSIS and DM are being ridiculous over girl guides/scouts?

(22 Posts)
unionjacksocks Sun 09-Nov-14 09:55:03

am a NC'd regular. Aware this is a sensitive area...

DSIS and DM maintain with very, very strong conviction, that DNiece should absolutely not do anything like scouts, girl guides, brownies, etc.

According to them, these activities are full of child abusers, and people who say "it's all changed a lot since the 1950s, there are CRB checks and the whole ethos has changed, and children should be in a better position to be listened to and protected now than in a society where children were seen and not heard and adults were handed authority without responsibility" are either naive idiots who just don't know how the world works, or are apologists for child abuse.

It's come up once or twice in the last few years because I've suggested it. I've spent a fair bit of time working with teenagers and uni age students who've done scouts/guides, and am impressed with the self-reliance, confidence, resilience etc. that I see. I think my Dniece needs some decent exposure to generally getting on with people, and particularly how to get on with other girls, because she is really not being taught this at home. She does lots of activities after school, but is encouraged to see these as competitive, and spends a lot of time talking about how she did brilliantly at X activity and how stupid/unmusical/ untalented/ unsporty/ nasty the other kids are. This is very sad in a 6 year old.

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Context so this doesn't come across as drip feeding:

My family is one where DM has very little social insight (probably has ASD), never worked, was brought up to judge her self-worth by whether an adult had praised her for being "good" or pretty", was never expected to have, let alone express, any sort of informed opinion; and later, judged her self worth by how many young men were inviting her out, or by how many of her husband's colleagues were leering at her. Given that upbringing, it's not totally surprising that she has no idea how to get on with people, and particularly, has no idea how ot get on with women, because she spends most of her time slagging other women off over their appearance or other percieved shortcomings.

She brought up my DSIS to judge her self worth much the same way. My DSIS has unfortunately turned out much the same way, though with the added complication that in the 1980s and 1990s, young men "asking you out" was a very different game with very different consequences. My DSIS wasn't given the personal skills to negotiate any of this, and thus found herself disrespected by the horrible young men, slagged off by the girls and teachers at school for being a tart, and disliked generally because she, like our mother, tries to relate to people by having conversations about other women's shortcomings.

i have ASD and am ugly. I had to find my own way, as was one of the people slagged off on a daily basis by DM and DSIS. Eventually I realised having a good life is through having a sense of ideal self and being true to it, and getting on with other people. I'm not perfect at this kind of thing, but I think it's important.

JustAShopGirl Sun 09-Nov-14 10:00:03

You may think it is important, but the child's parents get to choose her activities. sorry....

skylark2 Sun 09-Nov-14 10:00:39

YANBU to think it, but she's not your child and it's not your call.

(I'm a Scout skills instructor - yes, the child protection aspect of it is extremely strong and carefully applied at all times).

auntpetunia Sun 09-Nov-14 10:01:02

Just in relation to the scouts guides bit yanbu my da and dd are both in scouts and have been since age 6 best thing ever. Especially for my shy dd who is very confident in her group. My DS has been chosen to attend the next international jamboree in 2015 which is in Asia! He'd never get that opportunity if it wasn't for scouts. They sound mad and sad. But I don't think you can change them, and I doubt if nd would like either scouts or guides as it's not about being competitive.

unionjacksocks Sun 09-Nov-14 10:02:39

of course I agree parents choose DNiece's activities. Sorr for not making that clear.

I just wish that "mean world syndrome" and lack of social insight were not quite such important factors here.

avocadotoast Sun 09-Nov-14 10:04:08

Oh this is difficult.

Are there any local kids groups your niece could join that aren't Brownies/Guides? If it's the organisation itself that your mum and sister have a problem with, maybe there is another more "neutral" one to consider.

I think you're right though, it definitely sounds like your niece needs to mix with other kids in a non-competitive social setting.

redexpat Sun 09-Nov-14 10:06:38

I feel really sorry for your neice. Imagine growing up in that environment.

Id tell them that a they are fucking loons and b the people most likely to sexually abuse you is father, uncle and step father.

FrauHelgaMissMarpleandaChuckle Sun 09-Nov-14 10:08:01

It's really none of your business.

What does DN's father say?

unionjacksocks Sun 09-Nov-14 10:08:49

avocadotoast - unfortunately all the kids' groups that I'm aware of are based around activities that could be regarded as competitive with the mindset being (sadly) bestowed on my niece. My DSIS sees things that emphasize getting on with other kids, teamwork and camaraderie, as being hellholes of pushy mothers and nasty children.

I realise not my kid, not my rules. But it is sad to see a 6 year old being handed all the horribly maladaptive thoughts of the previous generations, when it would be so easy to do things differently.

LiviaEmpressoftheUniverse Sun 09-Nov-14 10:10:00

I wasn't allowed to go to brownies, in the 1960s, because it was 'common' and 'people like us don't do that'. The girl who lived across the road from me wasn't allowed to go either, but the girls from the estates did, so obviously, what my mother said was true!

I would have sent my daughter but they had a waiting list...
Her school friend went on to be a super-brownie, a Queen's Guide, and did some travelling and work experience type things with them.

I don't think sex offenders are likely to be a greater problem in brownies than anywhere else in life.

I do think you are right to encourage a child to have as many opportunities to socialise as possible, but as she isn't your daughter I don't think there is much you can do.

unionjacksocks Sun 09-Nov-14 10:11:56

DN's father defers to DSIS and DM at all points because he'd rather watch the cricket and have an easy life. He isn't really interested in Dniece. His own mother is equally batty in other ways, so he doesn't look to her for guidance. In the 15 years he's been around, DSis and DM have brainwashed DBIL into thinking that a generally positive, nice attitude is naive and stupid, and actually if you're really being intelligent and incisive, it entails being cynical, nasty and cutting about other people.

FrauHelgaMissMarpleandaChuckle Sun 09-Nov-14 10:17:11

Sadly, then, there isn't going to be much you can do.

rookiemater Sun 09-Nov-14 10:22:00

I didn't go to brownies or guides ( although I would have liked to) and I think I have turned out alright.

Personally I'd spend less time thinking about how awful your DM and DSIS are and focus on practical stuff for your DNiece. Can you have her over for sleepovers at yours where you can focus on being a good role model for her?

tywysogesgymraeg Sun 09-Nov-14 10:22:39

I'm a Brownie Leader. Guiding is a fantastic organisation for all the reasons you mention.

Would it help if you told her that the rules say that Leaders are not allowed to ever be alone with one girl?

unionjacksocks Sun 09-Nov-14 10:34:54

rookiemater - sadly, no - we live in a different country.

And DSis wouldn't let DN sleep over at ours in case ASD is catching... because apparently we're disgusting, naive, subnormal weirdos who don't know how to live life like normal people. We like books and hillwalking and music, and having dinner with friends and stuff... we aren't really into fashion and expensive house furnishings. It's just different ways of living life. I was just ranting on here because I had an abortive email exchange in RL. Will give up and say nothing, because there's really nothing to say in RL that will be of any use.

rookiemater Sun 09-Nov-14 14:51:38

Sounds like disengaging is the best option, sadly I don't think you will be able to change their minds about anything even though it's really sad to hear a 6 year old being so competitive about activities rather than just enjoying them.

FWIW I'm somewhere in between the two of your views. I believe it's healthy to take sensible precautions when you are putting your DC in the care of another adult that you don't know.

DS is at cubs , but I didn't let him go to the Beaver camp because a) he didn't want to and b) I had my concerns about the organisaional skills of the Beaver leader so was not keen to leave DS in his care overnight. That's not to say that I'm not enormously grateful that he gives up his spare time to run it, I just think he had underestimated the administrative element of the job.

Now DS is at cubs we know the leader vaguely, I have no concerns about him, but I make sure to volunteer at any events where they need parent helpers not just because it's the right thing to do, but so I can see how it's run.

Anyway you aren't going to influence them I fear, so you're best just to back off and stick to social niceties on your email exchanges.

bobthebuddha Sun 09-Nov-14 15:03:32

No, you are definitely not BU. There's clearly not much you can do to change their attitudes, but you can try and offer your niece a different view of the world whenever possible and if you can, you'll be doing a good job smile. Ignore the 'none of your business' crew. Interestingly my MIL has exactly the same attitude as your DM. Whenever she meets another woman she judges her first and foremost on her appearance and will come out with real unpleasantries behind her back. Yet she gathers women she considers less attractive to be her acolytes who will cater to her every whim. 'Friends' on a very unequal basis. It's perverse. I hadn't really considered how the upbringing of girls in ages past might have led her to this. Interesting!

kiritekanawa Sun 09-Nov-14 16:10:52

rookiemater - your attitude sounds very sensible re beaver/cub leaders, and if I ever have kids and they end up in scouts/guides, I'd do the same.

I think there's always been much more danger of activities or camps being shambolic because leaders don't know what they're doing, than of other problems re the adults, which might have been more of an issue in the past...

Bobthebuddha - I've had a good relationship with my aunts since I became an adult. Hopefully I can do the same for DNiece.

And yes, i think the "don't you worry your pretty little head, don't be like those ugly/nasty/bad girls, just be quiet and good, grow up to be a lovely princess with suitors asking you to dance, and a nice man might take an interest in marrying you one day" upbringing was enormously damaging. Thankfully it's been relatively rare in the generation born post-1970ish... though its poisonous effects continue down the generations a bit.

Shallishanti Sun 09-Nov-14 16:22:55

OP you are def NBU and I appreciate your concern re your DN, it must be horrid to see a child being brought up in that kind of atmosphere.
I think it will be v hard to change the beliefs of your DM/DS. One possibility- what about mentioning famous/aspirational female figures who were in the guides? there must be some they would admire?
It's hard if you are in a different values. You can give her books/films/other gifts which aren't focussed on appearance and acheivement.

kiritekanawa Sun 09-Nov-14 17:22:38

ShalliShanti - thanks. Do you have any ideas of books/films where the emphasis is on being compassionate, nice, empathetic, etc.? I have no idea - the figures i think of in these contexts aren't going to appeal to a 6 year old, and I was brought up reading books where the mechanics of personal relationships were conveniently more or less removed, to make way for the childhood daydreams (think Noel Streatfield etc - other than one bit in Ballet Shoes none of those kids ever actually had to be nice or understand other people...).

The other difficulty with providing direction is - there's absolutely nothing wrong with achievement. So everyone gives DNiece stuff she's interested in related to her hobbies (where she is encouraged to be competitively "like" the high achievers in the activity) - giving stuff related to hobbies seems totally fine to me, except that it doesn't do anything at all to address the complete lack of empathy, sociability and teamwork that is all too evident in Dniece's conversation, and is also picked up on by her schoolteachers. Unfortunately the home attitude to the schoolteachers is that they're just nasty/mediocre idiots who don't understand Dniece's level of talent. Sigh.

Shallishanti Sun 09-Nov-14 18:07:10

wow, difficult question.... (as my dcs all grown up now)
Charlotte's Web
Matilda
Jaqueline Wilson's books, my dds loved them, her characters are often strong girls who overcome problems and there is an emotional honesty in them as I recall
these are not familiar to me but it's a start-
www.the-best-childrens-books.org/Character-Education-books.html
I just looked on amazon for 'books about kindness', I think the problem with 'issue' books is that they aren't necessarily the best quality and so they backfire (no one wants to read a lame book)
why not post a question about it in 'children's books'

kiritekanawa Sun 09-Nov-14 18:13:55

thanks for that - will post the question. I agree about unfortunate degrees of lameness in some books.

Just for an idea of the mindset, unfortunately Matilda was seen as a story of the triumph of great talent over nasty thwarting idiots, by Dniece/DSIS, as opposed to looking at the relationship between Matilda and Miss Honey. TBH I think I'd have seen it that way when I first read it too...

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