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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.

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.

TeaMakesItAllPossible Tue 15-Jan-13 23:05:13

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

JugglingFromHereToThere Wed 16-Jan-13 15:42:30

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

TravelinColour Wed 16-Jan-13 16:14:57

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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?

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