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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.

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.

LRDtheFeministDragon Wed 16-Jan-13 21:14:58

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.

LRDtheFeministDragon Wed 16-Jan-13 21:16:17

(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

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.

LRDtheFeministDragon Wed 16-Jan-13 21:23:40

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


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!

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