Monday, December 21, 2009

5 conversations with your daughter

Book Review: 5 Conversations you must have with your daughter, Vicki Courtney

There is a lot in the media these days about girls, how they grow up too early, they are oversexualised, and so on. I have ordered Melinda Tankard Reist's book Getting Real: Challenging the Sexualisation of Girls, and am still waiting for Fishpond to deliver it. While I am looking forward to reading it, I suspect I may well feel overwhelmed by the problems and not have any idea what to do.

This book, 5 Conversations, helps you with what to do. She helpfully presents the issues facing girls and young women, and talks to us as mothers as to how we can show our daughters that there is another way to go.

Her 5 conversations are:

1. You are more than the sum of your parts - a look at beauty, size, weight, appearance, etc, as well as the lies in the fashion industry and the media.

2. Don't be in such a hurry to grow up - some ideas on growing up, friendships, boys and dating. She had some good ideas and principles in this area both with regard to friendships and with boys.

3. Sex is great and worth the wait. She talks about the reality that most women will not wait for marriage and the implications that it has. Again she addresses the lies that society tell you about sex, and what they don't tell you about (eg. STDs, pregnancy, emotional attachment, etc). There was a particularly honest and moving chapter about the realities of teen pregnancy and the author's own experience after choosing to have an abortion at 17.

4. It's OK to dream about marriage and motherhood. It's OK and it's normal for women to want these things. She also addresses the misunderstanding surrounding how easy it is to have children later in life, ie. the myth that women really can 'have it all'.

5. Girls gone wild are everywhere - dare to be different. Be different by being servant- hearted and virtuous.

It is very easy to read and full of good ideas. Throughout it Courtney also talks to us as mothers, challenging us to think about the message we are sending our daughters in areas such as how much time we spend on our own appearance and how we supervise our girls. She also addresses how to talk to our daughters about our own mistakes as teenagers, and when and how to be honest with them. She also has a blog where she talks about each conversation and age-appropriate things to say for each one, ie for 0-5s, 6-11s and over 12s. (see these links: age appropriate things for conversation #1), for #2, #3, #4 and #5.

She concludes the book with these words:
If you practice the principles contained in these pages and lean on the Lord for wisdom, strength, and discernment, you will have provided your daughter with the tools to embrace God's truths and reject culture's lies. You can't force her to build her life on God's truths - she will have to make that decision on her own. ... God is not looking for perfect mothers to raise perfect daughters. He's looking for imperfect mothers who are raising imperfect daughters in an imperfect world, and desperately dependant on a perfect God for the results. (p257)

Well worth reading. 

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