Friday, November 8, 2013

Raising Girls

Raising Girls, Steve Biddulph

Having read Raising Boys many years ago as well as other Biddulph books (The Secret of Happy Children, etc), I was pleased to see he has a book for girls out now.

For those of us trying to navigate raising girls, it’s a good resource. He identifies that girls today have lost 4 years of childhood peace and development that we once had, so our 18 is their 14 and our 14 is their 10.  Which means that for parents, we need to be addressing issues with our growing girls much earlier than we ourselves ever needed such information.  I know many parents find this a challenge. Of course, it is the same for boys; I am constantly surprised at the conversations I already having with my 10 year old son!

Biddulph divided this book into 3 sections. Part 1 is the stages of girlhood. I was pleased to discover we have already passed 2 of those stages so I only skim-read them, and concentrated on the 5-10 years and 10-14 years chapters.

There was one main thing I came away with from each:
  1. 5-10 year old girls need to be taught how to be a friend and what makes a good friend. It’s a very helpful thing to be pro-active about and something they need to learn to help them for the rest of their lives.
  2. 10-14 year olds – help them find what excites them, their ‘spark’. I found this a helpful idea to be aware of and earlier than I probably would have thought of it.
Part 2 deals with the five main risk areas for girls, which you could probably guess:
  • Our sexualised culture
  • Mean girls
  • Body image, weight and food
  • Alcohol and other drugs
  • The online world
None of these issues are new to any of us, they just present different parenting challenges for each age group. This whole section was helpful at identifying the issues.

The final part looks at girls and their parents, which has a chapter for both mums and dads. Both of these are helpful reminders of things we can do that are helpful and things to try avoid.

Overall, it’s a helpful book, it gives to some good ideas and walks parents through the challenges we and our girls face.

However, it has reminded me again of why secular parenting books are so limited. There is no overarching philosophy, no mind-set that drives it. It is just a collation of good, sensible ideas. It is not until we look to the gospel and find that we and our daughters must find our identity in Christ alone and that our value comes from how God sees us that we can be free from the messages of the world. That we are called to live in a way that honours him and so we raise our children to do the same. Without this perspective we have no grace, no hope and no true identity.

So by all means read this book and get some good tips and ideas. But remember the bigger picture of the truths you are raising your daughter to know. 

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