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Raising Girls Steven Biddulph

raising girlsSteven Biddulph’s book Raising Girls is coming out next week. I suspect the bigger trials with parenting a girl lie ahead of me, and what I read about Biddulph’s book reinforces this.

The combined pressures of society, business and media on girls hammers home tough messages that favour body over mind. If I think about it too long I am horrified by the extent to which girl’s toys, programmes, popular culture role models and clothes have become so sexualised and body concious.

Biddulph says it has never been harder to be a girl. But how does he suggest parents deal with it? He suggests avoiding toys that suggest being a girl is just about looks and body shape and opting for practical rather than too girly clothes.  Nurture talents and interests and confidence and provide role models outside of the mother daughter relationship.

I think this is sound advice, I think I see the pay off in a daughter who is confident, creative and hates dolls, pretty and pink. But I also see the vulnerabilities in her. They’ve set in via school, though wanting to fit in with others and through pop music, which is riddled with over sexualised role models. For me that the missing link is teaching girls to deconstruct the media and society’s messages. Again, from what I read about the book, Biddulph point that many girls lack an understanding of basic feminism, the knowledge that it isn’t their fault, but inequality at play.

This avoidance of stereotypes and encouragement of role models and interests reminds me in many ways of the advice in Raising Boys. I really look forward to reading Raising Girls.




  1. Sarah Miles
    11/01/2013 / 4:51 pm

    I have the boys book as I come from a single parent family, only have a sister and went to a girls’ school, so I decided I needed some insight. I might have to get this one too, especially as it addresses the changes in growing up. Also, as a teacher, it is helpful in understanding my pupils….seeing as they can’t all be the same as my kids!

    It’s a tough world out there for them…

    • parentshaped
      11/01/2013 / 5:04 pm

      I used to teach Sarah I think it would be so helpful from that perspective. I also read Raising Boys to help me with my son, I find that just as challnegin, but for very different reasons! Thanks for commenting 🙂

  2. Liz Burton
    11/01/2013 / 7:21 pm

    I must get this book.

    It breaks my hear that now my daughter’s started school she’s no longer into Thomas the Tank Engine and trains and actually refers to things as ‘boyish’ or ‘girly’.

    Grrrr. Damn you ‘other people’.

    • parentshaped
      11/01/2013 / 7:26 pm

      I know exactly how you feel. I am never sure if it is an age thing or an other people thing, or a mix of both and a smattering of TV too?

  3. Hiya, I like this scrap book approach. I love that quote and have been attracted to those lists of rules around, but resisted because I don’t like being told what to do! I have found Raising Boys and Raising Happy Children helpful. I think he gets plenty of feminine input from his wife in this regard. Every little thing helps, I think X

    • parentshaped
      12/01/2013 / 10:36 am

      I completely agree, I think you have to make your own rules – i couldn’t bear someone else’s list would feel just as you describe! I think you hit the nail on the head with feminine, we need to celebrate what it means to be female too. Look forward to reading more and will check out Reading Happy Children!

  4. 11/01/2013 / 10:14 pm

    I’ve got raising boys, have used it as a reference for the past couple of years, look forward to reading this one but there is also an element of nature at play here. I have never gender stereotyped toys, but Pixie is the girliest girl you could ever meet, typically loves “playing mother” and wearing pink. None of this has been forced or suggested on her, but she embraced it without any say from us.

    • parentshaped
      12/01/2013 / 10:35 am

      Good point, and I too was wondering about this, there was definitely missing bits for me too in the argument and you’ve pinpointed one of them. I also remember reading something about how French mums teach their daughter’s to embrace femininity, grooming and appearance. I think it is important to celebrate femininity too. I look forward to seeing what the book says in more detail!

  5. 12/01/2013 / 11:23 am

    Raising girls is haaaaard! I worried constantly about the body image issue, pop music/oversexualised stuff. I don’t do make up and stuff and wasn’t sure how I could help her with that side of life if she needed. We have talked endlessly about it all, encouraged her to embrace everything and give her am much information as we can to allow her to make choices. I’m lucky to have 4 sisters who are all very different and older than me, so Bernard had a lot of female influences on her early years and I’m very very grateful for it! It takes a village to raise a child and that is particularly true of girls I think.
    I’ve ended up with a girl who ballet dances, loves beautiful clothes and weepy movies, but loves to mountain bike and read science fiction and will beat to death anyone who tries to squash her rights as a woman!
    I am a very proud mummy!!

  6. 15/01/2013 / 10:59 am

    My website is for mothers of daughters. I particularly love teenagers and I think that it is a time when both the parents and the teens need extra support. Supporting young people make the journey from childhood towards adulthood used to be given a great deal of time and energy (and there is residue of this in many religions) but in our culture in our times it is predominantly absent or haphazard. I love working with girls at this stage of life – but I am only one person, so by creating a website I am hoping to create a space where many women can share resources, support and ideas for assisting our girls mature into ‘whole’ young women. I am delighted that Stephen Biddolph has turned his attention to our girls and eagerly await his book too.

I'd love to know your thoughts!