I just finished reading Steve Biddulph‘s Raising Girls.
I remember a year or so ago writing how his first book, Raising Boys, had affected me, and I’m surprised, yet equally unsurprised to see how different the upbringing of the two sexes of the human species needs to be.
Obviously, both sexes need individual attention, to be heard and to feel valued within the family unit, but the way in which both children achieve this feeling is a bit different.
With my son, my biggest concern is about raising a good man. A kind, considerate man, who has compassion and quiet strength. He’s not showy or flashy, and can laugh at himself. Confident but not arrogant, and of course, nice to kittens. Mustn’t forget the kittens.
Finding the exact recipe for a good man is a little ambiguous, and I imagine it can be hit and miss, as there are so many variables throughout life. Like other stinking kids, for instance.
With my daughter, I want her to love herself.
Not in her thirties, like I have. I wasted so much time hating my body, or wishing I was like someone else. So much energy went into hating my body. Not to mention money spent on food that never got digested.
I want her to be confident in her teens and twenties, to feel valuable and beautiful on the inside and to feel worthy of love. I want her to feel cool because she is kind, not because she has the latest gear. I want her to be bold, not afraid, and to stand for what she believes in, even if no one will stand with her.
I want her to be strong and soft simultaneously, and to always see humour in life.
I wish them both to have –
One of the chapters that resonated so strongly for me was about self-esteem, and drugs and alcohol and eating disorders. I’ve really been mulling it all over in my head.
I’ve made no secret that I partook in a buttload of drugs in my time, and I’m neither ashamed nor embarrassed of the fact. I liked to see just how far I could push it, and I was a creature of excess. I had fun.
I hope to God that neither of my children ever try to have fun like that. The very thought fills me with dread.
According to Steve Biddulf, “Girls with an involved Dad have been found in many studies to have higher self-esteem, get better school marks, and are less likely to get pregnant early, or have problems with drugs and alcohol”.
In short, Dads are good, m’kay?
My parents are amazing people. They are both interesting, and intelligent, and good people. Although my mama did an outstanding job of raising two kids on her own, I had neither a strong family unit, nor was my father a role model in my life.
Is there a correlation? Shit, dunno. Maybe.
I don’t blame my Dad for my shit for one second. We have a wonderful relationship now, but it wasn’t always the case.
At the age of 21, I entered a room where my parents were having a discussion about their breakup. It was late, large amounts of wine may have been consumed and they were having a long over due heart to heart.
I sat quietly and listened as they discussed what went on for them emotionally and physically during their break up some 12 years prior.
There was a great catharsis for both of them, and I had a massive epiphany.
My parents, they are just people.
I wasn’t from a broken home or a failed marriage. I was born, from love, to two people who grew apart.
Two people with hopes, dreams, different personalities and upbringings and seperate histories.
Two people who were doing the best they could to get through the day, carrying the shit that their parents bestowed upon them, no doubt.
Anyway, I’ve been thinking about this stuff that Steve is saying and I’ve cast my mind back through the crowd I partied with. I don’t mean going out for a big night, these kids and I would not sleep for days at a time. Every week. For longer than I care to mention.
Of the ones whose stories I can remember clearly, I don’t believe any of them had strong family units. Single mums, absent fathers, living with grandparents, living out of home very young…. all sorts of instability. I’m not drawing any conclusions, not all single parent kids turn into raving pill-popping drug fiends. I’m just making an observation because I’ve been casting my memory back to a different time, with a different cast of players.
Not all marriages are meant to survive, certainly not the detriment to people’s happiness. Not all fathers will be present.
Life is not always a tidy affair.
Perhaps if we put this piece of information about young girl’s Dads being such a major part of a daughter’s development in a little pocket somewhere in our brains we can remember that our girls without good, strong, male influences in their lives may need a little extra support and love. That they may be more vulnerable to self-esteem issues, and in danger of pushing limits because they don’t realise that they are worthy and wonderful.
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Hooking up with the ever gracious With Some Grace so I can flog it on Friday with the best of them.
Wassup, Mama G! xxx