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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Bringing Up My Girl

Four years ago I was about to become a mom...for the first time.  That means my world, as I knew it, would changed dramatically.  At a baby shower, my mother-in-law gave us a bib embroidered with important words on it.  Warning: No instructions included!  Isn't that the scary truth?  Despite all the advice we are given and books we read, we really don't know what to expect.  We knew we were having a baby and it would be a boy or girl.  But what did that really mean?  Our firstborn is a GIRL, but we still didn't know what would be in store for us.

Well, little did we know that I would have a new phrase, "Parenthood is not for wimps."  Not because being a mom and dad was difficult, but because it broke our hearts to see our little girl of 17 days in a very life-threatening situation.  Well, our little girl is healthy now, having outgrown the SVT.  Days can still be tough though.  Now we deal with all that makes a little girl a little girl.  Each day is a blessing, but that does not mean that our days are easy!

Bringing Up GirlsWell, there are now some new (because we all know there are lots of books out there) instructions for parents in the form of research, life experience, and advice for parents of boys and girls in the books Bringing Up Boys and Bringing Up Girls.  Bringing Up Boys was published years ago, and finally, Dr. James Dobson has written for the fairer sex...Bringing Up Girls.

I really liked the way that Dobson wrote this book (in his typical style, if you have read any of his other books, such as The Strong-Willed Child.)  There is plenty of research to back up what he says, but he shares it in an easy to read book.  

One thing that I read over and over again is how important fathers are to their daughters and for the future of their daughters.  Dobson included information from everything from hormones to bullies.  

One thing that Bringing Up Girls helped me to understand is that it is very important for us, as the parents, to tell our daughter that she is beautiful.  In the past, I had limited saying things of this sort, despite my daughter's outward beauty.  Now I am really trying to change that, letting my little girl know she is beautiful, while making sure she knows that it is the inner beauty that truly matters.  At three years of age, I don't think it is too soon for these discussions!

Like any book on parenting, it is hard to agree with all of it.  Some readers may be surprised by this, but I disagreed with his perspective on the princess phenomenon that needs to be addressed in every home that has a  little girl in it.  First, I will say everything in moderation...but when it comes to princesses I tend to be careful, but would never ban them from our home.  Even Christian marketing seems to have jumped on this with using the phrase, "God's Little Princess."  Sorry, friends, I'm just not convinced.  Dr. Dobson didn't convince me either.

Dobson did give some credit to those who dislike all things princess, but mostly portrayed these mothers as feminists.  I did like the following that he had to say (pages 121-122).
The better approach, I believe, is to carefully scrutinize and select that which will be allowed into the lives of our children.  
Our job is to teach and itnerpret for them what they need to understand.  They will learn farm ore directily from us than from 
storybook fantasies...Ultimately, mothers will have to decide whether or not to introcude their girls to this 
and other forms of make believe.  It si my belief that the good outweighs the bad in the princess movement, 
and it is certainly better than Bratz dolls or the adolescent world of Barbie.  

So for our children, we won't be having a princess birthday party, but we still read fairy tales and even own several Cinderella books and even a dress-up doll that was a hand-me-down that is well-loved.  We just don't want it to become a focus of all of our pretend play.  Thankfully, our daughter is happy to act out Jack and the Beanstalk and David and Goliath even more than Cinderella.

Dobson brought something up that surprised me.  He suggested not to allow boys (teenagers) babysit your children due to all of their hormones.  His thought is that you can't be too cautious when it comes to protecting your children.  I'm not sure if I fully agree with that.  I have a (much) younger brother just out of his teen years that I would be happy to let my children spend time with him.  

This is definitely an excellent resource for parents with many, many valuable lessons in it.  I have asked my husband to read it next, because I think its invaluable for fathers!  This may be a Christian book, but I think just about all of the information in it could be appreciated by someone that is not a Christian.  

I don't have to agree with every word in Bringing Up Girls to highly recommennd this book to any parent of a girl...infant through college, and maybe even beyond!  This is a book worth buying, or at least borrowing just to read it.

Thank you Tyndale House Publishers for a review copy.


Christy Killoran said...

Interesting. I read the book "Raising Cain" about raising boys a few years ago and learned a lot. I have yet to read a book about raising girls.

I think his comments about boys as babysitters are out of line.

Anonymous said...

Just out of curiousity, what's the problem with princesses?

Ticia said...

I can see his caution on the boy thing, but I think it's a case by case thing. As a general rule boys don't tend to be as good a babysitter, but that's because they're not interested in it.

On the "God's Little Princess" thing, we're teaching our daughter that, but we're going more with the actual view of what nobility were supposed to be, that you as God's Princess are supposed to care for others and so on and so forth. Of course, we also teach our boys they're God's Knights, and they love it. The funny thing is my little girl just wants to be Batman.

Anonymous said...

I have to put in my 2 cents about boys as babysitters. I did childcare in my home about 6 years ago. I had kids ranging from 6 months to 13 years old. The oldest boy (13), I had after school. I would have thought that Dr. Dobson had "gone off his rocker" about boy babysitters until I observed this 13 year old boy's behavior at my house. He would hover whenever I changed Niyah's diaper. She was 1 at the time. He even asked if he could change her diaper. I always said NO! He was not concerned about the baby boys that I had, just Niyah(the only girl). I wouldn't call this kid a pervert, but I would definitely say that his hormones were changing, and he was curious. Just as some teenage boys have a hard time controlling their hormones around teenage girls, they may have a hard time controlling their hormones around a young girl.
It is something that I would never take a chance on concerning my daughter. I do agree with Ticia on it being a case by case thing.

"FAITH" said...

Annette I read all 3 of Dobsons books, Dare to discipline, The strong willed child, and Bringing up boys,I'm sure you can figure Who my strong willed child was, and still is at times. : ).

Carrie said...

I actually just heard about this book and was going to check it out soon. Your review was really helpful so I'm excited to read it now.

It will be interesting to read the princess perception, because I am ALL for imagination and fairytales to go along with it. As long as it is balanced out with real-life, then I have no problem with my daughter playing the princess part. When she was younger I was MUCH more concerned with Barbie than anything else and I never bought her one or encouraged it. Thankfully she is older now (should I be thankful? haha!) and has grown out of it all.

I have written a few posts about it--but we strongly believe in daddy-daughter time and that it is a DIRECT corrolation to her self-esteem. I also believe that as a mother, it is extremely important to never speak negatively about ourselves because our daughters will do the same thing. Even if I want to lose weight-- it's always mentioned as I need to be healthier rather than I am fat.

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