Like many parents, the widespread availability of online pornography, the early sexualisation of children and the rise in eating disorders in young people are all areas that concern me greatly. I’m keen to keep my daughter protected without stifling her and I’m committed to giving her the tools to go out into the world prepared and educated so that she can lead the fullest life possible. I then want her to pass the same information on to her own daughters.
Tanith Carey’s new book Where Has My Little Girl Gone? has proved an excellent source of information in my efforts to get it right for my daughter and help prevent many of the problems I know children can experience - problems that can impact on their lives late into adulthood.
As IJ gets older and starts to spend more time online, when she develops an interest in make-up and starts showing an interest in boys, I’ll be picking up this book, because it covers all these topics and more.
It is the first hands-on guide for parents on how to protect their girls from growing up too fast and includes sections on:
- How to teach your daughter to feel good about herself
- How to keep the lines of communication open
- What pornography does to children and how to protect them
- Helping girls fight back again the pressure to buy
- How to help your daughter use mobile phones safely
- Drawing the line between make-believe and make-up
- Helping girls fight back against the desire to be thin.
It includes information on how to:
- Screen out damaging messages about body image and sex from the internet and media
- Build your daughter's self-esteem so she is strong enough to deal with the pressure to behave older than her years
- Say the right things at the right time so she is inoculated against the worst influences of the X-rated society
- Steer your daughter towards positive female role models, toys and hobbies
- The book also includes information on bullying, abusive relationships, sex education, friendships, sexting, age-appropriate dressing and finding good role models.
A selection of my favourite quotes:
"A rise in eating disorders, self-harm, depression, casual and meaningless sex, teenage pregnancy and under-age drinking is a side-effect when girls judge themselves only by their appearance and their sexual experience."
"While it’s true that we can’t shield our children, we can inoculate them against the effects of what they see by explaining, appropriately for their age, what is happening all around them. By helping girls to question the pressures put on them, we really can help them work out for themselves what is good and bad for them."
"As your daughter gets older, peer pressure will play an increasingly large part in the decisions she makes. And if we try to prevent our girls from ever seeing or hearing negative influences, they will never get the chance to work out for themselves how to spot – or cope – with the dangers. We also risk their becoming so intrigue that, once they are out of our control, they become eager to try everything we’ve attempted to keep them away from."
"We also need to ask some searching, and painful, questions about where our girls are getting the idea that they need to be waxed, preened, and primped. Is it from the media, or from us – or a self-reinforcing combination of both? As we became women ourselves, in the first media-saturated, appearance-obsessed age, the growing pressure on all women to look better and slimmer was gradually insulated by the proliferation of magazines, TV shows, and movies. We have to take great care not to offload our own insecurities onto our daughters, and break the cycle before it gets reinforced again."
At the end of each topic discussed there’s a ‘What you can do’ section with practical, useful advice for both older and younger children. Advice that we, as parents, can act on to help our daughters develop into the people they are meant to be on their own terms, not the person society is dictating they become.
It is an excellent book and I highly recommend it. It is down to earth, practical and full of advice that will see help support you and your daughters for many years to come.
I received Where has my little girl gone? by Tanith Carey free of charge to review. It is available from all good bookshops priced £7.99 and it’s worth its weight in gold.