‘Aren’t you glad you’ve got a ‘parenting expert’ for a mum?’ I asked my kids after seeing the description of myself in the Mail’s You magazine this morning. Roars of laughter. They found it hilarious, always have done.I have to admit to a little discomfort about that title, because I think there’s far too much conflicting ‘expert’ advice out there already which can create too much pressure for parents. And too much guilt and blame. And fear. Ho hum.
So rather than adding to all that, I’d like to take some away, which brings me back to the Mail article this morning. It’s about teenage girls, the current hot topic in the media, what with Steve Biddulph’s new book, and discussions on the subject all over the radio and t.v. about the sexualisation of childhood and the pressures which especially affect teenage girls.
And don’t get me wrong, it’s about bloody time we took notice and got the discussion going, but what concerns me is the possibility that this may create a huge fear around the issue for parents, and how that might impact on actual relationships with actual teenage girls. Raised awareness is great, but fear, worry and anxiety don’t really help anybody, especially if it just gets transferred to our daughters.
I think fear works best when it’s translated into anger towards the culture our society has created for our teenage girls. Parents take action! Lobby for opt-in controls on computers. Sign the No More Page 3 petition. Sign lots of petitions. Write to M.P.s. Let’s have a voice.
And then, having dealt with our anxieties in a Taking Action sort of way, we can just get on with having a lovely time with our lovely teenage girls, sharing, trusting them and having lots of laughs.
We can shine a light on the culture for our daughters (and sons) as we negotiate it ourselves, so that they see it’s possible to change things and feel more empowered to take action in their own lives. Let’s not shine the light on them and hover over them anxiously, they won’t like it. It’ll just be one more pressure.
Oh and by the way, if anyone can think of an alternative to ‘parenting expert’ pleeeease let me know!!
You can read the Daily Mail article here.