Monday 16 May 2011

Mummy, I like your boobies!

Can you believe that this is actually quite a common phrase in our house? One of my 3 year olds is obsessed with growing up and already she tells me she is a teenager and she cannot wait to be 5 years old. She often tells her twin that she is bigger and more grown up than her. Why she has this idea and where she has gained this want to grow older I have no idea. What lays ahead for me as her parent you may well wonder? I won’t lie to you; I am completely terrified of the thought of Miss M and Miss E, my beloved twins growing up far too quickly. I posted recently about how I think little girls are being made to grow up before their time. From the response I received to that post it seems I am not alone, many parents are worried about this very area.

Still very much my little girls!

When I got offered the chance to review ‘Where has my little girl gone?’ a new book by Tanith Carey I was made up. This book verifies that there really is a large contingent of parents who are scared to find their girls being overly sexualised at a young age. The parents appear to fall into a number of groups, such as those scared to say no to their kids, those who feel that not talking about things will protect their children, those who think it is right for their kids to experiment and that being too strict would drive the children over the edge anyway and those who feel their child should fit in with the norm. I am not too sure where I fit to be honest, this book has been a real eye opener to me and made me question much of the parenting that dh and I do, not in a bad way but making me aware there is so much more to it than I ever expected.

On the one hand I could be completely overwhelmed and decide to do nothing but that paralysis would help no-one, so actually what I will do is read this book a few times and take it all in. Making informed decisions is by far the best idea. I am very lucky that I have dh as a sounding board and we can parent together to make these choices of how to bring up our children and protect them from some of the bad parts of all the advances we have seen in the last twenty years or so. I would imagine this book would be an absolute Godsend to a single parent who is treading this minefield alone.

What I particularly liked about the book was the way that it was interspersed with practical ideas, things we can do to help our daughters (and really, I feel it applies to sons too) develop a strong sense of self and the ability to say no to peer pressure.

There was also a lot in there which made me look at my role modelling and how I am portraying being a woman to my little impressionable sweethearts. When Miss M tells me she likes my boobies (which like I said, she does frequently) she will often go on to ask when she will have some and can she have big ones like mine (her 3 year olds perspective is quiet different to mine!). My gut reaction would be to protect myself and explain away the boobs which are now saggy and nowhere near their youthful state but instead I recall that I have to teach her how to love herself whatever the future holds for her.

Nature may give her big thighs or massive boobs or a wobbly tummy (just like mummy!) and I have to let her know she is beautiful whatever, as true beauty comes from within and not because we fit a magazine image of how a woman should look. It is not enough for me to tell her to love herself whatever she looks like, I have to model that for her and thus when she grabs my tummy and wobbles it I have to smile and not worry. These small things that we do as parents and role models will make all the difference in the future and that does feel like a massive weight to carry but one that is worth it, wouldn’t you agree?

I have not finished this book yet, I have only had it about 3 days and I am half way through. Given the fact that I have a job, husband, house and 3 small children to tend to this tells you it is a very good book. I truly believe I will read this numerous times and I think the £7.99 is completely worth it. In fact I just checked Amazon and they currently have new copies of the book listed for £4.19, what a bargain! I cannot recommend this book enough. I think all parents should go out and buy 'Where has my little girl gone?' by Tanith Carey.

Let me share a few tips from the book that really struck a cord with me -
  • Don't diminish your girls by calling them pet names, such as minx and poppet (whoops, I am guilty of both of those), would I call a boy either of those names?  No, so I have just inadvertently sexual stereotyped them.
  • Be conscious not to be jealous of your daughters young body.  Do not allow them to dress in revealing clothes as they have a better figure than you and you might want to dress like that yourself.  No problem as yet, I have no penchant for Peppa Pig Leggings and a Dora top but I have always had body hang-ups, so good to be aware of this for the future.
  • Allow your daughter to take risks, sometimes things won't go right but that is a very powerful lesson to learn and sets her up well for life as an a adult.  Just be there to catch her when she needs you.  I really do advocate not wrapping your children in cotton wool and I am happy for them to experiment and try things (whilst I hold my breath of course!).
  • Tell her you like her, all kids expect to be loved but to be liked is a choice and it installs that special sense of worth.
  • Be upfront with her about the effects of hormones, puberty is a scary time.  Have the decency to be honest with her.
See, lots of good common sense advice in there and not a lot of fluff!  A perfect, easy read.

This is a review post.  I was sent this book free of charge for the purposes of reviewing.  I have not been instructed what to write and I remain honest.
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