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Raising Girls to be Women

Maddie’s eight now, and we’ve long seen some Serious Talks coming down our pike at this house. It’s commonly touted that girls mature faster than they did when I was growing up, for a variety of reasons.

I’m not trying to discuss the theories behind “why” – growth hormones in dairy products, over-explicit and age-inappropriate media exposure, there’s quite a list of common theories out there. But I am hearing so much of the “fourteen is the new eighteen”, and “nine is the new twelve”, and I can’t deny that I’m now within shouting distance of age nine.

So I do what I always do in situations like this – I start reading.

I’ve read a slew of incredibly great blogs and articles recently, and I’d love to reprint them right here in one cozy spot so I can print this off myself and go back to them all at once whenever I need to. But I can’t, so I’ll link to them instead. Where to start?

How about with One Thing Your Daughter Doesn’t Need You To Say at Chatting At the Sky. I love this article, about how to raise girls to be leaders and examples without raising them to feel like they have to come across as perfect, and thus hide who they really are. It’s about how allowing your “real” self to hang out is sometimes the best thing you can do as a friend, and for yourself.

From there, Chatting With the Sky went on to write another brilliant one less than a week later – 12 Things Your Daughtes Needs You To Say. Things like, “I have hope” or “I’m sorry” or “be who you already are”. These two blogs from CWTS have really sat with me over the past few weeks.

Then, for something with a completely different flavor, there’s You Didn’t Thank Me for Punching You In The Face over at Views From the Couch. Here, she points out most excellently that there’s not such a short walk between letting a boy shove you on the playground “because he likes you” and letting a man beat you in your own house “because he loves you”. She takes a long hard look at that societal norm of “playground behavior” and made me really think through what I’d allow, and why, as I raise my daughter to know her own value and stand up for herself.

Back to the heavy-hitter column, there’s Raising Daughters In A World That Devalues Them: Seven Things We Must Tell Them over atWe Are That Family. It starts off strong, but bear with me: her list of things to make sure you tell your daughter (and she truly hears) includes: You Are Valuable; You Don’t Have To Believe What You Hear; and You Can Change the World. Again, a really incredible list.

Lastly, an article I just read today over at Essential Kids: The Forgotten Years of Girlhood where Steve Biddulph takes a look at the “lost” years of girlhood: when are they, and how can we get them back? Steve stresses the importance of ages 10 to 14, saying these are the years your daughter becomes the person she was born to be. He talks through some of the societal stress, and gives great advice on how to be there for your daughter as she tries to figure out this impending womanhood thing.

Like I said, we’re not so far away from these tricky ages, and I’ve been discussing this with my girlfriends, seeking wise counsel from older moms at my church, and praying. A lot. You may not be in my boat, or you may have this whole pre-adolescent thing all figured out already.

In which case – can you send me some advice?


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