June 24, 2007

Book Review: Raising Girls

The second book I finished last week will probably only interest a very specific group of readers out there. The book is called Raising Girls-:Why Girls Are Different- and How To Help Them Grow Up Happy and Strong by Gisela Preuschioff. For as long as I can remember I have wanted a daughter. I strongly believe that raising young girls to be independent, confident, and emotionally healthy woman is an integral part in forming a better functioning society. The world is riddle with misogynist, patriarchal cultures that need a shot of girl power, and I don’t mean the cute phrase tossed around my advertising companies, but a more serious socio-political idea that woman need to play a much larger role in the state of the world, if we have any chance of salvaging a deteriorating civilization.

As a middle school teacher, I am realizing that teachers play a colossal role in shaping not only how girls see themselves in an ever changing world, but we can help young boys break their culturally ingrained preconceptions of what it means to be female. But I am getting off topic, because while I may be able to inspire, teach, and help the girls in my class become more free thinking woman, I have the most influence on my own daughter. That is why I feel that reading up on as much literature as I can, will help me become a better dad.

Having said that all that, Raising Girls is a pretty common sense book. She is not really saying anything that most people don’t already know. Her main point, a factor I feel is crucial no matter what the sex of a child, is that self-confidence is vital for developing healthy adults.

What was helpful to be about this book, was that she asks both parents to constantly examine their own values and ideas of what women should be like in society. From Barbie to Tom Boys, the author is continually asking parents to be aware of how society influences young girls, and she reminds us that we as parents are part of society as well, and thus must be aware of our own expectations for our daughters. She states that everything we do will somehow influence their identity in the future, from how we dress them, to the things we think they can and cannot do, should or shouldn’t do.

Another aspect of the book I found helpful was the fact that she reminds the reader that each child is a unique individual and no matter what influence a parents may have or like to have, we must study the child and find out who she is. Then it is our job to try and help her fully become the person she was meant to be, and not some forced version of the type of woman we would like her to be. This is obviously also important in the classroom.

She says,
The better you know yourself and understand your own anxieties, feelings and desires, the less likely you are to force your on children into a rigid mold or transfer your biases and anxieties onto them,

Easier said then done! There is an extensive list of ideas and questions that she asks parents to ask themselves about how the role of gender affected their own childhood, but I will leave that for another time. I would just like to say that although at first glance this book may only seem appropriate or necessary to parents raising girls, it could also offer some insight for teachers, or any body else working with young woman. At the end of the day, it could prove to be beneficial for any man trying to figure out what makes woman tick!

In conclusion, the book is a little on the touchy-feely side, but in a good way. I agree with most of what the author is trying to say:
In order to really find out what your child needs, just observe her, be attentive but not intrusive and offer her a wide variety of experiences.

I think I can handle that.

3 comments:

  1. i so dig hearing this...
    i know of the manhood and raising boys books, and had not heard of raising girls.

    it is just so lovely to hear you talk so passionately about these things...

    blessed be you and your family :)
    Leonie

    ReplyDelete
  2. It sounds like a great book. I have two girls - I'll have to pick that one up at the book store. It's fantastic that you've read the book and care so deeply about your daughter.

    LC

    ReplyDelete
  3. this reminded me of reading a review on a book named "packaging girlhood" ~
    http://www.frenchtoastgirl.com/weblog/2007/02/packaging-girlhood.shtml

    ReplyDelete