14/08/2014 16:54 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

My Girl's Growing Up

Dad holds the hand of his young daughter

Do you remember when 'twerking' wasn't a word? It wasn't that long ago really, and then Miley Cyrus came along, did inappropriate things at the VMAs with a giant foam finger and a tongue that just won't keep still and now everyone's going on about it. What is with the tongue thing? She looks like she's trying to get jam off her cheek.

Whether you think her actions that night (and subsequent exhibitionist moves - after all, who doesn't want to know what a sledgehammer tastes like?) were grossly inappropriate, a display of her femininity or perhaps the worst episode of Hannah Montana ever, Miley Cyrus is a demonstration of the sexualised world in which our children are growing up.

People tell me that raising a girl is a lot different from raising a boy. In fact, they tell me it's harder, although my own mother won't admit it. One Tweeter even warned me that girls were 'evil'. Having grown up with two sisters, I know a little of what to expect. I know there'll be hormones, and tantrums, and then when she's a bit older there will be more hormones, and more tantrums.

And then there will be BOYS. I've already decided that I'm going to be one of those fathers who eyes my daughter's boyfriend up and down menacingly the first time we meet; y'know, make things really uncomfortable for him. I might even pull out the 'What are your intentions with my daughter' question if I see fit. It'll be so much fun.

But I think boys might be the least of my worries. This generation's girls are growing up with movie stars and pop singers exposing flesh at every opportunity, and - at the risk of sounding like an old man - I don't like it. That's not to say there aren't good female role models in today's society, because there are (Emma Watson and Jess Ennis-Hill are two which spring to mind). But they don't get as much exposure as many, nor do they expose as much.

How do you protect a girl who is growing up quickly from the sexualisation of women in today's society? Is it possible? Will I wake up one day and my innocent little girl who rocks her dolly and plays with her brother's trucks will suddenly be dressing in hotpants and crop tops? (Also, why have I woken up in the 90s?)

This should be the point in this article in which I give answers to my own questions, and spell out exactly what I should do. But I don't have any answers.


The thing about parenting is that it's complex, fluid, and every parent is basically learning as they go along. I don't want to wrap my daughter in cotton wool, but nor do I want to see her thrusting into the air during a music performance.


I suppose parenting is all about finding a balance between instilling in your children the morals that you feel are important whilst allowing them to live their lives and experience the world.

One thing is certain, though: she won't be wearing a crop top, like, EVER.