Shortly after giving birth to my son, I invested in yet another parenting book (did I mention my somewhat unhealthy addiction to parenting books?) entitled Raising Boys by Steve Biddulph. In case you hadn't noticed, I'm not a boy and never have been. It therefore made utter sense that I would need some guidance on bringing up a boy in this world.
A couple of months ago, I got chatting to a lovely lady at a dinner party. I quickly recognised an ally and we began to swap stories of mothering teenage girls. She mentioned the book Raising Girls as having been a huge help to her and I thought no more of it. Until two days later that is, when she very kindly dropped her copy round to my house (I clearly gave her the impression that I was totally incompetent in my role as a mum to girls).
When I gave birth to my first daughter almost 15 years ago and my second, just 18 months later, it never occurred to me to purchase a book about raising girls. Being a girl myself, surely I knew everything there was to know about bringing them up as happy, healthy individuals? How wrong I was!
Have you ever come across something and wished you had been party to it sooner? About halfway through the book, I realised that this was going to be one of those occasions. I devoured it in two days and took away so many little gems that I wanted to document my top 12 and here they are...
12 Tips for Raising Happy, Healthy Girls
1. As girls get older, they need more of our time, not less. We need to show interest and be available.
2. We need to help our girls find their 'spark' - something which ignites passion and brings about deep satisfaction and joy. As she gets older, she will be searching for her purpose. Find out what she LOVES to do and find ways (and people) to encourage it - a skill, a commitment or a quality of character.
3. Help her to develop 'soul' ('the deep-down essence of a person - who they really are and what matters most to them'). Seek out people who you know will be good for her - people who your soul is drawn to.
'When she sees that her body in the mirror is different to the air-brushed and photo-shopped bodies in the magazines, her soul whispers: "I am me. I am beautiful as I am."'
4. Spend time outdoors, explore, let her see you trying new things too.
5. Contrary to popular belief, teenage girls need 9.25 hours of sleep in every 24 hours. (You heard it here first....or second if you've read the book!)
6. Chores are an important part of growing up, it's not about being a mean mum or getting extra help around the house. Don't nag but encourage and empathise along the way.
7. Talk about the three 'L's around relationships - Lusting, Liking and Loving. In a world where the media hammers the need to be sexy and desirable, we need to teach her the difference.
8. Don't be naive about the influence of TV - consciously decide what to allow her to view and avoid allowing TVs in the bedroom.
9. Your daughter will turn into you so be mindful of the messages you are sending out. Keep promises, be a good friend, relate to men, explain why you do certain things and talk about your values. She is listening. All the time.
10. Teach her how to relax. Your child can never be more relaxed than you.
11. Talk about sex, however embarrassing it is for you. Girls are often given the message that 'good girls don't like sex' - not true! They need to know that desire does not make them a bad person and that they will one day love it. Yes, really.
12. The world outside is stressful. Make your home a haven where she can find peace and safety. Structure and routine are an important factor in this.
And one bonus point especially for the dads....
13. Stop treating her like Daddy's Princess!
"Princesses collide with reality in painful ways, if parents don't help them rejoin the human race."
I cannot recommend this book highly enough. If you have a daughter, please go and grab yourself a copy. You will not be disappointed and I think your daughter will thank you in the long run....even if you do get rid of her TV and make her go to bed earlier as a result!
This post was originally featured on 3 Children and It