Thursday, June 26, 2014

Girls On The Edge by Leonard Sax M.D, PhD

Girls on the Edge -- he breaks it down into 4 areas where are girls are being attacked and we need to really watch and help guide our daughters.

* Sexual Identity -- Our girls are being way over sexualized.  He discusses the difference between being sexual and sexualized.  Bluntly put, many our little girls look like hoochie mamas.  Many of us think it's cute that they wear clothing that makes them look like little adults...but is it going too far?  His argument would be yes, and that we need to be really careful how we not only dress our children, but the images they see of other women.  It does send a message that we need to be "cute" (at best) or "sexy" (at worst) for boys.  When girls dress for themselves, they usually pick much different clothing.  Is it ok to look nice, of course...but keep it modest.

* Cyberbubble -- Any surprise here?  Facebook and other social media is out of control for many of these kids, and it's damaging.  Cyber Bullying, comparisons constantly being made, etc.

* Obsessions -- Girls have a tendancy to want to be perfect.  Boys don't struggle with that as much.  (These are generalized statements of course.)  For boys, the overall problem seems to be increased laziness while girls are pushing themselves more and more to the edge until they fall off.  What is the result?  Massive increase of eating disorders, cutting, drinking, academic stress, and sports are just a few he names.  The ultimate issue here, though, is girls just not know who they they tend to cling to these obsessions to form their identities with potentially catostrophic results.  I'm a runner.  I'm the top student.  I'm thin.  I'm the party girl.

* Environmental Toxins -- Girls are starting puberty earlier and earlier -- so much so that doctors are now saying, "Yep, starting puberty at 7 or 8 years old is in the normal range."  Whaaaat?!  Girls who start puberty earlier have an increased risk for drinking, sexual promiscuity, etc.  Furthermore, they are at a higher risk for other health problems such as some cancers.  He makes a good case for environmental toxins that are invading our lives with some suggestions on how to avoid some of them.  

I read Boys Adrift a few years ago.  Loved it.  Looooved it.  At the time I didn't have a son but felt it would be an overall good parenting book.  I was right.  I found wisdom in his writing and the points he made resonated with me.  I decided I would read his next book, Girls on the Edge.  Afterall, I have daughters and liked what I had read about boys.  It took me until NOW to sit down and read the book.  And, again, I loved it.

The concept is this: Boys are girls are different.  They are facing so much more than we did because our world is changing.  Girls on the Edge addresses the problems facing girls...because, it is different.  What is the same between the boys and girls --

* They face different challenges than the ones I did (and my gneration)
* They are becoming depressed at alarming rates
* There seems to be a missing piece -- self-worth
* Somehow, we (our society) is failing our young people

But what is different is how boys and girls internalize these problems and then how they are acted out.  We seem to think that "fixing" something, or someone, is a one-size-fits-all approach.  Therapy.  Reasoning.  Et cetera.  In some ways, I wonder if all these theories that exist to "help" our wandering children are clouding our own vision as parents, grandparents, and adults who interact with children and young men and women.  When Samantha was born, I read a few parenting books.  It was so distracting.  I tried to follow the book and do what research recommended.  It was miserable.  I listened to the theories and advice of professionals, and in doing so, I didn't listen to the inner voice -- my own intuition and the Spirit -- that could tell me exactly what MY child needed.  Are we neglecting the individual child, different gender specific strengths and traits, and not listening to the inspiration we need?  Because if we do slow ourselves down, a lot of what he's talking about seems to be common sense to me.  I think as parents we get too rushed and we rush our children.  Someone else is doing this, and their kids are great must be good.  Let's do that too.  Oh, off to this next practice, dance recital, and special tutor.  You're not getting an A?  Let's "fix" that and get you to be head of the class.  How damaging is this?

So, even though Girls on the Edge IS another parenting book and DOES offer theories and ideas of what we can do as parents to help our young daughter grow to be self-confident, happy young ladies -- this also resonated with me because I feel he is perfectly aligned with my own spirit.  Does that even make sense?  What he writes and has researched, along with his own experiences with patients, seems to be more of a reminder that our daughters are important, need to be treasured, and that our job is to help them discover themselves.  It's more than that, but I really liked it.  And I haven't met a person, yet, who doesn't also really like his books.

Now.  Maybe I haven't found someone yet who hasn't liked his books because my friends seem to be like-minded.  One bit of controversy could be that he does believe that girls are inherently different than boys and should be treated differently.  He never says they should be given less, talked down to, set in their place, or dominated.  No.  They need to be approached differently, talked to differently, taught differently, guided differently.  I can see how some "feminists" would say this is unequal or wrong.  But since when has different been unfair or unequal.  My daughter, Samantha, has a severe disability.  I feed her.  My daughter, Callie, does not.  She feeds herself.  Is that unfair to Callie that I don't feed her myself?  My son, Micah, also does not have a disability.  He feeds himself.  I don't think that's unfair either.  It's common sense.  And to me, gender issues like this are common sense.  It allows both our sons and daughters to thrive when we allow them to blossom into the young men and women they are meant to be.  When we understand that they are different, and that is a good and beautiful thing that makes our home, communities, and world buzz as it should.

Anyway.  Off my soapbox...I could go on and on.  Last comment: I'm so grateful to be a woman.  I embrace it.  I don't want to be a man.  I don't want to think like him or be him.  I want to become the best I am meant to be, and that includes loving the fact that I've been extremely blessed to be a woman.  Because I am a woman there are some things that I will not have or do with which men are blessed.  But, because I am a woman there are some things that men will not experience or have.  It's not a bad thing.  It's a beautiful thing.  I learn so much from my husband and honor who he is as a man and loving husband and father.  Likewise, he honors my womanhood and finds joy in the things that I find joy in.  I have never felt like being a woman has inhibited my growth.  I know that there are ways that I'm not even aware of that BECAUSE I'm a woman, I've excelled...better than if I were a man.  As a girl my mother instilled in me that anything I wanted was possible.  I still believe that.  I also believe in the proper time to do all things.  And so, there may be things I want to do, become, experience...and I will wait until the proper time.  Is it because I'm a stay-at-home mom....because I'm a woman with that responsibility?  Absolutely it is!  Have a struggled with putting aside some of those desires until the time is right?  Yes!  Am I grateful that I AM a stay-at-home mom and have to put some of those bigger desires down for a season until the time is right.  100%.  And I will teach both my sons and daughters that they too are here to fulfill their own divine mission of becoming who their Father in Heaven has planned for them to be...and being male and female comes with different challenges that will help them reach that potential.

I'm off the box.

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