Last week we discussed Steven Biddulph’s book ‘Raising Boys’ and how boys can be nurtured into becoming open-hearted, kind and strong men.
As all men are not open-hearted, kind and strong, clearly we are not there yet.
In Steven Biddulph’s follow-up book ‘Raising Girls’ he posits, “Raising a happy, healthy, well-adjusted daughter from babyhood to womanhood can be a challenge. Girls need to be strong, self-assured, know they are loved, and can stand up for themselves and others in an exploitative world.”
Columnist Kerry Wakefield is more blunt, “Girls can be slow to grasp what can be a Jekyll and Hyde pubertal transformation of the nice boy next door. While girls are thinking about what dress to wear and who they fancy and what the mean girls are saying, the boys are organising the booze and indulging in promiscuous carnal cruelty and who they have a chance with. When setbacks such as violence and sex assaults occur, women are told to ‘#Reclaim the Night’, that they should wear what they like when they like and not let toxic masculinity dictate their behaviour. Which is a bit like sending Bambi off into the woods without mentioning, Oh look out for the wolves”.
Shifting the debate about raising girls to how to better raise boys is not helpful. Saying men’s attitudes have to change and men should treat women with respect is an admirable sentiment but until they all do let’s start with how things are, not how we think they should be.
One thing is not in dispute, raising girls works best when mum and dad are married. A father’s influence in his daughter’s life, finding out what is important to her, is an important stabilizing factor. Divorce adversely impacts girls’ sense of security and well-being. Rates of teen pregnancy increase dramatically among girls whose parents divorce.
The advent of social media only exacerbates this challenge. Social media has contributed to a significant deterioration in girls’ mental health. Social media in the form of cyber bullying has turned deadly for girls. Sexting is rife. Internet pornography is unavoidable. Online sexual predators are pervasive. Girls are constantly being targeted by tech designers who know how to manipulate their attention and make them compare themselves to unrealistic standards of beauty. This leads to poor body image, eating disorders, anxiety and even gender dysphoria.
As discussed last week, to function properly society relies primarily on two things – individual conscience and the family. The question is, ‘What role should the state play in ensuring individual consciences develop as they should and the family functions as it should?’
For a start, the state should be doing everything it can to encourage couples to marry and stay married. Also, as the old saying goes, “When poverty comes in the door, love goes out through the window”. There is much the state could do to reduce the financial pressure on families including income splitting for taxation purposes, subsidies for grandparents who look after grandchildren and putting an end to price-gouging by state governments of water and power costs.
When it comes to raising children – boys or girls, all roads lead to Rome – the family.