bringing up girls
Dad and parenting writer, Kamran Assadi shares his views on bringing up girls in todays society.
As a first-time father to my 3 month old daughter Lily, I am naturally trying to find my feet on various issues and topics that arise within parenthood. The fact that my first child is a female throws all my previous opinions and values about raising a daughter - into a cloud of confusion and disarray. I’ve talked with my guy friends and them with me about how we would teach our kids and how we would discipline them, especially in terms of bringing up a daughter. We all think we know what’s best but parents will naturally make mistakes – however amazing we think the rules we make to guide our child in the right way, may be. Although I’m enjoying every moment of time I spend with my child and am in awe every time I see her, I’m constantly thinking about the issues I will have to deal with and talk to her about in the future. Issues such as boys, her sexuality/the sexual world, keeping her safe from bad people, what’s acceptable to wear at a certain age, teen pregnancy/sex education, teaching right from wrong, when’s the right time to wear make-up, as well as other topics. I really don’t want to be looked at as a father who couldn’t hone in his child or teach her in the right way when needed. I don’t want to fail especially if I can prevent it.
As boring and cliché as it may sound to you, I want to be the best dad I can be and I want to give my child the best start in life sprinkled with the right values and beliefs to set her on the right track. Yet as far as I know, there is no such thing as a perfect parent or a perfect child. I’m bound to go through challenges and obstacles that will bring me down and make me doubt myself, but what makes a great parent is the way they deal with these blocks and how they overcome it.
As a dad, when I think of children and their childhood, I think of protecting their innocence for as long as I morally can but yet trying to strike the balance of allowing them to be themselves and allowing them to enjoy their childhood in a positive way. You don’t know how overprotective you can be about your first-born until it happens to you.
Now when I take into account one of these aforementioned issues that I have been constantly thinking about for a while in terms of how I deal with it/get around it, overprotection of this beautiful innocence becomes the No.1 rule on my “Daddy Manifesto”. The issue I talk of is “When is the right time for your daughter to wear make-up?”.
The thing is that whether we like it or not, we are living in a digital age and society where the sexualisation of children is so creepy and sinister (in particular, girls). Our minds are subconsciously brainwashed with overtly playful and sexual images of women in several types of the media including billboards, music videos (It’s basically sex via scantily clad clothing/lack of clothing and erotic dance routines that are now copied in the playground), TV, newspapers and magazines. My daughter is being brought up in a society where shops sell padded bras to girls who have yet to grow a bust. And one that sees supermarkets forced to withdraw mini pole-dancing kits from their toy sections. It doesn’t really allow girls to actually understand what innocence is as this is all thrust into their faces. It’s not right! I thought I already had enough on my plate with parenthood and what it beholds, and issues like this make my job even harder. Everything’s diluted with this warped vision of sexuality from the get-go.
I wouldn’t want my daughter to prematurely start becoming an adult and the issue of when she should wear make-up is the first battle in the mighty war of the over-sexualisation of girls. I think that when it comes to playing dress-up and things like that, that wearing make-up is acceptable as they are only following their mother and/or other maternal role models they may have. In beauty pageants/competitions, it is really taken over the top to the point where little girls think that is normal and acceptable to doll yourself up as a clown. That’s the kind of environment that those surroundings create for the children involved – it is truly unfair to put that on them so soon especially if it can be avoided. It’s closed off and exaggerated to make those notions concrete in their minds.
I would want my daughter to stay as cute as possible for however long I felt was needed – I don’t need her tarted up like some mini-Lolita so soon. I would only accept it if she said “Daddy, I want to be a clown when I grow up”! Other than that, there’s no need for her to have make-up but if it’s to do with dress-up and encourages play then I’m more open to it. At the end of the day, I just want her to be herself and make her own decisions. I just want her innocence to be preserved.
Freelance Writer for the Huffington Post UK & MTV's The Wrap Up
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