I have a big, beating heart for kids.

Though I wasn’t the type of young person who constantly wanted to cuddle babies, I’ve found fulfillment through child-helper activities over the years: babysitter, day camp counselor, mentor to an at-risk ten-year-old girl, coach and volunteer in the elementary and junior high schools.

So it doesn’t surprise me at all that I willingly became a stepparent, helping raise a girl and a boy whose mother had died.  That is, I don’t look back, even fourteen years later and think, “What in the Sam Hill was I doing?”

I know why I did it.  I like to connect with kids. Later I moved into the official ranks of dyed-in-the-wool parent of an energetic little girl who is fast becoming a young lady.

Although I’m fascinated by boys and the men they become, I don’t intuitively relate to them the way I do to my own gender.  When I carried my baby, I didn’t think I had a preference for its sex.  But when my husband cried, “It’s an Amy!” I felt relieved.  It was a girl.  Possibly a kindred spirit.  Undoubtedly an emotional challenge for the future.

I recall the shock I felt about ten years ago upon reading the book Reviving Ophelia  by Mary Pipher. Have you read it?  The author reveals stories from her psychological case work with teenage girls.  She comments on the social and cultural forces shaping our girls and poisoning their self esteem.

I read with a parental perspective (and therefore something just short of horror) about self-mutilation, depression, addiction, and other hateful behaviors girls fall into.  If the issues are any different in the millennium, I believe they’re probably more pronounced.  I’ve been reading about a younger and younger onset and intensity of these forces.

I feel it’s important to have all kinds of conversations about raising children – from the deep issues to milder challenges that could build into more complicated territory. I’ve chosen to focus on girls.  Keep an eye on my blogroll for a few sites that target raising boys.

I’ll be blogging at least three days per week (Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday).  On Wednesdays henceforth I’ll focus on stepparenting issues. The other posts will prompt more general parenting discussions.  I’ll cover a range of ages and stages, from preschool to college.

Please give me some conversation starters.  What would you like to talk about with regard to raising your daughter or stepdaughter?  Find the “register” link to log in your comments.

Mama J (Diane Fromme) is a writer, parent, and stepparent located in Northern Colorado.  For more information on her stepparenting book, go to www.dianefromme.com.

6 Comments on Conversations about Raising Girls

  1. MomInNC says:

    I have raised 2 sons to adolescence (ages 18 and 14) without much drama, tears, slamming of doors, proclamations of unfair treatment or really any big bumps in the road. My 3 daughters are going to be different matter. In the last 24 hours I have heard from my 9 year old daughter that I don’t love her as much as her siblings, listened to a tearful tantrum about why her sister couldn’t borrow an old ragged sweater that had been handed down from the oldest sister; I have also had my bright 11 year old beg to be removed from her geometry class so she can be just like the other 6th graders, even if it means repeating material she mastered long ago, seen her dissolve into tears of frustration when facing a simple writing assignment, followed by her production of an excellent completion of the assignment this morning at the breakfast table. A 6th grade girl’s self-confidence is a fleeting thing.

    I grew up as the eldest in a family of 2 daughters. My husband was the middle child in a family of 3 sons. Perhaps I am suffering memory loss, but I do not remember the level of daily drama and tears that we experience with our daughters. We have just moved across the country, so my children are having to adjust to many new things and are mourning the loss of their old school and friends, but the drama and tears were there long before we moved. Does our present society create or encourage this behavior? Did it exist in my childhood and I have forgotten? I have to say that my husband is more bewildered by the emotional drama in our home than I am. To him, it appears that our daughters use tears and drama to “get their way”, (perhaps because it may be more difficult for him to resist doing whatever it takes to end the drama?) To me, I am not sure they are actively choosing to react in any particular way, but the drama and tears just come out.

    Everyone got off to school today in a good mood. No tears or drama this morning, and everyday I hope this day will be a breakthrough in their behavior, especially for my 9 year old. I also have a 7 year old I have yet to mention. She approaches the world much as my sons did, but then again, she is only 7…we’ll see what the future holds. The only real insight I have gained into all of this is that is seems to all be much worse if they are tired, so I am making an effort to encourage earlier bedtimes for everyone.

  2. luvmybabes says:

    We call my 8 1/2 year old daughter, “drama queen”. I had her “in stitches” the other day as she was dramatizing the “need” for something that to me seemed menial. As she was going on and on, I simply asked her if that kind of drama ever worked with me. I asked her if I have ever been affected by or given in to her when she’s going on and on this way. Her response to these questions was the cutest giggling and laughter ever! She knew that her drama would get her nowhere, but alas, the drama continues.

    Yesterday, I asked her to do the part of her homework marked “extra”. She began by stating that she refused to do it and that it wasn’t homework. She cried and yelled, and then wrote the cutest story for the assignment.

    While she was in the state of yelling about the assignment, my husband and I tried to explain to her why it is important to exert yourself and complete extra assignments. We both brought up very good points, but it wasn’t until I told her dinner was about to be served and she wouldn’t eat until it was completed that she sat down and completed the assignment (in about 4 minutes time!).

    Hummmm, I wonder if any of our good points got through to her, or if it was merely the instant consequence? In any case, we’ll continue giving explanations hoping some of it gets through!!

  3. Mama J says:

    Thanks for your comments about drama. I will devote an entire post to this topic tomorrow!

  4. brianfromme says:

    Nice dialog. Thank you!

  5. skh says:

    Diane – Congratulations on your new project! I look forward to reading more.

  6. […] my very first post on this blog, I mentioned that I have a big, beating heart for kids.  Before I even had kids I signed up to be […]

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