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Danielle Miller, educator, business
woman and mother, and Andrew
Fuller, clinical psychologist, will be
keynote speakers at the Federation
of Parents and Friends Associations
July conference. They reflect on
their areas of expertise --- girls for
Danielle and boys for Andrew.
Learn from their wisdom!
What kind of a girl were you?
Bossy. Busy. I was determined to expand
my empire from ruling over my little sister
to becoming "President of the Universe"
--- until I hit adolescence. My inner
dialogue then became darker and more
focused on how I looked. As I had scars
(I have a third degree burn) I became
convinced my body's 'flaws' would limit
my potential. How telling that, as little
girls, we believe we have fantastic powers
and unlimited potential, yet as older girls
we start to feel powerless and see our
currency as based on how we look!
It took me some time to reclaim my
What gifts do girls offer?
I find young women simply delightful!
They are honest (ok, I admit at times
they may be brutally honest --- like the
teen girl who recently asked me "So did
they have make-up back when you were
a teen too?"), affectionate (girls at our
events will literally line up to hug and kiss
me), and passionate. If you capture their
hearts, their minds follow.
I think as teens, girls in particular can
look so grown up and act so worldly, we
forget that they truly still need our love
It s tough raising girls --- right?
There are absolutely many challenges. We
know body image is a huge concern for
many young women; in fact surveys have
shown as many as 94% of girls say they
do not think they are as beautiful as the
average girl, and up to 25% say they would
like to change everything about themselves.
Binge drinking is a huge concern too ---
teen girls are the biggest binge drinking
demographic in this country.
The most problematic thing is that girls can
look as though they are doing well. They
are experts at putting on the "I'm all right"
perfect girl façade. Yet behind bedroom
doors, they may well be imploding.
The key I think to parenting girls and boys is
to reach out. Read what parenting experts
have to say (not just my book of course,
but get lots of viewpoints so that you
are informed), talk to the parents of their
friends. It really does take a village to raise
What is the single biggest challenge
facing girls today, and how might parents
I believe that despite all the progress
feminism has helped women make, the
ultimate glass ceiling still seems to be our
bathroom mirrors. Girls caught up in playing
the "compare and despair" game will not
reach their personal or academic potential.
Their inner dialogue will convince them that
despite all they achieve, unless they can
fit the increasingly narrow ideal of beauty
that they are bombarded with, they will not
be "worth it".
I love the fact that healing our girls
really encourages parents also to heal
themselves. Girls cannot be what
they cannot see. Our girls will not see
themselves as whole unless we as
parents see ourselves as whole too. We
"big girls" need to stop engaging in toxic
self-talk, lamenting the ageing process,
yo-yo dieting...we need to step up and be
role models for our daughters.
If you could give parents of girls one piece
of advice, what would it be?
Don't believe the self-fulfilling prophecy
that mothers and teen daughters are
destined to fight and drift apart. Don't
expect her teens to be troubled. Rather,
connect with her. Enjoy her. Teens need us
just as much as they did when they were
toddlers! Every stage of parenting has its
challenges but every stage also has joy....
see the joy now too.
Danni working with a group of primary students.
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