Friday, July 18, 2008

self-help is sometimes not so helpful...

Last night I went out and met some friends for drinks and we began talking about what we always end up talking about--our kids. And namely, our daughters.

Before I had kids, when I thought of having daughters, I always thought of slumber parties and shopping, and cute dresses and dolls... Somehow, I blocked out the torture I endured and doled out to my "friends" during my school years. I'd forgotten that whole social cruelty thing that appears to be a common experience for girls. Maybe because it was so horrible, or maybe because I thought it was just me.

But talking to other parents last night about some of the social and behavior issues our daughters are having scared the bejeezus out of me. These girls are five and just entering school, yet they're already experiencing the drama of cliques. They gang up on each other, call each other names, intentionally leave each other out, and in one instance, a group of them (including my daughter) drew an ugly picture, wrote "U AR A MEEEEEENY" and left it on a friend's cubby. Luckily, she didn't know how to read.

Granted, many of them have been together through preschool for years, but as they get ready to enter kindergarten with many of the same friends, I felt driven to do something.

I put down my beer and headed toward the Barnes and Noble parenting section (which, thank goodness, is probably the only business in Seattle besides a bar that is open past 10pm).

I didn't have to look for more than two seconds (seriously) before seeing all of the books written about raising girls. Books about creating strong girls, books about dealing with everything girl, books about dealing with girl bullies, twelve billion books about adolescent girls, books about creating positive self-images in girls and so on and so on and so on.

I actually had to sit down for a second. What could've gone so wrong that we have so many books written about raising our daughters? It made it feel like raising a strong girl without serious emotional issues would be a next to impossible feat.

And then I looked further.

There were almost just as many books about boys. And also about potty training, sleep training, gifted children, children with special needs, single parenting, and even a book called "Are You a Normal Parent?" which I restrained myself from opening lest I develop yet another complex. What role does gut instinct play in a realm of parenting information this in-depth?

Overwhelmed, I quickly chose two books about raising girls, neither of which ended up having much to do with complex social issues of the five year old, but will probably be interesting (because I have so much time to just read for interest).

But I will definitely rethink my next trip to the self-help sections of the bookstore--I have never felt so inadequate.

1 comment:

Marketing Mama said...

I always want to buy every book in the self-help section because I think it means I will overcome those issues just by reading the book. I agree it's depressing. I'm not looking forward to when my little girl gets older for those reasons. :(