Tanith Carey’s latest book is an excellent, eminently readable depiction of the sexualised landscape that faces our daughters today, accompanied by clear, unequivocal messages and advice about how as parents we should respond. Her non-nonsense attitude is both refreshing and uplifting; she gives parents hope and determination in equal measure as they set about guiding their daughters through the tween and teen stages of their lives.
Beginning with an exploration of the beliefs we hold as parents in respect of how we view our daughters’ interaction with the sexualised world around them – beliefs which we recognise as a parent, but which look extraordinarily naive when committed to the written page in front of our eyes – the book moves swiftly on to practical advice for mothers, fathers and schools. It is our joint responsibility to help ready our daughters for the world around them, and we can do this be beginning early, by seeking to understand our daughters at a deeper, more real level than we have perhaps assumed is possible, and by not being afraid to protect and prepare in equal measure. Intervention is not only allowed, but welcomed – by all, including, you will find, your daughter.
Ms Carey is quite clear that the best defence that our daughters have against the unhealthy, extreme pressures that they face to conform is their own self-esteem, and again the book is packed with practical thoughts for parents on how to help grow this: “Teach her to name her feelings”; >”Help her to find something she can seek solace in” – the advice comes tumbling out in clear, straightforward prose. Hard, sometimes shocking, anecdotes, such as the six year old girl who has recorded make-up tips on You Tube, are followed up by strong guidelines for parents – “Don’t allow TV into the bedroom“, “Turn off Bluetooth” – and a reminder to “Give her a healthy respect for the technology“.
Ms Carey’s premise is that we can and should do something about what we see around us, and our daughters’ well-being depends on it. Her conclusion is optimistic while not shying away from the reality of the situation we face: “In the years to come, I hope we will look back at this post-internet period in the same ways we once viewed children being sent down mines and up chimneys after the industrial revolution. Just as the unregulated labour practices of the Victorian era robbed those boys and girls of their childhoods, so is sexualisation and a free-for-all raunch culture robbing our daughters of theirs”.
If you have a daughter, read this book now – and act on it. Together we can make a difference in the lives of our children.