In a world where young reality TV stars are sassy, sarcastic and entitled, how can parents raise young girls who are sweet, solid and grounded?
Linda Eyre is a parenting expert and author. Kabi Catalano is director of special projects for the Girl Scouts of Utah. They share suggestions on how to reverse the trend.
Problem: Parents and Grandparents
Solution: Make kids earn their “stuff” instead of just giving them whatever they want.
I think parents who have their kids pay or help pay for clothes, jewelry, electronics (the “I wants”) through jobs around the house or a reasonable allowance, does wonders to keep their daughters from getting caught up in that diva mentality. In talking with our daughter with four daughters of her own in AZ, who lives in what just may be the diva capital of the world, she says that she sees so many mothers jumping through hoops whenever their girls want something new to get it for them. Here is what she says: “Mothers [and grandmothers] often do this with good hearts. Now that my girls are getting a little older I see this entitlement attitude a lot and it usually comes from the girls who are waited on hand and foot by their parents. They are still really nice girls (most of them) but I think of their poor future husbands who won’t be able to keep up with them because they’ve been given so much. Such a tough balance because I know so many parents who just want their kids to have a good life, so they give it to them any way they can.”
Problem: The Media
Solution: Teach girls from a very young age to be critics.
Everywhere we look, on TV, in movies, on billboards and magazines there are sexualized images of females, from very young girls to women. Instead of just tolerating it or being disgusted by it, mothers and grandmothers can take the opportunity when they see things that are inappropriate to talk about what is right and wrong about what they see i.e. “She has a beautiful smile and it looks as though she’s having lots of fun but what do you think about what she is wearing, saying, thinking?” It will be a heads up for these girls to start looking at media with a critical eye. If we do this often enough with our daughters/granddaughters, we can give them a sense of what is appropriate and what is not, therefore helping them to be critics even when we aren’t sitting by them.
Solution: Set limits and be consistent.
It’s so much easier to buy it for them, do the work for them, give in to pressure but it’s so important to hold the line. One example is to set limits on cell phone use. Our daughter with teenagers with cell phones has them turn them in before they go to bed (otherwise the texting goes on all night). My favorite three words when my daughters came to me with “But Amy gets to go….,” or “But Emily’s mom just got her a new…designer skirt” was, “Well I’m so happy for Amy/Emily. BUT….in our family….this is the way we do it. They may hate you for it at the moment but as my mom used to say when I had to practice the violin for hours every day while my friends were all out playing, “Someday you’ll thank me for this.” And I do! We do need to be careful that we aren’t too extreme. It is important to know what is going on in their world which may be very different from what went on in ours when we were that age. It’s also important to have them help to decide on the rules and the consequences for breaking them. If they “own” the rules, it is so much easier for them to comply!