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Slow Your Daughter's Sexual Identity

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This is the final article in a series on how to raise a self-confident girl in a post-feminist age. And it concerns sexuality.

tween girl applying lipstick

Dr. Wendy Walsh: While a woman's sexual power is an important ingredient in her overall self-esteem, and we have finally reached an age where the double standard has all but disappeared (thank God!), there are a few things that haven't changed. Like the fact that having sex is still much more risky for a woman than a man. We accept the deposits, so to speak, so we could also be unknowingly accepting STDs and pregnancy. We also bond through orgasm and the female hormone called oxytocin, so having sex with a man who won't be able to give care after the mating dance can be emotionally crushing. And the longer we can delay this whole process for our girls, the more likely they will be mature enough to navigate this arena when it finally comes. So how do we do that? Simple. We don't sexualize her.

In most areas of parenting, there is some wiggle room for individual family styles. We are an eclectic country with a wide range of values, morals, and communication styles. But there is one area that I do seriously believe is not up for discussion. Don't sexualize her. Period. Girls are not sex symbols. Girls should never be referred to as sexy. And girls should not be dressed like young women. They should also not be dragged into the entertainment or modeling industry to satisfy your unmet need for validation. Both those industries involve many auditions where they are more often told they are "not right" than right for the job. This hammers home the message that their external self is far more valuable than their internal self. This kind of brain programming in the formative years is very hard to shake.

Finally, girls who are rewarded more often for their beauty than their brain will go through life depending on that reward system. As parents, our vital role is to treat little girls as little girls for as long as possible and feed her mind. Tell her she is smart. Tell her she is kind. Tell her how proud you are of her for her actions, not her looks. That's the secret to a self-confident girl.

next: Fashion Alert: The World's First Sleep Suit
1 comments so far | Post a comment now
Kristi January 16, 2010, 11:43 AM

Great article. I totally agree. I’m a mother to 3 gorgeous girls & it scares me to think that the attention they receive for their looks may overshadow their honor roll achievements & athletic skills. I pray that they’ll take everything we’ve taught them & remember WHO they are at the core & not what they look like on the outside.

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