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Sydney, Australia
My musings and meanderings on childhood - mine juxtaposed with that of my kids'. Everyday incidents and images from our life in Sydney turn my thoughts towards my own wonder years growing up in Bandra, Bombay, India.

19 April 2011

Five Going On 15

A neighbour is worried about her three-year-old daughter’s favourite books: the Fancy Nancy series. Based on the creation of Jane O’Connor and Robin Preiss Glasser, they’re all the rage in the States; on the New York Times Bestseller list and everything.

But said neighbour is not so sure about the messages they send out. As the name suggests, these books are about precocious, precious Nancy who likes everything to be glamorous and gorgeous. She’s all bows and boas, feathers and fashion, tea-parties and tiaras. She also has a penchant for fancy French words like merci, magnifique, mais oui!

To give you an example, in Fancy Nancy and the Sensational Babysitter, Nancy makes an “agenda”:
“First we’ll play with dolls.
Then we can play dress up.
Or maybe Alex will bring some fashion magazines.
We can look through them and pick our favourite ensembles.
(That’s a fancy word for outfits.)”

Frivolous fun? Or subliminal ideology?

As the mother, I’m well aware of the adult world my daughter is growing up in – I feel I’m swimming against a tide of Bratz dolls and cherry lip-gloss. Caitlyn is only three-and-a-half, so I have full control over what she reads/eats/plays with. For now. But what happens once she goes to ‘big school’ and peer pressure kicks in? When she demands to do what her friends are doing – and I don’t want her to?

I could go on and on about the padded bras targeting eight-year-olds who have mosquito bites for breasts, princess theme parties with facials and foot spas, tween magazines talking about kissing... It’s all there on tap for our daughters to drink in. Modern living, we sigh! But think back on your own childhood. Didn't you also have 'grown up' moments?

When I was a little girl, I remember feeling sooo excited when I was allowed to do ‘Big Girl’ stuff. I used to watch in wonder as my mum got her hair styled at a salon; I’d be thrilled to bits when my cousin Charmaine painted my fingernails during school holidays; I would totter around on my mum’s “tick-tock” shoes, I would be absolutely chuffed at being allowed to wear make-up (the more garish, the better!) for school concerts...

Did it make me grow up too fast? Did I act like I was five going on fifteen? In a word, no. These ‘adult-like experiences’ were few and far between. We were not bombarded with sexy music videos (MTV, what’s that?) and ads for tween make-up. Heck, I didn’t even know what the word ‘sexy’ meant until I was 13.

Which brings me to my point: As a parent, how do you know when it’s too much, too soon? How do you know where to draw the line??

I often tell myself this – repeat after me: If you think it’s wrong, it probably is. If you’re uncomfortable with something your child wants to do, say No. N-O. And mean it. You’re the parent. You know better. Of course your daughter will try to brow-beat you: “It’s not fair!” Blackmail and bribes will be resorted to. But I’m sure she’ll thank you when she’s 20.

What do you think is responsible for our daughters growing up too fast, too soon? Do you think it’s fair to blame society (the media, consumerism, modern living) or should we hold the parents accountable? How do you tackle your “daughter dilemmas” in your household?

1 comment:

  1. Try reasoning with a seven yr old who wants to wear clothes that I think are too suggestive! She loves Miley Cyrus and wants to act and dress like her. All her friends are doing it, so she's verrry upset when I say no. Thanks for reminding me that I need to stand my ground.


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