Swimming Upstream: Parenting Girls for Resilience in a Toxic Culture

Swimming Upstream: Parenting Girls for Resilience in a Toxic Culture

Swimming Upstream: Parenting Girls for Resilience in a Toxic Culture

Swimming Upstream: Parenting Girls for Resilience in a Toxic Culture

Synopsis

A guide to help parents teach their daughters to resist negative cultural messages. Never before have adolescent girls faced so many confusing and contradictory expectations. From a young age, popular culture teaches girls that their worth is based on their appearance, their ability to gain attention, and an ever-increasing accrual of accomplishments. With such unattainable standards, it is no wonder that many girls experience stress, self-doubt, and even mental health problems. Girls struggle to develop an authentic sense of self, even as they attempt to meet a set of impossible cultural expectations. Many parents feel helpless against the onslaught of negative influences targeting their daughters, but in Swimming Upstream: Parenting Girls for Resilience in a Toxic Culture, Laura Choate offers a message of reassurance. This book provides parents with a set of straightforward tools they can use to help their daughters navigate the trials and demands of contemporary girlhood. Choate draws upon years of research and counseling literature to teach parents how to instill the power of resilience in their daughters, including developing a positive body image, maintaining healthy relationships with friends and romantic partners, and navigating high-pressure academic environments. Based on cutting-edge research, this book contains the strategies that parents need to prepare their daughters with the life skills they need to resist destructive cultural influences. Though the journey through modern girlhood may be complicated - and even treacherous - this guide offers a user-friendly way for parents to help their daughters thrive in the midst of the negative pressures of modern culture. Practical and engaging, Swimming Upstream is a must-read for parents of girls of all ages.

Excerpt

If you were drawn to the topic of this book, it is likely that you are like many parents, concerned about your daughter but not quite sure of what to do about it. You look around, often shocked by what you see in current culture that is being directed toward your daughter. Every day you notice how cultural pressures encourage girls to look “hot and sexy” when they are too young even to know what this means. You walk down the toy aisles and see Monster High and Bratzilla dolls with their fishnet stockings, stiletto heels, and feather boas. You go to the girls’ clothing department and notice string bikinis with pushup tops for girls barely out of diapers. Then, as girls reach the preteen and early adolescent years, you see how they are pressured to be thin and beautiful and to look much older than they actually are. You browse the Internet and see girls posting provocative pictures in order to gain attention and fame online. You read about how sexting is on the rise in middle school and how common girl-fighting videos have become on YouTube. You see TV reality shows that portray young women as backstabbing “frenemies” who view one another not as friends but as competitors for male attention. And on top of all of this you observe that a girl is expected to accumulate a long list of accomplishments—to do it all—in order to be deemed a success. You worry that this means top grades and at least ten extra-curriculars if she is to compete for a spot in a top college. Oh, and girls can’t look as though they’re trying too hard; it should all come effortlessly. As you observe all this, you may wonder how today’s girls can survive without collapsing from exhaustion! How will they ever feel that they are enough? How will they ever meet these unrealistic expectations?

You know that these messages aren’t good for your daughter, but they are pervasive; everywhere she turns, she hears that these are standards that she must meet if she is to be a success. You feel as if the culture is pushing hard against you and your family, and you may even feel that . . .

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