An excellent new book, 10 Things Girls Need Most: To Grow Up Strong and Free by psychologist Steve Biddulph, explores the trials and traumas of prepubescent and pubescent girls. The book targets parents of girls, however, it’s for anyone who wants to understand the difficulties girls of today face – our women of tomorrow.
Just as Biddulph’s book Manhood, aimed at fathers and sons, was an informative read for women (I gifted many copies to women to better understand their fathers, sons, brothers, and lovers), his new book offers illuminating insights for women and men of all ages.
For me, the book offers visceral insights into the state of the feminine in current western culture. Regrettably, it ain’t particularly pretty.
What are the 10 things girls need most?
- To be loved and secure
- To have time to be a child, and a chance to be wild
- To know how to make good friends
- To find her spark in life
- To have the love and respect of a dad (or a dad substitute)
- To have backbone
- To be part of the women’s movement
- To have a happy sexuality
- To enjoy the support of aunties, wise women, and experience a rite of passage to womanhood.
Biddulph spent over 40 years working with families. The book is well researched and filled with interesting, and alarming findings. In the book, Biddulph states that:
- One in five teenage girls is on anxiety medication, and one in twelve will develop an eating disorder.
- Mental illness in pre-pubescent and pubescent girls is at epidemic levels, partly due to their lack of engagement with older role models. They tend to turn to friends for advice and approval, mostly via the phone.
- Girls need to be encouraged to be wild from a very young age. By ‘wild,’ Biddulph means, free to explore themselves and their environment, physically, emotionally, and intellectually.
- Puberty is delayed in young girls for up to three years when fathers are more intimately involved in their lives – a well-researched observation that makes sense if you contemplate biological imperatives.
- Girls from economically impoverished families often suffer psychological disadvantages, e.g. not feeling worthy.
- Girls from highly achieved parents often suffer the same fate; not feeling good enough.
The unlived wild child – repercussions for adult women
Biddulph’s wild child observations struck a resonant chord with me.
What I know from working with women (through dreamwork and healing) is that if a woman’s wild child was repressed in her youth, she is likely to live it out in extreme ways at an age-inappropriate time. Then her wildness becomes destructive to her relationships, and professional life, and screws with her life choices.
If a young woman never breaks free of her parental cautions and restrictions: ‘kill the parent”, so to speak (psychologically, that is), then her ego-structure and worldview may become so pallid that she lacks the juice to engage with life effectively. Powerlessness and detachment ensue.
The unlived wild child, renders many women lost to themselves and their world. They may feel that their choices don’t matter and that they can’t take charge of their destiny and forge rich and varied lives.
As they step out to express themselves they can quickly fall out of balance because their wildness isn’t cultivated from an adult perspective. The “I just want to be free” syndrome.
How to reignite the wild child within
By accessing imagination, feelings, and desires in a structured way, and stabilizing and strengthening their nervous systems through meditation, women can rekindle their wildness in appropriate ways, no matter their age. In the process, they heal their girlhood traumas and repressions and reignite their innate power.
When tempered, the path to freedom restores inner strength and healing for an adult woman, and enduring faith in herself.
Here’s the Amazon link to Steve Biddulph’s book: 10 Things Girls Most Need
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