Thursday, January 24, 2013
A father's love can set up his daughter for life
Steve Biddulph says some generally sensible things below but seems unaware of the great potential treasure in father-daughter relationships: The "Daddy's girl" phenomenon. Very little caution or wisdom is needed where that exists
At a time when girls are under unprecedented assault from our increasingly sexualised culture, there's at least one very welcome change - we're finally waking up to the vital importance of dads.
Today's young fathers spend three times as long with their children each day - talking, playing and teaching them - as the fathers of just one generation ago. And if they do it right, they're a powerful force against the online porn, the girls' magazines, the ads and all the explicit TV programmes that are encouraging our daughters to grow up too fast.
Indeed, girls with an involved dad have been found in many studies to do better at school and have higher self-esteem. They're also less likely to become pregnant too young or have problems with alcohol or drugs.
For a girl, Dad is her personal ambassador from the Planet Male. If she has a good relationship with him, she's unlikely to settle for less from the other males in her life, or allow herself to be manipulated. Put very simply, psychologists have discovered that it's good mothers who make girls feel secure - but it's good fathers who are vital for their self-esteem.
As a father to a grown-up daughter, I've been through the challenges of raising a girl during these difficult teenage years.
And as a child psychologist, I often gave talks on dads; there's always a point where I see women around the auditorium quietly shedding a tear. Some are remembering their childhood with a much-loved and caring dad, but some are grieving for the relationship they never had.
Too many fathers have failed their daughters, whether because they were confused about their role, or just too busy, or - worst of all - not sufficiently interested.
Things may have improved, but some of today's dads are still just as much at fault. The daughters of these men carry a lack of fathering as a deep wound. In revenge, they're rude and rebellious in their teenage years, often sleeping around, taking drugs or abusing alcohol.
At the same time, the girls often blame themselves for the breakdown in the relationship, concluding: 'If Dad's too busy to have time for me, it must be that I'm boring and not worth it'.
A father who is less than engaged can also affect his teenage daughter's choice of boyfriends. As a substitute, she'll often gravitate towards older men - with regrettable consequences.
By definition, a much older boyfriend is more likely to be domineering, calling all the shots in the relationship.
Considering that a girl aged between 14 and 18 is still forming her identity, there's a strong chance that she'll put all his needs first and actually look to him to define her.
Poor fathering can even affect girls on a physical level. Although cases of early puberty - at seven or eight - are rare, it's now known that it can be brought on by the stress of having a father who's violent, suicidal, alcoholic or drug-dependent.
Teenage girls are searching for their own identity and can get quickly irritated by their fathers, especially if he appears critical of her and unapproachable
Bizarrely, too, early puberty can be brought on by having a stepfather. This is not because stepdads engender stress per se, but probably because an unrelated male in the home affects girls' hormones in ways we have yet to understand.
Very early on, a girl decides whether her dad (or stepdad) is one of two things: a source of safety and protection, or a source of danger and threat.
Her conclusion is likely to affect her relationships with men for the rest of her life. This is so important that lately I've come to believe that every father of small children should make a silent pledge to himself: 'I will never hit or hurt you. I will strive never, ever to frighten you.'
We men should always try to use a softer voice with small girls. Their hearing is more acute than that of boys - so they often think you're shouting at them when you think you're just sounding firm. Our physical strength, meanwhile, can be channelled to give delight.
A dad who gets down on the floor to play with his small daughter, being a horse for her to ride or a monster that she can defeat, not only reinforces his daughter's sense of safety but also gives her a higher capacity for excitement.
These early games will make her more likely to want to have adventures later on. In addition, researchers have found that little girls who play rough-and-tumble games with their dads are less likely to be affected badly by stress in the future.
If you show a toddler that you can be happy, exuberant and even silly at times, then you'll almost certainly increase her capacity to be happy as she grows up.
And if you ask for - and listen to - her viewpoint from an early age, she'll develop the sense that she's both intelligent and worthwhile.
There's no escaping the fact, however, that even terrific father/daughter relationships can come under stress when girls reach 13 or 14 and start developing into young women.
These days, fathers are far more aware than they used to be of the dangers of sexual abuse. This has led to a new problem that probably affects most dads: they start backing off from their teenage daughter and neglect to give her hugs.
Some fathers will even stop spending as much time with their daughter, or become irrationally angry with her - for the simple reason that she's starting to look sexually attractive.
This sends out a confusing, hurtful signal: 'He doesn't like me any more; he's weird and uptight around me.'
Some girls react by thinking they're at fault themselves; others try to turn themselves back into little girls again by acting cute and helpless rather than increasingly adult and confident.
Even if a father copes well with his daughter's changing appearance, he can find that without meaning to, he's frequently pressing all the wrong buttons and making her fly off the handle.
That's because, somewhere around the age of 13, a girl seems to become mentally unstuck. We shouldn't really blame her.
At this age and stage of development, her body is trying rapidly to rewire her pre-frontal cortex - the most complex part of the brain, which controls both her ability to calm herself down and to pay attention.
Meanwhile, the part of her brain called the amygdala - the centre of impulsive and emotional reactions - can take over in a flash if she's feeling pressured, distracted or stressed.
One minute, she can be kind and caring; the next, she can be thoughtless and self-obsessed. She may make promises but forget to keep them.
She can lose all perspective, become wildly over-emotional and cave in to undesirable peer pressure. This is normal - but most fathers find this stage very trying.
My advice to them is first to remember that your daughter loves you and would miss you for ever if you died. Second: bear in mind that she can often find you very irritating.
That's because you tend to criticise and find fault with her, and you do it at the worst times. How do I know this? Because in hundreds of family therapy sessions, convened to find out why a teenage girl is causing trouble, there's been one common factor: a father who criticises his daughter, starts fights with her and can't accept that she has different points of view.
The truth is that she's searching for her own identity, and acutely sensitive at this time to any of your attempts to control her. So when you lose it, she double-loses it, and everything goes haywire.
Daughters have to be treated gently. Accept that sometimes she's unhappy with you. Ask her what you've done wrong but don't try to defend yourself when she tells you - that's a male reflex, and it doesn't work with girls.
Instead, see if you can work out what emotion lies behind what she's saying. Is she sad (i.e. because you're going away again), angry (you didn't keep your word) or afraid (you drive too fast)? Then, even if you've been a faultless father thus far, try doing something radical: admit that you could actually change a little to accommodate her.
The biggest mistake we men tend to make when we're fighting with our teenage daughters is to use what I call 'you' accusations. 'You don't help around the house.' 'You're lazy.' 'You're not going out in that dress!'
'I' messages work far better because they take heat out of a situation by exposing our vulnerability.
For example: 'I was worried when you didn't get home at the time you agreed. I need to know I can trust you.'
This is not an attack, because it starts with 'I' and not 'you'. It invites a teenager to be caring, rather than to defend herself.
Even: 'I'm angry because the kitchen was a mess, and I had just tidied it up' is better than: 'You messed up the kitchen!'
Note that I'm not suggesting for a moment that you let your daughter get away with slovenly, dangerous or disrespectful behaviour.
Sometimes, for instance, children learn from TV and the way people talk at school that it's somehow cute or normal to be rude. If so, you'll need to teach your daughter that rudeness always wounds - and that if it takes hold, people will be bleeding all the time.
Talk the subject over with the whole family present, and get everyone to agree that no one talks disrespectfully to anyone else - parent to child, child to parent, child to child. In the face of teenage angst and turmoil, one temptation for many dads is to treat their daughter like a princess.
Fathers who are cash-rich but time-poor often buy expensive gifts and hand out wads of money; they may also arrange for others to do all the household chores.
The end result is a grown-up girl with an emotional age of two who thinks nothing of having tantrums if they help her get what she wants.
TSO, or terminal self-obsession, is a dreadful fate for any girl because one day she'll eventually collide painfully with reality.
The best cure is to begin imposing boundaries - softly but firmly - and to demand that she starts pulling her weight.
Finally, the father of a teenage girl must bear in mind that he's a male role model - at least to her. That means dressing well, smelling good and refraining from telling rude jokes in front of her.
Adolescent girls have acute sensibilities: even if they swear and tell gritty jokes themselves, they don't like to see their fathers behaving in a similar way. They're also hyper-alert to the way you behave with other females.
So treat all women with courtesy and kindness, and you'll help her set the bar high for the boys and men in her own life. Modern womanhood is tough: all too soon, your daughter will need to become self-reliant, clear-thinking, emotionally strong, good with people and responsible for her own life. A good dad gives her a head-start that lasts for ever.
Europe's Orwellian idea of free speech and a free press
Control is freedom, apparently. Hegel (the inspiration of both Karl Marx and Adolf Hitler) would agree. But Hegel was a European, I guess
Today’s totalitarian ideas are always disguised as righteous plans to ensure “fairness” and “social justice” and they often start in Europe. Then the US Democrats drool over them and scheme to sneak them into the US.
The latest in Europe is to take much more control over the media. German flagship daily the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung has a piece called: EU Advisers Wish To Monitor Media More Strictly.
A group of EU Commission advisers say, “Europe’s freedom of the press is in danger” and so Europe has to act. Right!
The advisers are calling for stricter state monitoring of the media. According to the FAZ, the group says, “Some media outlets should be financially supported.” And others not?
Anyone living in Europe following the media to any extent knows that Europe’s traditional mainstream leftist media are in dire straits. A number of center-left dailies have recently bitten the dust, and so we suppose they are now looking for generous handouts.
The FAZ writes that stricter monitoring by the EU state would “ensure pluralism and quality”. The group of advisors proposes that the “European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights should monitor freedom of the press and free speech in member states”. You see, today there are media outlets out there who feel their rights to free speech are being infringed because citizens are no longer interested in paying for their crap. Now the government should force citizens to pay for crap that nobody wants - through subsidies.
The advisors also say an “independent monitoring agency“ made up of scientists could be set up. The advisers say that “more pluralism must be achieved, especially in the online media“.
The advisory group is hardly made up of lightweight bureaucrats. It includes former German Justice Minister Herta Däubler-Gmelin (who once compared President George W. Bush to Hitler) and Latvia former President Varia Vike-Freiberga. Däubler-Gmelin for example is calling on Europe to require its member states to have “independent media panels that would impose fines, force counter views, or revoke media licenses”, and to make sure these member-state media panels “abide to European values”. Sounds like free-speech policing to me.
The advisers believe that “freedom of the press is threatened by political powers, excessive commercial power, new business models, changing media landscape and the rise of new media.”
The FAZ writes:
"One particularly large problem the advisers find is the creeping loss of quality in reporting, as Ms. Vike-Freiberga showed. Among other things, it arises from the new media like in the Internet where anyone is allowed to disseminate information. “For this reason the group also proposes that it is also essential for the state to support unprofitable media are essential.”
The panels also says that media should comply to a code of conduct and guidelines for publishing.
Don't mention the war: Censorship row as BBC cuts "racist" lines from classic Fawlty Towers episode
Amazing that they could tamper with anything so perfect. I always rather liked the Major. He was a very believable character
It is the episode of Fawlty Towers best remembered for the line ‘Don’t mention the war’ and John Cleese’s silly walk when impersonating Hitler.
The references have proved controversial before, but when The Germans was repeated on BBC2 on Sunday evening it wasn’t our European neighbours that the corporation was worried about offending.
Instead, the episode was edited to omit racist language – only for some viewers to then complain that the BBC was ‘airbrushing history’.
In one scene one of the hotel’s permanent residents, Major Gowen, uses derogatory terms to describe black people. It was included in the episode’s first airing in October 1975, but this time around the major’s words were edited out.
The scene involves Basil Fawlty and the major, played by actor Ballard Berkeley, exchanging their normal pleasantries before the conversation moves on to Basil’s wife Sybil and women in general.
The major tells Fawlty about the time he took a woman to see India play cricket at the Oval. He then says: ‘The strange thing was, throughout the morning she kept referring to the Indians as niggers. “No, no, no,” I said, “the niggers are the West Indians. These people are wogs”.’
Several years ago there were concerns that the episode would never be shown again because of the offensive words. However, recent editions of The Complete Fawlty Towers DVD, distributed by BBC Worldwide, have not been edited and included the segment that was cut by the BBC on Sunday.
Some fans took to the BBC’s Points Of View message board yesterday to say they ‘despaired’ at the ‘unnecessary’ editing.
One wrote: ‘You can’t airbrush history away and I doubt if anyone but the terminally thin-skinned could be offended by the major, a character we’re clearly supposed to laugh at rather than with.’
Another posted: ‘The point is that the major is a racist old bigot, incongruous with modern society – even in the Seventies. The audience isn’t supposed to agree with him, they’re supposed to laugh at him. The whole episode is about xenophobia in various forms – it’s social satire. I instinctively dislike the airbrushing of history.’
A third viewer wrote: ‘So how sad BBC you have finally succumbed and lost the guts to transmit the episode of Fawlty Towers “The Germans” in its original form. The major’s speech of his experience of going out with a woman to the Oval is one of the funniest things ever.
‘You edited it because it includes the W-word and the N-word. Let’s face it, the whole episode and much of Fawlty Towers is racist by today’s standards and misogynistic, but above all it is hilarious.
‘We are all grown up, you know. We, the vast majority of us, can laugh at this without being racists.
‘It’s about time you grew up BBC, and trusted your audience. We know what is acceptable and what is not and what is funny and why, and the fact it is of a time which is now long past. We understand context, the major is a figure of fun, he doesn’t whip up hatred.’
Fawlty Towers was written by and starred Cleese and his then wife Connie Booth. The Germans was the sixth episode of the 12 that were made and was voted number 11 in Channel 4’s One Hundred Greatest TV Moments in 1999.
The series has continued to entertain families since being made in the 1970s and was in 2000 voted by industry professionals to be the best British series of all time.
A BBC spokesman said: ‘We are very proud of Fawlty Towers and its contribution to British television comedy.
‘But public attitudes have changed significantly since it was made and it was decided to make some minor changes, with the consent of John Cleese’s management, to allow the episode to transmit to a family audience at 7.30pm on BBC2.’
Australia: Conservative Federal leader says Leftist Government's draft anti-discrimination laws amount to censorship
FEDERAL Opposition Leader Tony Abbott says Prime Minister Julia Gillard faces an election-year free speech battle if she presses ahead with planned anti-discrimination law reform.
And Queensland Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie has criticised the federal plans to streamline laws against discrimination, saying they would clash with state laws and could create uncertainty for Queenslanders.
Ms Gillard defended the draft laws as "most worthy for consideration" and urged people to have their say on the proposals.
Almost 600 individuals and groups have made submissions to the draft Bill, which will be scrutinised by a Senate inquiry today and tomorrow.
A wide range of critics are lining up to pan the laws, with employer groups and human rights lobbies warning the changes could see people found to have breached the law if they merely "offend" someone.
Others have complained the proposed laws give too many exemptions to religious organisations to discriminate against single mothers or gay people.
The Bill is meant to merge and simplify five existing laws against age, disability, race, sex and other forms of discrimination. But it includes some new forms of discrimination at work, including on "medical history" and "social origins".
The new laws also change the definition of discrimination to include comments that "offend" or "insult" someone.
Mr Abbott said the proposals would amount to censorship by the Government and were against the "DNA" of his party.
"We do not need any additional restrictions on free speech in this country. I want to make that absolutely crystal clear," he said while campaigning in Brisbane.
"Not for nothing are we called the Liberal Party.
"The last thing we need is anything that shuts down legitimate debate in this country."
Mr Abbott said the Government had been "hectoring" and "bullying" those who criticised it, including in the media.
Independent Tony Windsor said he was unlikely to support the legislation in its current form and said he had received a large number of complaints about the proposed changes.
Human Rights Commission president Gillian Triggs has called for changes to the Bill to protect the right to free speech.
The Queensland Council for Civil Liberties said in a submission to the inquiry that the Bill "repeatedly and unjustifiably encroaches on free speech".
The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry will tell the inquiry today the changes will make it easier for employers to be accused of discrimination.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.