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Growing a Girl: Seven Strategies for Raising a Strong, Spirited Daughter Paperback – October 1, 1996


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Dell; First Printing edition (October 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0440506611
  • ISBN-13: 978-0440506614
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #710,528 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In the post-women's movement period of the 1990s, many parents, even those committed to gender equity, are "amazed" at the seemingly inborn differences between the genders. And most parents committed to raising their children free from gender bias give up when the kids are in preschool. Barbara Mackoff, in Growing a Girl, takes to task these postfeminist ideas. She stresses that, instead of focusing on gender, parents should see children in terms of their individuality, while at the same time wearing "gender glasses" and teaching their daughters to be aware of society's gender biases. Mackoff, a consulting psychologist, suggests the concept of "equalist" parents, who create equal opportunities for their daughters in a loving, supportive way. Mackoff gives readers specific, valuable tools for raising spirited, strong daughters and helps parents teach their daughters to enjoy being girls without limiting the opportunities that lie beyond society's gender bias.

From Publishers Weekly

It's no news that many self-assured, spirited girls lose their exuberance and confidence during adolescence. Mackoff, a family therapist, hopes to counteract this effect by arming parents with the means to help younger girls (preschool through age 12) develop and maintain confidence as they grow. The author?who conducts "Growing a Girl" parenting workshops?claims that the "biggest difference between girls and boys is how we treat them." Readers need not necessarily agree with that sweeping statement in order to appreciate Mackoff's sound specific advice on providing girls with positive female role models, encouraging girls in science and math and nurturing competence and self-reliance. Mackoff discusses why team sports are beneficial for girls, why parents should praise girls for accomplishments rather than beauty, how to keep girls safe without instilling fear and other pertinent topics. Key ideas are boxed at chapter endings, and non-sexist reading and software suggestions for girls are included. The text is softened with personal anecdotes about Mackoff and her daughter, though some of her own family rules may seem restrictive or petty (no Barbies, scratchy lace or bow headbands for her baby Hannah). Still, this well-researched book?Mackoff cites studies and statistics throughout?will make parents think twice about the messages their daughters are receiving from home as well as from their communities.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Few books have as much usable, action-able advice as this book has.
Jeffrey L. Schatz
She says that girls must be allowed to become the person they truly are, but that seems to apply only as long as their true self is not a "girly" girl.
mommyofone
It is a must read for parents and non-parents alike, especially women.
Jordan Brown

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

50 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Nature Mom w/ 2 children + EE & Management degrees on February 6, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The author has done a tremendous job of taking many experts' views of the "right" way to raise a girl, discussing their merits (pros/cons), and then giving her own recommendations. She includes specific information and tips for situations you're likely to encounter (from Barbies, to adults commenting on how beautiful your child is, to playground and friendship struggles). She doesn't come across at all with a "raise your daughter this way....or else..." attitude, but she does really get you to think about how and why you choose to react and how important it is that you understand your child even if you don't agree (empathy). A bonus is that many of the strategies apply to both boys and girls....and the chapter for fathers is truly wonderful (especially if you're unlikely to get the father to read an entire book). Also, unlike other books, this book takes you right from your daughter's infancy through teen years and beyond. It's a book you'll probably read over and over as your child reaches a new stage of development.
Bottom line: You'll learn practical tips and strategies to help keep your daughter's self-esteem strong from preschool through teen years and beyond. This book has been the favorite among my friends with girls. Best wishes to you and your girl(s)!
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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful By cocoaboat@earthlink.net on August 23, 1998
Format: Paperback
Recommended by the director of my daughter's preschool, I was delighted beyond belief to read this book. Most books (and many are wonderful) focus on the frustrations of being a young woman in our gender biased society, something we already know and unfortunately don't define for ourselves until later in life. This book gives new moms and dads a chance to recognize the dilemnas very young girls face each day and help give their daughters a voice, strength, opportunities and a better understanding of the culture around them. And even if you are progressive and smart and think you know how to raise a daughter, this book is a wonderful reminder of all the little things that make such a huge impact on a little person. A wonderful gift.
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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey L. Schatz on September 27, 2000
Format: Paperback
I find many of the instances of sexism that Mackoff sites are somewhat suspect and reaching. However I don't care one bit, as the advice she gives is EXTREMELY usable. She helped me make my own decisions on how to help my girl thrive in this world, with many applied strategies. I don't want to raise my girl to be a boy, or to be what I decide she will be, but rather to discover what she wants to be, embracing her femaleness and her plain old humanness. I would say that 80% of what she recommends is excellent parenting advice that would apply equally well to boys as well as girls. Few books have as much usable, action-able advice as this book has. And I do read quite a few books. I will be requesting all people who have an active role in raising my daughter (ie grandparents, and hopefully teachers) to read it. (FYI I am a man/dad)
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25 of 29 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 3, 2000
Format: Paperback
I recently became a parent and although my daughter is years away from facing some of these problems, I still think everyone with a daughter should read this book, no matter their age.
Mackoff provides thoughtful, well-researched examples in a clear and concise manner. I like the fact that she included her own daughter in various stories. She also provides great references for girl-friendly books, videos, etc that were a great help to me.
I also saw myself in a lot of these scenarios and could totally relate to what girls face today. We really are a product of our childhoods. I don't want my daughter to suffer through the same things I did or fall into the same traps as me and I think this reference will help me keep my gender glasses in place.
Highly recommended.
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27 of 33 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 4, 1998
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book offers good, practical advice on raising girls, and shows parents how to eliminate their stereotypes as they bring up their daughters. However, the author constantly urges parents to push math and science so that girls can get high paying jobs in traditionally male-dominated jobs. To me, this doesn't make a girl successful. It's fine if a girl's interests are in the math and science fields, but we shouldn't just expose them to these areas. Also, the author makes it sould like a woman who chooses to raise a family is from the dark ages. This life choice is not encouraged, and that's a disservice to women who want to make family the top priority in their lives.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By S. Dostal on September 24, 2006
Format: Paperback
I appreciated the author's honesty and candor in describing her thought processes while raising her daughter. My problem with this book is that the conclusions of the book are obvious. The author self-admittedly spent much of her time torn between the urge to fight gender stereotyping by encouraging her girl to be as boyish as possible and the realization that urging a girl to always be boyish is pretty much the ultimate rejection of feminine worth. This subject has been sufficiently hashed out over the last decade or so, and to me the conclusions of the book seemed painfully obvious. Raising children is a difficult and disorienting task, and I appreciate the author's attempt to clarify this issue, but this is old news.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By mommyofone on October 17, 2007
Format: Paperback
I am a university-educated, stay-at-home-mom of a one-year-old daughter. My husband and I find appeal in traditional gender roles and we have developed a system that works very well for us. Knowing that it would not work for everyone, I want to make sure we raise our daughter with a broad understanding of the possibilities this world has to offer. This book offers a few good suggestions in furthering that goal.

"Growing a Girl" is a compilation and summary of many, many studies, generously peppered with stories from the author's own extensive interviews. As such, there is no proof offered that following her methods will produce "happy" or "well adjusted" women. Mackoff frequently admits that there is a study to support any theory, so it's hard to know the quality of the scientific basis of her strategies. Her style is at times choppy, with many references, and I occasionally thought, "Ok, I guess you had to be there," because I failed to understand the punch line of the story. It is fairly readable, but offers little that is new or unique.

Mackoff's goal is to encourage parents to become equalist parents: "one who creates more equal opportunities for her daughter through loving exposure." This is not a book about Mommy Wars! In fact, the author addresses this topic only long enough to say, "I suggest that equalist parents become conscientious objectors in the Mommy Wars." I am also very pleased that the book contains absolutely no male-bashing.

Mackoff argues that girls are individuals and should be treated as such. They should be allowed to grow into their own person, unfettered by the expectations and agendas of their parents.
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