Here come the girls! How to bring up daughters

Rules and boundaries. White lies and love. Our guide to raising female teens

Sex, drugs, underage pregnancy, heartache, exams and alcohol: just some of the challenges dreaded by parents of teenage girls. But, help may be at hand, thanks to a group of private girls' school headteachers who next month will publish a book offering tips on how to raise daughters. However, experts are questioning the value of advice from those working in the sheltered world of independent schools.

The book, compiled by 200 teachers in the Girls' School Association, is entitled Your Daughter: A Guide to Raising Girls. On alcohol, the book advises: "How about a party with a punch that is rumoured to contain vodka? Of course it doesn't, but you wouldn't be the first parents to carry off that white lie!" On teenage parties, the association recommends a ratio of at least one adult to 10 guests. Tattoos, they say, can be discouraged with the bribe of a shopping trip instead.

Dr Helen Wright, the association's president, said: "As heads we are always giving advice about how to deal with tricky situations or just reassuring parents that if they're having difficulties with their teenage daughters, it's perfectly normal."

But not everyone believes that people such as Dr Wright, who is head of £28,950-a-year St Mary's Calne boarding school in Wiltshire, are best qualified to comment on most parents' experience of bringing up girls in Britain.

Lorrine Marer, who has made TV programmes on parenting, including Channel 5's Families Behaving Badly and The Teen Tamer, said: "There are those who are fairly cosseted and distant from the problems that occur with teenagers in a rapidly changing society. This then undermines their ability to advise parents. Surely it is not the job of a headteacher to 'lay down the law' about appropriate behaviour when the pupils are not in school. This is a parent's job."

Teachers are not the only ones to have aired their views on childrearing recently. Last week, a Yale University professor, Amy Chua, argued in an article ahead of the publication of her book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, that strict parenting rules used in Eastern countries are superior to "soft" Western methods.

Dr Chua, who is the mother to two girls aged 15 and 17, required them to be number one in every school subject except sports and drama, insisted they learn violin or piano and never let them play computer games or attend sleepovers. She came under fire in the US this week for some of the statements, including admitting calling one of her daughters "garbage". In her defence, Dr Chua said: "What Chinese parents understand is that nothing is fun until you're good at it. To get good at anything you have to work, and children never want to work, which is why it is crucial to override their preferences."

The IoS sought tips from some of Britain's best-known women on how to bring up girls...

"I would just say that encouraging a passionate hobby in pre-teens can help later on. I used to ride and I didn't get a chance to get into trouble as I was competing every weekend all over the country. That said, I got married at 21 to a playboy turned born-again Muslim politician twice my age who lived in Pakistan, so what do I know?"



Jemima Khan, Human rights activist

"I was quite severe with my daughter and set curfews and rules. It's important to have lots of rows, because rows come from caring. But don't ever inquire about your teenager's sex life. Once you've taught her to be responsible it's best not to interfere."



Joan Bakewell, Broadcaster

"Bringing up girls is rife with conflict and contradiction. Technology has accelerated so fast, giving access to information we didn't have. Pornography, for example, is the biggest online industry. All you can do is your best."



Annie Lennox, Singer

"These days parents don't really back up schools as much as they used to. That's a key problem in terms of providing authority in teenagers' lives.



Wendy Cope, Poet

"I hope that I will have a good enough relationship with a teenage daughter that whatever the emotional problem, she can come and tell me. If you keep the channels of communication open, then no problem is insurmountable, and you can get through it as a family."



Davina McCall, Broadcaster

"Girls are fabulous and complicated; I've had extraordinary luck with my mother. The trick is to make women feel confident and imbue them with respect for the world around them."



Martha Lane FoxOnline entrepreneur

"The worst thing you can do is give them a false self. I see it a lot in boarding schools where girls arrive independent and diverse and all end up the same: wearing the same clothes and having the same expressions. That's a catastrophe. What you want to do is encourage difference."



Camila Batmanghelidjh, Founder of Kids Company

"The only time I tried to give Emily some sex education she let me run on and then put her head on one side and said: 'Oh poor mummy, are you having trouble with daddy?' When she got suspended from school I was so pleased to have her home I didn't really mind, but that's probably not what you should say."

Jilly Cooper, Novelist

"We are very strict: no grey areas, changing your mind or bending the rules. Our 15-year-old is a good kid, and one of the reasons for that is we've been so strict. She has a certain time when she can go on Facebook; she can't go to sleepovers if we don't know her friend's parents."

Diane Modahl, Former athlete

"The first thing to say is hold your nerve, because light begins to dawn at 17, and by the time they're 23 it's possible to be firm friends. But mostly it's rules and boundaries. They're desperate to rebel, so supply them with rules or they'll find ways to rebel you don't want."



Esther Rantzen, Broadcaster

News
people Emma Watson addresses celebrity nude photo leak
News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
News
Boris Johnson may be manoeuvring to succeed David Cameron
i100
News
peopleHis band Survivor was due to resume touring this month
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
News
In this photo illustration a school student eats a hamburger as part of his lunch which was brought from a fast food shop near his school, on October 5, 2005 in London, England. The British government has announced plans to remove junk food from school lunches. From September 2006, food that is high in fat, sugar or salt will be banned from meals and removed from vending machines in schools across England. The move comes in response to a campaign by celebrity TV chef Jamie Oliver to improve school meals.
science
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashionModel of the moment shoots for first time with catwalk veteran
Life and Style
fashionPart of 'best-selling' Demeter scent range
News
i100
Sport
Tom Cleverley
footballLoan move comes 17 hours after close of transfer window
Sport
Alexis Sanchez, Radamel Falcao, Diego Costa and Mario Balotelli
footballRadamel Falcao and Diego Costa head record £835m influx
Life and Style
fashionAngelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Science Teacher Urgently required for October start

    £6720 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Nottingham: We are currently recr...

    ICT Teacher

    £120 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Group: We are looking for an outstandi...

    Art & Design Teacher

    £120 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Group: We are looking for an outstandi...

    Assistant Management Accountant -S/West London - £30k - £35k

    £30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: We are working with an exciting orga...

    Day In a Page

    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

    US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
    Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
    Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
    Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

    The big names to look for this fashion week

    This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
    Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
    Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

    Neil Lawson Baker interview

    ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
    The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

    The model for a gadget launch

    Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
    Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
    Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

    Get well soon, Joan Rivers

    She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
    Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

    A fresh take on an old foe

    Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering