Virginia Ironside's Dilemma: Girls guide?

This week a mother worries whether her daughter, who's just left home for university, will be imitating those misguided young ladies in HBO series Girls


Dear Virginia,

Since my 18-year-old daughter has gone to university, I’ve been worried sick. I’ve read about the new TV show Girls, meant to  be an accurate portrayal of young girls’ lives. It seems they’re expected to have loveless sex with boys desensitised by the pornography that has removed the link between love and sex. If I raise this with her she just says, “Mummy! I have never watched pornography,” but the new dead look in her eyes tells me otherwise. I want her to have a love life rather than a sex life. She won’t discuss it with me. What can I do?


Yours sincerely,


Virgina says...

I do think you’re letting your imagination run away with you. It’s not surprising. When a child leaves home for university, most parents are not only miserable, but also worried sick. They worry for two reasons. First, irrationally, they feel that worrying about every possible eventuality will keep the demons away. Secondly, they worry because it’s a way of keeping the child close, at least in their minds. Better to worry than face up to the awful pain of separation and realisation that the child is now beginning to fly the nest for good.

But let’s look at what you’re worrying about. Firstly, remember that Girls is American. And things that go on in the States are incredibly different to what goes on here. Anyway, even within the US there are different cultures and different attitudes. Indeed, there are some campuses over there in which it’s the fashion for girls to be virgins until they marry.

Then for heaven’s sake remember it’s only a television programme. It’s not real life. And everything has to be heightened and altered for television in order to make it entertaining. The series itself is billed as a “dramedy” – a mixture of a drama (completely invented) and a comedy (with situations exaggerated for comic effect). If your daughter were to go into politics you wouldn’t imagine that it would be exactly like The Thick of It.

Then remember that if you gave your daughter a secure upbringing and set her an example by implying that sex and love were linked – in other words, your daughter’s father and you weren’t constantly wife-swapping and swinging and bringing home unsuitable one-night stands – then it’s highly unlikely that your daughter will go in for that sort of thing either.

Of course she’s watched pornography – it’s impossible for anyone not to. But that might well not account for her “dead eyes”, as you call them. She could be short-sighted and too vain to wear her specs, she could be tired, she could be depressed or, which is the most likely answer of all, she could be bringing down on her eyes that kind of cheesecloth film when talking to a you, as so many young people do with their parents, which is a way of distancing themselves from anything you say. Particularly if what you’re saying is something to do with love or sex, highly embarrassing topics to discuss with a mum.

It’s not a sign of terminal debauchery. It’s just part of learning to be separate.

Readers say...

She’s a woman now

Millie, salacious tales of university bed-hopping are exaggerated. Some will be having loveless sex. Some will be having loving sex. Some will be having no sex at all. I know that it’s hard to come to terms with the idea that your daughter is now a young woman. Perhaps she is unhappy for a different reason? Provide her with a loving, supportive environment without judgment and without the influence of your anxiety and she may just open up.

Jessica, by email

Don’t burden her

You are obviously missing your daughter and vague imaginings are turning into real fears. Don’t let the fears escalate and don’t burden your daughter with them. There will be a lot of things going on for her in her new life apart from men and sex. Give her a break and back off. When you chat to her next, tell her your news with cheerful enthusiasm so she knows you’ve got a life and are not relying on her for your happiness. You can’t protect her from unhappiness, just let her know you are there if she needs you, and let her make her own discoveries about sex and relationships.

Jenny Jones, by email

Next week’s  dilemma

Dear Virginia,

Five years ago, when my then boyfriend’s mother died, I asked if I could have a Victorian picture of hers. I’d always liked it and we thought it was valueless but pretty. He gave it to me. Since then, I finished with my boyfriend – but we’re still friends – and because I’m short of money I took the picture to be valued.  It turned out it’s worth £8,000. Should I just sell it behind his back, or tell him about it – or should I split the proceeds with him?  I don’t know what is the right thing to do.

Yours sincerely,


What would you advise Yasmin to do?

Email your dilemmas and comments to Anyone whose  advice is quoted or whose dilemma is published  will receive a £25 voucher  from the wine website Fine Wine Sellers

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application Developer

£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Service Engineers - Doncaster / Hull

£27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Service Only Engineers are requ...

Recruitment Genius: Employability / Recruitment Adviser

£23600 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Employability Service withi...

Day In a Page

Read Next

South Africa's race problem is less between black and white than between poor blacks and immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa

John Carlin
Queen Elizabeth II with members of the Order of Merit  

Either the Queen thinks that only one in 24 Britons are women, or her Order of Merit is appallingly backward

Janet Street-Porter
Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...