There was much consternation in the Household last night when my daughters discovered a book called “Princess Bitchface Syndrome 2.0” by Dr Michael Carr-Gregg sitting on the kitchen bench.
My ex gave it to me as a potential handbook for the difficult years ahead. Apparently you’re not supposed to let your kids know you have it.
Kerrie O’Brien wrote at The Sydney Morning Herald earlier this year: “Since starting Carr-Gregg’s book, I’ve been keeping the cover hidden: Princess Bitchface 2.0 is not a character I want to flag with my kids. An updated version of one he published in 2006, the extra component (the 2.0) is about the additional challenges young girls face in the digital age, as well as how parents can manage them. Written with psychologist Elly Robinson, the subhead reads ‘Surviving adolescent girls’.”
My daughters are NOT impressed by the idea they might be bitchfaces who need to be survived. The eldest took a photograph of the cover while I was out of the house, presumably to show her friends and say “Can you BELIEVE my mother has this book?”
The youngest is pretty dirty about it too and doesn’t think it’s funny at all that I’ve been calling her “princess” ever since.
My daughters aren’t princess bitchfaces … at least not yet. They’re the 70% Carr-Gregg mentions who are respectful to their parents.
The eldest is almost 14, and an introvert who keeps to herself. She’s not going to parties or anything like that. Her life is home and school and jazz band rehearsals and Scouts.
I mentioned last year that I was worried she wasn’t going out more. She replied: “Mum, there are two sorts of teenagers – the ones who lead quiet lives and spend lots of time reading in their rooms and the ones who are … too social … which would you prefer?”
Erm, OK, good point …
But who knows when that will change, so I guess my ex figured it was better that we be prepared.
I do worry about my lax parenting sometimes. While we’ve refused the eldest’s request for a tattoo machine (for etching actual tattoos, not applying fake transfers), there aren’t many other lines we draw.
Dr Carr-Gregg told The Australian: “We have much more money but we are time-poor and feel guilty. So we give them everything they want and nothing they need. In the book, I use the case study of a girl called Matilda – ‘Princess Bitchface’ of the title. Her behaviour is appalling. Why doesn’t her mother ground her? Because she’s scared she won’t like her. That’s not parenting.”
I’ve been rattling on about the pitfalls of modern parenting quite a lot lately. It’s my dinner party topic du jour.
My spiel goes something like this: When I was a kid we were scared of our parents. We did what we were told and we were in deep trouble if we didn’t. These days we’re scared of our kids. They tell us what THEY want to do and if we don’t acquiesce, we’re the ones in deep trouble.
I don’t think it was ideal that we were scared of our parents, but things seem to have swung too far to the other extreme.
And I’m not convinced it’s doing our children much good. There’s a severe #gratitude deficit. Anxiety is endemic. Kids are growing up with a sense of entitlement and a complete lack of resilence. I have no idea how they’ll survive in the workplace when they have to follow orders and complete tasks they don’t like.
I see a lot of unhappiness in their futures. Actually, I see a lot of unhappiness in their present.
Carr-Gregg notes that the mental health of teenage girls is “in crisis” and I wonder if it’s because we don’t give our kids boundaries any more, just let them establish their own.
I’m as guilty as the next parent on this score. I rarely lay down the law, other than demanding my kids are respectful and kind (I even fall down on that when it comes to the way they treat each other). While respect and kindness are good things to expect from my kids, I worry they’re not enough to survive – and thrive – in the big, bad world.
What do you think? Are we so caught up in being our kids’ friends that we’re failing them as parents?
Song of the day: Madonna “Don’t tell me” (oh how I wanted to be Madonna in this clip when it came out … my secret cowgirl was so envious of her look, it’s also a pretty awesome song, though admittedly not about telling teens what to do)