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Singing Sad Songs Over 8-Year-Old Daughter's
Obsession with Spice Girls

QUESTION: My husband and I have decided that we will not allow our 8-year-old daughter to own a Spice Girls CD. I probably don't have to tell you that they have a very naughty image. It is unfortunate that this image is being marketed to girls and boys in my daughter's age group, but our daughter and her friends are still fascinated with them. Just last night our daughter was trying to find the Spice Girls Website so she could answer a quiz and find out which one she is most like. That is exactly the kind of thinking I don't want from her.

ANSWER: Clearly, being barred from owning a Spice Girls CD is not stopping your daughter's fascination with the phenomenon -- quite the opposite. By voicing only negativity, you could encourage her to identify with the very thing you are railing against. Consider taking a more curious and less reactive approach.

It can be difficult to see a healthy outcome through fear-colored glasses, but consider your past, and separate fear-driven reaction from reality-based concern. Start by talking with your husband or a friend about your worst fears -- you may be projecting catastrophe where it doesn't exist. Are you expecting scenarios in your childhood to repeat themselves in hers? What do these "naughty" girls symbolize? Did you experience a tumultuous adolescence? Do you fear your daughter's development into womanhood?

Seek to understand the nature of your daughter's attraction to the Spice Girls. If you control with no attempt to understand her, you're likely to cause her to feel misunderstood -- so try to approach the subject more neutrally. Let your daughter know what you think, but also ask her to explain what she likes about the group. Don't argue; simply listen. You will be establishing a safe atmosphere for discourse. Accept her views, even though you don't agree with them.

Talk with other moms about the subject. The "Girl Power" that the Spice Girls are known for may have some redeeming quality that you will be able to support -- which could provide an emotional bridge for your daughter and you. It is not too early to create these kinds of bridges, instead of walls of misunderstanding that may later shut you out of each other's lives.


Gayle Peterson, MSSW, LCSW, PhD is a family therapist specializing in prenatal and family development. She trains professionals in her prenatal counseling model and is the author of An Easier Childbirth, Birthing Normally and her latest book, Making Healthy Families. Her articles on family relationships appear in professional journals and she is an oft-quoted expert in popular magazines such as Woman's Day, Mothering and Parenting. . She also serves on the advisory board for Fit Pregnancy Magazine.

Dr. Gayle Peterson has written family columns for ParentsPlace.com, igrandparents.com, the Bay Area's Parents Press newspaper and the Sierra Foothill's Family Post. She has also hosted a live radio show, "Ask Dr. Gayle" on www.ivillage.com, answering questions on family relationships and parenting. Dr. Peterson has appeared on numerous radio and television interviews including Canadian broadcast as a family and communications expert in the twelve part documentary "Baby's Best Chance". She is former clinical director of the Holistic Health Program at John F. Kennedy University in Northern California and adjunct faculty at the California Institute for Integral Studies in San Francisco. A national public speaker on women's issues and family development, Gayle Peterson practices psychotherapy in Oakland, California and Nevada City, California. She also offers an online certification training program in Prenatal Counseling and Birth Hypnosis. Gayle and is a wife, mother of two adult children and a proud grandmother of three lively boys and one sparkling granddaughter.

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