skip to site navigation


A How-To For Fathers With Daughters

Fathers Raising Daughters, by Nigel Latta

Reviewed by Mark Stephenson

There is an abundance of parenting books but few aimed at fathers in particular. This one looks at the particular issues confronting a father bringing up daughters, whether as a solo dad, or within a partnership. Daughters, and women in general, the book informs us, are different.

The aim of book is to support and advise dads raising girls. As the author points out, most of the problems arise at or after puberty. Before that, parenting girls is not too different to boys, and anyway most girls admire their dads so you’re already onto a winner.

Not so when adolescence come along, “where Dad jokes go to die”.

Nigel Latta is a clinical psychologist specialising in child behavioural problems. He has done two TV series and has a regular parenting slot on National Radio.

Fathers Raising Daughters follows the usual self-help format: begins with telling you why you need it, confirms the authors credentials, and then intersperses the text with his successes and wisdom.

That said, he writes clearly and concisely, and the content is generally relevant. Some of it is even useful in a practical day-to-day sense. Subtitled ‘The father’s guide to the female mindfield’, it is written in a jokey-blokey style, with plenty of humour.

It has a ‘we’re all boys together’ sort of tone, that, while amusing, tends to generalise and borders on condescending at times. E.g., Dads want “large flat-screen televisions…” and to “stay out of trouble”.

And this on puberty – “after all, it’s just plumbing”. Do men have such difficulty with normal biology these days? Perhaps they do.

The first section of the book is about girls pre-puberty and some of the differences from boys in the early years (ie, before ten years of age). Following this, he describes in a light but scientific way, the actual gender differences there is evidence for.

He coins the term sexual pseudoscience which can be summarised as: “small average differences with a lot of overlap”. E.g., the claim that girls brains develop earlier than boys brains actually means that there is a small difference in average brain development but mostly boys and girls are about the same.

He quotes some interesting studies on gender differences: it seems that in 82% of psychological variables there is no difference between boys and girls.

There are also chapters on Pop Culture, Bullshit, Mean Girls and The e-girl, with common sense advice about managing exposure to TV advertising and the internet. This is followed by segments on puberty and brain development in adolescence.

This is all interesting enough but the really useful stuff is in the chapters about actual ‘teenager taming’ (my term). There is a lot of good practical advice here, from one-liners such as “never stop showing her physical affection” and “invite her into your world, visit her in hers”, to behaviour management ideas like the “Ladder of Certain Doom”.

In this, the consequence of bad behaviours e.g., curfew time, loss of cell phone, increases proportionately to the misdemeanours, but privileges can be won back by good behaviour. This gives the youngster some control over the situation. I have tried this one with my own daughter.

It definitely helps.

Though the general tone of the book is light, he does not shy away from the tough stuff. There are chapters on bullying, anorexia, bulimia, suicidal behaviour and separation (the parents, that is). One of the best bits of the book is towards the end where he emphasises the importance of dads in a girl’s life.

Not only does he assert from scientific data that men can raise daughters as well as women can, but he notes that dads have a protective effect on adolescent girls in such areas as: age of sexual experience, teenage pregnancy, even eating disorders and depression.

Dads are necessary and good for daughters. Well, we knew that, but it is good to hear it anyway.

In conclusion, there is some good useful advice and information, it is very supportive of dads and inclusive, if a little condescending.

The amount of practical advice is perhaps small, but there is plenty of humourous anecdote and common sense to fill it out. Definitely worth a read.

Nothing New for New Dads

New Father’s Survival Guide by Martyn Cox

Reviewed by Harald Breiding-Buss

It’s starting to get a little crowded on the new fathers market, with a local book, various booklets and a DVD all having come out in the last few months. The New Fathers’s Survival Guide is the latest instalment in this trend.

With the small format and nice photos inside it makes a great gift for a new dad, a nice token of acknowledgement that a milestone has been reached. But as for the content, it’s amazingly banal and slightly retro in parenting roles.

There is no information in the book that you wouldn’t have heard elsewhere already, and much of it is just re-iterating worn clichés. It paints an idealistic picture of what dads should be and do, and more than once Cox advises ’Get over it’ as a solution to a problem, such as being put off sex by watching your partner give birth.

For most other issues Cox simply recommends to talk to a friend or a professional.

The publisher may simply be trying to jump on the bandwagon here, but hey, dads deserve the attention.

Publisher: Ryland Peters & Small
RRP $24.99

Get Ready for the World Cup

2010 Fifa World Cup South Africa Fact File

Reviewed by Harald Breiding-Buss

With soccer being the most played organised junior sport in New Zealand, the upcoming World Cup is bound to raise some excitement in many of our youngsters.

Rather than just follow the megastars, this “Official Junior Book” focuses on the nations and teams that qualified, listing their previous record, how they qualified for this one and, yes, one of their top players.

It is colourful with lots of impressive numbers, and has a progress chart at the back, where junior can keep track and put in the results. It’s the kind of thing kids will pick up for every game to look up the countries that are playing, and one that dad will be more than happy to go along with.

If you’re soccer-mad yourself, this book may help a great deal in keeping your kids’ interest alive as the World Cup unfolds, and especially after New Zealand has been eliminated.

If nothing else, the book might just save dad from showing too much embarrassing ignorance about teams such as Slovenia or Ghana.

Publisher: Carlton Books
RRP: $16.99

Next: Waitakere Survey

Father & Child News

The Last Post

As the history of Father & Child is at an end, it is time to reduce the hosting costs and... Read more →