The 'lost years' of girlhood: what girls aged 10-14 need, and how I'm trying to help

Scrolling down Facebook last week, an article caught my eye. It was called The Forgotten Years of Girlhood, by Steve Biddulph - that guru-of-all-common-sense-author-gurus on childraising. 

Biddulph started off by saying, "We all know girls are growing up too fast." I nodded my head. Definitely. True from both my observation and experience. I'm with you, Steve. 

He then asked, "So, if they're growing up too fast, which years are they losing? Which stage of girlhood are they missing out on?"

My interest grew. I read on.

The article said this: 

It turned out that the make-or-break stage for daughters was one that often gets overlooked. Of the five stages that make up girlhood, ten to fourteen is the time when girls most develop who they are and what they think and believe in. Its the age when they “find their soul”.
— Steve Biddulph

Now I was really interested. You see, the novels I write are for girls aged exactly 10 to 14. And everything Biddulph said corresponded exactly with what I have always known instinctively to be true about that age group, but have never really seen expressed so well.

He went on to say that 10 to 14 is when girls find their spark, when they decide who they are and when they need female mentors - and not just Mum (although of course she's important) but a variety of other, different mature, wise women - in their lives. 

"I've been right all along," I said to myself. (I had to say it to myself because no one else was in the room to hear my gasps of joy, unfortunately.) I even felt a little bit triumphant.

When I began writing novels, I wanted a few things for every story: first, a main character who is real - hopeful, scared, flawed, growing, caught in a world that is quickly changing for them. Every one of my characters is looking for her way into her future and finding she has to make decisions that will change who she is. I wanted life experiences for her that were real, and hard, because life isn't easy, but not so difficult or inappropriate to the age that my character would be flattened by them.

I also wanted to always write in a mentor character - a woman who saw the potential in my main character, who spent time with her, who nurtured and encouraged her, and who helped her make good decisions about going forward: helped her to find her soul. This woman would be different from the main character's mother: a different woman, in a different setting, who could guide the main character in other ways. 

Finally, I wanted to write in a purpose, or a talent or pursuit for my main character: something that she loves, that she finds out she's good at, that she wants to keep doing in their future - her 'spark', as Biddulph calls it.

So, thank you, Steve Biddulph. I knew I was on the right track for this age group, but you confirmed it. Every novel for girls this age that I've written has these things: change, spark, soul and wise guidance from older women. If through my books, I can help even a few girls to get through this important, hidden stage of finding their way into their future, I'll consider my job done.

 

PS. If you're interested, these are my books.