At our house we love to watch box-set DVD’s. No ads, intelligent TV, and if its too much of a cliffhanger we just rock on to the next episode. Now our kids are grown up, its a great bit of couple time too. I love to hear the little sounds Shaaron makes of empathy and response to the situations and characters. And if I literally “lose the plot” I can just pause it and ask her what the heck is going on!.
Right now we are watching “Borgen”, the Danish drama about a woman Prime Minister, her family and her life in politics. I love the subtle differences in people from different countries – Denmark seems notably more equal and the women, at least on this TV show, don’t do the cutesy simpering things that they often do on US television.
The plot though, has taken a dark turn, as it has to midway through any TV drama worthy of the name. The PM is so engrossed in her political challenges, which are of course huge, that she is ignoring her teenage daughter’s cries for help. Her marriage has already broken down under the strain. And what’s worse, when the daughter makes all those usual teenage signs of being deeply unhappy, she gets angry with her for being immature or a nuisance.
I find it almost unbearable to watch (you can tell I get a bit over-involved in television, that’s why I don’t watch much). The clearly mounting distress of the daughter with nobody hearing her signals. Her loneliness, and the fact that she DOES love her mother and father and little brother. She is an open hearted girl, the things that make her good are now making her so vulnerable.
When I was doing lots of radio and TV interviews for the Raising Girls book launch last year, I found myself searching for concise and easy to remember messages that would sum up the message of the book, and be helpful to anyone listening too. I decided there were three basic things that any girl needs to make it to strong womanhood.
1. To be protected from the tidal wave of trash media that comes through our TV sets, internet and smartphones. Especially when young, not to be drowned in images of women as objects of decoration, anxieties about weight and looks, and the pure chaos of modern media that so disrupts our sense of being grounded in a beautiful world.
2. To have a father who treats her as if she is important, valuable, and interesting, for herself. By his time and actions and words, he conveys to her that she is special and worthwhile.
And last of all, and most important.
3. A mother who has time to listen and talk. To spend those thousands of hours of her growing up, helping to transmit strong and thoughtful womanhood. A mum, in other words, who isn’t rushed, swept away with other priorities, or too lost in her own stuff, to be there for her. Even if she is the Prime Minister of Denmark.
These are not easy things to provide. But knowing they are there, like clear strong beacons to aim for, might help.