Anyone raising children may have across Steve Biddulph and his parenting books. His most recent book “10 Things Girls Need Most” lists key attributes girls need to help them navigate through the challenging stages of child to teen to young woman. The list is below:
1. To be loved & secure
2. To have time to be a child and a chance to be wild
3. To know how to make good friends
4. To find her spark in life
5. To have the love and respect of a dad
6. To have backbone
7. To be part of the women’s movement
8. To have a happy sexuality
9. To enjoy the support of aunties, wise women and experience a rite of passage to womanhood
As I went through the list I felt pleased I could mentally tick off most of the list for my girls but when I got to “experience a rite of passage to womanhood” I felt a little stumped, how could this be achieved? Years ago, girls and boys experienced a debutante ball which was really their first public outing but lovely traditions such as this really seem to be a thing of a past. A rite of passage these days seems to be texting yourself naked at the age of 14 to your 16-year-old boyfriend (oh dear).
As I panicked a little it dawned on me my girls WILL experience this passage and they will do so through a dance sport they love; Physical Culture, commonly referred to as “Physie”. Having been a Physie girl from the ages of 4 – 11 years myself I started child # 2 a few years ago, she was showing a love for dance and after a year at a dance school was a little despondent. So, I thought let’s see if she likes Physie (why didn’t I think of that first up!) and she enthusiastically went along to her first class. I like the ethos of Physie in terms of its empowerment, discipline, acceptance of all and the fact it can be done until the day you die (if you able to still move your body to that day). I also like the “do your best” and “never give up” lessons taught, key mantras I chant at my children. Third year at it and it is her “spark”, she loves it and for me it affirms another thing to tick off that list. Child #3 has been showing an interest since age 2 and I started at Ladies this year so we are a Physie family!
I realised how blessed my girls are to have this sport as it really will help them navigate their way through the key milestones of their life and they will be supported and surrounded by women of all ages to help them. You see in Physie you start in the juniors age group (pre-school to 14 years), you progress to seniors and then you move onto the ladies. Each age group in many ways represents the stages of a female’s life. In this situation for each of those age groups you are with girls & women your own age but you also have girls and women a few years younger and older with you so while you may be looking up at a role model you will be looked at as a role model. It really is a wonderful environment. And while this is a sport which requires a bag of skills from musicality, poise, coordination, athleticism and team work, the key skill is applying dedication and practice. This is especially needed if you want to place at competitions. The overall focus though is being “the best you can be” (as opposed to “win, win, win”) and achieving goals through hard work. What a powerful message & learning for our girls in all aspects of life given the pressures they face from a myriad of angles in today’s world.
Our Physie club is Mount Ousley and we are fortunate in having “Miss Elizabeth Scott” as the head teacher, along with a mix of other incredible teachers who vary in age. My girls (and my son) adore “Miss Elizabeth”; she is patient, gentle yet firm, encouraging without pushing, sets high expectations, incredibly generous of her time and manages to get the girls to meet their goals with enthusiasm. In a nut shell she helps them to be the best they can be – a true teacher.
The ultimate in Physie is becoming a grand Champion Girl, an event which takes place at the end of the year at the Sydney Opera House. It is a truly beautiful night and the Opera House stage sets in motion many a dream for little girls. Big excitement in 2016 when the beautiful Kristen Scott (yes, Elizabeth’s daughter) performed and was named Champion Girl 2016. Child #2 was there and I thought her heart was going to bust with pride and love. I thought my heart was going to bust with gratitude knowing my little girls were surrounded by wonderful role models to help them navigate their years of female growth.
The sport celebrates its 125-year anniversary this year and it’s not hard to see why, it’s more than a sport, it’s a path of growth & support for Australian women from pre-school to senior age and that is a remarkable thing in today’s world. Maybe Steve Biddulph should add “join a Physie club” to his list of things that girls need the most!
My “Top Ten Benefits” of Physie for your girls
1. New friends
2. Physical Co-ordination
4. Physical fitness
6. Personal Grooming
7. Team work
If you are interested in learning more about “Physie” go to http://www.physicalculture.com.au and find out where your local club is.
Note: Steve Biddulph’s books also include Raising Boys, The New Manhood, The secret of Happy Children.