support thread: bringing up girls

(88 Posts)
BlueFlyer Tue 03-Jul-12 16:24:13

I'm a mum of a daughter and I have started this thread for anybody who is bringing up girls. I know quite a few people have started threads before about younger girls and stereotypes, but I'd also like advice on raising self esteem, resilience and imagination in older girls.

I'd really appreciate any advice from people who have experience, and any book, activity, media or other recommendations.

Broodzilla Fri 11-Jan-13 18:57:01

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RavenVonChaos Fri 11-Jan-13 18:54:43

As your daughters get older (early teens) please talk to them about masturbation, sexuality and sexual enjoyment.

No women's magazines in my house anymore.

Healthy eating, never dieting.

Whatever they chose from the library, always slip in an extra book about strong women or men who have battled against prejudice. We found a great picture book about Harvey Milk recently.

Have lots of fun! Teaching them to enjoy life and develop resilience will come in handy when the chips are down.

Horse riding has been great for my girls in developing strength, courage and risk taking behaviour. It's a great gender leveller.

Still struggling with it all tho!

Yes! I showed it to DD too as we are a swearing friendly household! It led to an interesting chat about plastic surgery which, happily, she thinks is bonkers.

TheMightyMojoceratops Fri 13-Jul-12 17:14:54

msbuggywinkle Have you seen Katie Makkai perform 'Pretty'?

I have three DDs (6,3 and baby). DD1 is totally 'pretty' obsessed, I think mainly due to her Nana's tendency to comment. DD1 also hates hair brushing and only bothers occasionally, her Nana will comment 'where has your pretty hair gone?' (I replied, 'on her head, where it always is') there are lots of similar instances.

We have been talking a lot about why we like people (as in, it has nothing to do with how they look) and I try to be a decent female role model (I work for my self part time, and have varied interests)...she just seems to be attaching so much importance to the word 'pretty' and it is worrying me!

The second one is a girl i believe

With DD I could just not brush and the individual curls turn into mini dreads after a week or so (that's the longest I've let her go without dragging a brush through). With straight hair you backcomb and either twist and rip with wax or use a very small crochet hook (.6/.75) and use that to tighten them up (<-- what I did and it took 28 hourse in total to dread all my hair)

GoodButNotOutstanding Wed 04-Jul-12 15:44:02

That last little girl is very cute. Is it a girl? I can't tell with the name of tea-pot confused. How do you do dreads? Can I just not brush her hair or do I have to do something to it?

GoodButNotOutstanding probably lots of judgment grin but check out some of these pics www.knottyboy.com/dreadlocks-pictures/dreadie-boy2/3/6092/.
I went on to knotty boy mainly because I remembered reading on there about a boy who really wanted dreads but didn't like the backcombing etc so his mum did them one at a time while he was asleep and now he's got lovely dreads and is a sought after child model.

GoodButNotOutstanding Wed 04-Jul-12 15:14:10

Librarians - my dd1 had very little hair and was constantly being mistaken for a boy too. I took to dressing her in pretty pink dresses til I realised quite how absurd that was, I think she was about 13/14 months when i worked out that it didn't matter whether people thought she was a girl or a boy and she should wear comfortable practical clothes so she could crawl and toddle around more easily. DD2 hates having her hair brushed too, is it acceptable to let toddlers have dreads or would i be opening myself up for a lot of judgement? Not that I really care who judges me but I like to be prepared for it happening.

another thing we are doing is knitting/sewing/clothes making - DS1 dead keen to have a go so they re all going learn if they want (actually - sewing a hem/button etc they will whether they want to or not, likewise the 'male' jobs)

The perception thing - It's something I've noticed a lot since having DD. One in particular is pretending to hoover. My family just used to laugh when the boys pretended to hoover whereas with DD they'd say 'oh, look! She knows what to do with that' (yup, obviously by instinct rather than because she'd seen DH and I hoovering hmm. Morons) or' she's such a girl isn't she.

When DD is being bossy it's being bossy and because she's a girl, whent he boys are it's just them 'organising' everyone.

DD had very little hair til 2.6 and was often mistaken for a boy, if I bothered correcting people they would say 'oh yes I can see it now'. Now that she has a mop of curls everyone comments on how pretty they are <sigh>. It's very fine and she hates having it brushed to the point where she has little dreads forming sometimes. I'm considering letting them just go to dreads (I would but i have dreads and don't want turn her into some kind of mini-me)

DS2 really wants a skirt grin cos he likes the look of them. I would cheerfully go for it but know that he'll get comments when out at the park so I've made him some ali-babas as a compromise

5madthings Wed 04-Jul-12 14:01:08

thats interesting falling as i have 4 boys and then one dd and yes i see how VERY different my 4 boys are to each other! so even tho dd is 18mths old i do assume she behaves the way she does down to personality, she likes dolls, but she also likes cars and trains etc, it will be interesting as she gets older to see if she goes down the pink and sparkly route, i am NOT a pink person and dont really dress her in pink so she probably will just to spite me!

my 4 boys as i said are very different, a bookwormy ds1, a football mad ds2, a pink, sparkly mad ds3 and ds4 is just 4 and into toy story and super heros etc. they are massively different in personality, tho they all look very similar and as toddlers they were often mistaken for girls as they had longish hair and big blue eyes, i oftne got told they were too pretty to be boys or their eyes and in particular their eye lashes (very long) were wasted on a boy! shock

nickelbarapasaurus Wed 04-Jul-12 13:59:11

Falling - i have even so far quoted "we don't do gender stereotypes, do we, DD?" several times
grin

nickelbarapasaurus Wed 04-Jul-12 13:57:40

god, yeah, that would piss me off too Librarians !

FWIW, I was a girl who wore dresses and had long hair, but my favourite hobby was climbing trees.
most boys look better with long/er hair when they're little anyway.

Fallingoffthefence Wed 04-Jul-12 13:55:47

I remember my oldest nephew when he was a toddler was often mistaken for a girl, people were always telling my sister how pretty he was. Then if she said he was a boy (and she didn't always bother) they would often very quickly try to say something that was more 'boyish' - 'hasn't he got strong legs?' or 'a bet he's a handful'. My daughter (who wore a lot of his clothes as a baby) was often mistaken for a boy and the same thing happened in reverse.

What I find fascinating is the insistance some people have in finding evidence that a child is a 'typical' girl or boy - even when that child is actually behaving in a very non-stereotyped way. I don't tend to get into long discussions about gender stereotyping at play groups (except with my friends), but even if I say something fairly mild about how all children are different some parents really fixate on the bits of their children's behaviour that fits the stereotype.

The other thing that fascinates me is that it is often the people who are most convinced that gender differences are innate and that children are naturally one way or another depending on whether they are a boy or a girl who police the toys that their children play with. I knew one mother who was always going on about how you could tell that her son was a boy becuase he was so different from my daughter, even when she was spending half her life taking toys off him because they were for girls and trying to get him to play with 'boys' toys.

I read an interview with Cordelia Fine, who wrote delusions of gender, who said that parents who had several children of the same sex were more likely to see differences being a result of different personalities (becuase it was obvious they weren't about gender) while parents who had opposite sex children would often think differences between them were to do with gender differences.

Fallingoffthefence Thanks for that link! I do now have the mental image of my 4 taking over the playground all wearing those (though I'll have to wait for DC4 to get a bit bigger). The bag looks really nice as well.

Ooooh, the 'Tomboy' thing. angry I'm going to be highly recognisable byt his anectdote but tant-pis: DS1 had lovely long, thick, golden glossy locks that came down to mid back by the time he was 3.5/6. We were walking into town one day and walked through a little green area with trees they like climbing in and he was climbing as usual. An old man walking past stopped and the conversation went like this:
Him: She's a little tomboy isn't she
Me: He's a little boy
Him: Well, he looks like a girl with that hair
Me: he's a boy
Him: looks like a girl with that hair
Me: well, he's a boy
Him: looks like......
and on and on

Still make me livid 3 years on. The mixture of 1)assuming that he was a girl just because of hair 2) Considering it a boy activity to climb trees and 3)carrying on and on really pissed me off.

PosieParker Wed 04-Jul-12 13:26:16

My dd is lovely now, well since about 2.5 but from 9 months to about 20 months she was not a pretty sight.....yet still people would say 'isn't she pretty?'....and all I could think was, erm no!

nickelbarapasaurus Wed 04-Jul-12 13:22:12

DD si only 6 months, but I'm already fed up with it all.

One thing that is a bit more positive in this issue, though.

We went to Bluewater on Sunday, and, after a trip to Mothercare and Boots where it's all "girls must have this, boys must have that" (to be fair to MC, it's not as bad as it was - the "boys' stuff" is just as hideous as the "girls' stuff", just not as pink -the "neutral" stuff was a lot nicer!), DH got a bit annoyed, and decided that, as we sat on a bench, he would comment on girls/women wearing pink.
We counted for a little while, and including babies in prams, we saw 8 men wearing pink shirts, and only 7 women/girls/babies wearing pink of any kind (most females counted wore fuschia, actually, where the men wore shades from pastel to salmon)

5madthings Wed 04-Jul-12 13:17:45

yes i call my boys beautiful as well, i actually quite often say 'good boy' to dd! i am so used to saying boy or boys! so she may well grow up with gender issues grin

PosieParker Wed 04-Jul-12 13:14:40

Argh. I do use beautiful... but for all of them. Although my youngest, 3yrs, is cool...not cute Mummy, not beautiful, not handsome, but cool.

LynnCSchreiber Wed 04-Jul-12 13:11:32

Yes, I use "smart" or "neat", or praise that they got dressed without me having to nag them 15x (when younger it was praise for getting dressed without / with minimal help).

Fallingoffthefence Wed 04-Jul-12 12:58:30

Both my daughters have this T-shirt. The six year old tells people that she is a feminist all the time now. She is very much focussed on the 'you can like any colour you like and play with any toys you like' school of feminism. We can move onto more challenging theory later!

Some other thoughts. A friend of mine always tells children (girls and boys) that they look 'smart' rather than pretty/handsome when they are all dressed up.

I try to praise things in children that challenge rather than re-enforce gender stereotypes - so for example look for opportunities to praise boys (children's friends, nephews etc.) for being kind, helpful, gentle, considerate and praise girls for being brave, strong and so on. This isn't becuase I think girls shouldn't also be kind, helpful etc or boys be brave and strong but to counter the pressure they get from everywhere else.

Also because I think people often don't notice when children do things that don't fit the stereotype - at playgroups I often hear mothers describe their son as 'a typical boy' if he runs around shouting, but don't seem to notice the times when he sits quietly doing craft. Equally girls playing with dolls are commented on all the time for 'being like mummy' but not when they are hitting fences with sticks.

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