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.

I'm interested too. I my DC3 is a DD of 3yrs. I try to be as gender neutral wih all of them as I can but find that other people (like my mother) are so keen to stereoptype and treat them differently. Often they don't even realise that they are doing it as their attutudes are so deeply ingrained.

The main things I do are:

Be careful about the books we read and the messages contained. I change sex of characters if I feel I need to.

Have a wide range of toys available to all of them and not jsut have 'her' toys in her room and the boys' in their room.

I'm a SAHM so dividsion of chores is problematic for me but usually I make sure that they DC realise what I do in the home is just as important and valid as what DH does going out to work. At weekends DH does equal amounts of housework/childcare (often more) and will do stuff in the evenings once he's home if it needs doing.

I don't leave the 'male' jobs down to DH - I move furniture, garden, change lightbulbs and lift heavy stuff quite cheerfully myself.

I don't criticise, or in fact talk about, other women's appearances. I also don't do the thing I've noticed people doing where they tell girls how pretty they are and then talk to boys about their interests and what they've been up ot as if appearance is all that matters about girls where as boys are real complex little people hmm.

HotheadPaisan Tue 03-Jul-12 16:53:09

For me a lot is about attitudes and expectations. Help them to truly believe they can achieve, talk to them about different expectations and where they come from and what they can do to resist them. Help them with confidence and assertiveness. Show them how the world works and how to navigate it.

Accept that there are differences between the sexes and these should be celebrated, it's not all about 'equality', women should be respected for the majority role they have in having children and should not be penalised financially for this.

Think long-term, personal finance education, etc. Independence but with fairness and a recognition of the potential career and financial impact of having kids. Loads of things like this that I was never taught and should have been.

BlueFlyer Tue 03-Jul-12 17:05:46

HP, have you found yourself aware of differences between how you were brought up and how you want to bring daughters up? Is there a gap between your perspective and what goes on in school?

Librarians, I have found it easier to be gender neutral because I have a boy and a girl. I think it is more difficult if you have just boys or just girls because people then think it is more of a statement if you buy all sorts of toys. The not criticising is good I think, for appearance and beyond.

HotheadPaisan Tue 03-Jul-12 17:09:46

I have sons but I notice the absolute lack of good or an equal number of girl characters in almost every TV programme they watch. The only book series I really like reading with my eldest is The Magic Tree House series - it is a brother and younger sister who have adventures, she is fearless and determined, he is cautious, they speak to each other nicely, it's great.

HotheadPaisan Tue 03-Jul-12 17:12:22

And I despair at popular culture in general, I struggle to find anything I like, I have no idea what I could find for any daughters and wonder what interests my sons will settle on and if I'll think they are any good in terms of not perpetuating stereotypes and having strong female characters and leads. I'm not hopeful because there is little out there.

DorisIsWaiting Tue 03-Jul-12 17:31:20

I have 3 dd's and I struggle. I so want them to be tomboys who are not afraid of being different / going against stereotypes....I have a long way to go.

I'm bookmarking here for ideas. It does help that dh does most of the cooking and ironing and I do most of the DIY and cleaning so we do share household tasks. The difficult bit is inspiring them to think beyond stereotypes in terms of careers (they are still at an age where they want to be like Mummy (I was a nurse!)). To make them more aware of other positive role models.

Fallingoffthefence Tue 03-Jul-12 17:47:24

Great idea for a thread! I have been thinking about this a lot recently since dd1 told dh that he doesn't do any cooking (actually he does but it is mainly for us after they are in bed because he doesn't get home until their tea time - but it made me realise how much more I cook at weekends, mainly because he spends more time with them to make up for seeing less of them in the week). My girls are 6 and 3 so have to pitch things at their level.

I try never to say anything about diets, losing weight etc in front of them. When I talk about going to the gym I talk in terms of being fit and strong rather than anything else.

I've told them both about feminists in history (suffragettes etc) just in terms of stories and how some silly people thought women weren't as clever as men. I've also told them that some people still think that. I've also told them about racism and homophobia in age appropriate ways. For example my cousin is a lesbian and we've talked about how women can live with or marry women in the same way I live with dh but that some people say they shouldn't. we watched horrible histories and talked about Mary Seacole too. At their age I think they have a strong sense of fairness and unfairness so we talk quite a bit about what some silly people think.

Dd1 and I talk quite a lot about how people think girls have to like pink and that boys can't like pink and how this is silly. We watched this video about lego and talked about it quite a bit.

We talk about how if people say they are your friend they should be nice to you. This is mainly at the moment to deal with some girls in her class who keep saying they are her friends but are then horrible to her but I think the lesson is vital for life really. Someone who says treats you like shit doesn't love you no matter what they say.

DH and I both try to model relationships based on respect and although I work part time so do more around the house than he does we both pull our weight and he does is share of domestic tasks.

I am involved in some VAW work which I don't talk about at the moment because I can't find a way to talk about it which is suitable for their ages. But I will in future. I do talk about feminism, say that I am a feminist and give examples that I think they can understand.
HTH - looking forward to other people's tips

BlueFlyer Tue 03-Jul-12 18:17:49

I know a lot of people try to build self esteem in girls through academic success, but that isn't really DD's area of interest. She is capable, and we do some academic stuff, but her focus is creativity and imagination.

In one way, I think imagination is really important and I don't want her to grow out of it. My mum never has! I think it builds strength of character. It is hard to sell people stereotyped identities and ideas if they have this inner reserve of creativity and imagination.

But it also puts her on the sharp end of negativity about women - in films and music. Because she of course wants to see creative and imaginative things as well as do them in her own activities. My sister is good at finding stuff that has interesting female characters - she took DD to see Wicked. But I struggle to find stuff. I'd really appreciate any recommendations about pre teen/teen books, films and music that your daughters enjoy or that you enjoyed when you were younger, or any advice from people who have been or are imaginative. DD is 11.

LynnCSchreiber Tue 03-Jul-12 18:20:04

Great idea.

I'm marking my place to come back later and read properly but my main advice is to be a good example to your daughter.

Theories are meaningless if your DD sees that daddy always puts the bins out to 'help mummy with the housework' and mummy doesn't put petrol in the car cause it's a man's job.

That's quite interesting - I've found gender neutral harder as a parent of both boys and girls although mainly because of other people and the stuff they do!

I definitely parent in a different way to how I was parented (I also have a very different relationship with DH to the one my parents have). Things I plan to do differently with my teens:

No double standards with sex and alcohol. My mum doesn't like drunkeness at all but reacted way worse the few times I got mildly drunk trashed than when my brothers did and I was never allowed boyfriends staying in my room (or male friends - this really pissed me off as they would have been on a mattress on the floor and nothing would have gone on but my mum never trusted us) and her attitudes to sex affected me and that took a long time to get over. I wasn't allowed DH in the same room as me until we were married where as my brothers had girlfriends stay over <bitter>

Encourage them to do the sports they want to do, not the ones I want them to do. Again - I wanted to do rowing, as did my dad, and my mum didn't because my shoulders were 'already big enough' confused and she wanted me to do athletics (which I also enjoyed and ended up competing for my club). She won because she said if I did athletics she'd take me but if I did rowing my dad had to.

Tidying housework - they will have autonomy over their bedrooms to a degree but tidying wilol be done by them. I will not expect DD to be tidier just because she's a girl

AbigailAdams Tue 03-Jul-12 19:08:01

I haven't got a daughter, but I was one! One of the biggest favours my mum did for me (unconsciously I think) was not mention weight or how much I ate or went on a diet at all while I was growing up. She just provided us with a balanced diet and the opportunity for plenty of exercise (we lived in the middle of nowhere so exercise was a necessity to get anywhere independently!)

Another thing she did really well (and my Dad) was encourage me academically and professionally to go in whichever direction I wanted. I was sporty and into science and they encouraged me.

And finally my Mum had an excellent moral compass especially when it came to relationships. I had a verbally abusive relationship when I was younger and I remember her telling me that I couldn't spend my life with someone where I have to watch what I say. I didn't act on it at the time but remembered it later and of course she was right. Spotting abusive relationships and red flags would be on my list to teach daughters. In fact taking the emphasis off having a relationship at all (not sure how you would do that and counteract the masses of media telling women their worth is being with a man).

BlueFlyer Tue 03-Jul-12 19:24:04

I think there is some truth in the idea that we learn how to be a parent from our own parents, and it is really useful if our parents have done something well to do the same, but also useful to see how we would do things differently.

The pointing out abusive stuff is important too.

tethersend Tue 03-Jul-12 19:37:41

Bookmarking as I now have 2 girls- a 3yo and a 6wk old.

I am particularly interested in a point Doris brings up- wanting them to be tomboys. I struggle with this if I'm honest... why do I want my daughters to take on traditionally 'male' attributes? How little do I value traditionally 'female' attributes? I really wanted boys (although am now glad to have two girls), and I have to ask myself why I subconsciously place(d) a higher value on boys than girls.

Also agree completely with Abigail WRT eating/dieting etc.

Good idea for a thread.

Hullygully Tue 03-Jul-12 19:38:03

My dd is 13. It really really helps if they have friends whose parents try and inculcate similar values - they are such pack animals. Dd is fairly clear eyed about stuff, and I am not remotely "feminine" but she does tell me to stop ranting...

Hullygully Tue 03-Jul-12 19:42:49

Yo tethers!

I never got worried about gender based stuff. Ds wore a tutu for years and dd had a mad pink stage...Now she mainly wears jeans. I think you have to work out who they are as people and then help them develop themselves and their interests/personalities.That ^ is obvious. Soz. I mean don't worry what behavious is called what unless they are inhibited/constrained by it. Which I know isn't your point.

<ties self in knots>

BlueFlyer Tue 03-Jul-12 19:44:08

Has she kept the same group of friends long term Hully, or does she have different friends from different activities and so on? DD has always had the same close friends, but I'm thinking there's maybe a benefit of knowing girls with different experiences and interests, and maybe that just happens naturally as they get older. But I can imagine that as they get older it is more about the pack, and what you have to say as a parent gets listened to less.

BlueFlyer Tue 03-Jul-12 19:47:17

I agree tethersend. I don't want to give the message that boys' pursuits are better than girls' ones.

Hullygully Tue 03-Jul-12 19:47:44

She is in her first year at secondary school so they are a new group. So far (touches everything in sight) there is a really nice, kind, supportive group of about 15 of them. Watch this space for crying and moaning in due course.

She still has old friends that she sees, deffo good to have a range. I have also always discouraged the whole "best friend" thing since an unspeakable time a few years ago...

Hullygully Tue 03-Jul-12 19:48:19

Woodcraft folk is good for mixed activities.

BlueFlyer Tue 03-Jul-12 19:52:12

We have somehow been lucky enough not to have unspeakable times over friendship. DD is in a group of 3 girls at school, and will be moving up to secondary school with the 2 others into the same class. They are better friends with each other than with her, because they live in one village and we live in another where our neighbour that plays with DD is a boy. So that all adds up to a classic falling out situation - group of 3, one not as involved, but it never has. They have all always just been happy together, so I am hoping they stay friends in secondary, even though they are bound to make new friendships too.

HotheadPaisan Tue 03-Jul-12 20:08:35

I've been thinking about Woodcraft stuff for S1 (autistic), I reckon it would be nice and non-competetitve and the older ones would look out for him a bit and he'd like the younger ones. He is never going to quite fit for his year group I don't think.

I will teach my kids what occupations earn what, I drifted into IT thankfully but it means/ meant I could always be fully independent if need be.

And that's another thing, I knew from a very young age I wanted financial independence, I don't know how or why but I aimed for it. Ironically I now have three dependents smile

GoodButNotOutstanding Tue 03-Jul-12 20:09:39

I have 2 girls, dd1 is 12 and dd2 is 2. I've been trying really hard to be gender neutral with both of them and bring them up to fully believe they are equal to (or better than) any of the boys they meet.

I think I've done a reasonable job so far with dd1 but to be fair she's quite determined to be herself anyway and refuses to fall for any stereotype at all. She always had a wide range of toys, including cars and train sets as well as dolls and kitchens. She decided for herself that she wasn't interested in a lot of the things that were being pushed as 'girl' things, like Bratz, High School Musical, etc and chose to be interested in Harry Potter (I think she wanted to be Hermione) and Dr Who.
She's also seen me not wearing make up or worrying about clothes so she's not bowing to peer pressure on those things either, in fact I worry that she's possibly going a bit far the other way and making sure she is wearing clean clothes would be a good thing hmm
And being pretty bright helps too I think as she's always been confident that she can be whatever she wants to be, whether that's a lawyer, doctor, etc There really aren't many careers that are closed to someone of her ability and she would never believe she couldn't do something because she's a girl. Anybody making that claim to her would just be laughed at and she would say 'but of course I can do that, I can do anything better than any of the boys'. I think she's probably going to end up in a male-dominated field as she's very interested in Science and Maths atm.
My biggest failing so far has been in the diet thing. I have struggled with my weight all my adult life and ahve been on numerous diets that she's seen, and picked up on that. I am trying to be less obsessive and am working on my issues with food, and she's seeing that too though so hopefully I'm undoing some of the damage I've already done.
Chores are fairly equally shared out in our household, actually dp does more than me but I don't let on that I know that. I earn more than dp and while neither of us goes on about it it's not a secret either so I think dd1 is well aware that women's jobs are just as important as men's jobs. She's also well aware that men do childcare too as my dad did most of the childcare for her til she was 7 and she loved spending so much time with her grandad.

HotheadPaisan Tue 03-Jul-12 20:10:20

I was a tomoboy, is fine until people think you should grow out of it. You are already so far ahead just thinking about all this stuff.

TheSpokenNerd Tue 03-Jul-12 20:14:38

I find that my DDs (7 and 4) are actually having a similar childhood to the one I had in the 70s in terms of what they wear and how we play...the things on sale today are pinker and glitterer-er

tethersend Tue 03-Jul-12 20:26:46

<air kisses Hully>

"I think you have to work out who they are as people and then help them develop themselves and their interests/personalities."

You see, this should be obvious. Yet I have really had to bite my tongue and let DD go hell-for-leather on the pink and smile encouragingly like this --> grin when all she wants to wear are dresses which flare out when she turns around. Because to steer her away from them is as bad as forcing her to wear them.

Hullygully Tue 03-Jul-12 20:35:06

oh yeah, it's weird, they have to go through it. Dd wore the same pink dress every day for over a year (had to wash it at night on occasion. She used to eat the belt too.

Won't touch dresses/ skirts now. Altho she did wear a very short skirt the other day and I asked her if she was going out to earn a few quid. heh heh heh. Also, I always say, well I don't like it, dearest heart, but it isn't me wearing it. You wear what you want to wear. Drives em insane.

Hullygully Tue 03-Jul-12 20:36:08

And don't forget I had had ds wear tights and a tutu and sparkly hairslides for years. Inured.

LynnCSchreiber Tue 03-Jul-12 21:09:45

DD was the biggest massivest princessy Disneyfied girl until she was about 8yo. She went through a "I hate pink" phase, but has not (10yo) settled into liking all colours.

She says that she doesn't really want to be a tomboy, but doesn't want to be a girly girl either.

I think that you have to let them be interested in what they want to be interested in, without giving in to the impulse to steer them in a different direction.

HotheadPaisan Tue 03-Jul-12 21:18:00

DS1 (6) wants a tutu, he's having a bit of a skirt thing again, he had one with Upsy Daisy when he was three, we need a dressing up box, neither DP nor I are that way inclined.

ThePan Tue 03-Jul-12 21:18:10

Had a conversation with dd about 2 years ago (when 10) re tomboy/girly girls - she said exactly as Mme's did - 'I'm somewhere in between. Neither." She had Barbie, and dolls, and was a bit cool on pink. Now she doesn't own a dress, and wouldn't wear one. Likes her clothes, esp t-shirts.

I'm for letting the darlings decide - and besides which in later childhood the more you try to prevail th more there will be something to rebel against. So reverse psychology could be a go-er.grin

Hullygully Tue 03-Jul-12 21:20:03

yy hothead, just have loads of different stuff in a box and let him choose. We used to have a particulalry fetching Sleeping Beauty number I seem to rememember. It was a great loss to sartorial choice when Woolworths shut. sad

HotheadPaisan Tue 03-Jul-12 21:24:46

<off to ebay>

LynnCSchreiber Tue 03-Jul-12 21:27:57

DS went through a phase of wearing DD's pink Tweetie Pie nightie to bed. Every night.

We let him and took lots of really cute photos of him with a buzz haircut in his favourite nightie, with which to blackmail him when he is a teen

BlueFlyer Tue 03-Jul-12 21:29:12

It was a shame about Woolworths. We had a great Princess Leia wig from Woolworths.

treadonthecracks Tue 03-Jul-12 21:31:42

I am joining this thread as I'm interested in the opinions expressed.

My DD, 7, is another girly girl, pink spinny dresses. No end in sight so far...

5madthings Tue 03-Jul-12 21:42:21

joins thread, ihave one dd, my youngest and 4 boys. i think we are parenting her the same as the boys tbh, but she is only 18mths so its early days! having 4 big brothers does mean we have a house full of 'boys' toys but then we also have a toy cooker, dolls, loads of dressing up stuff (my ds3 is a big fan of tutus and fairy dresses, which i was slated for on mnet on another thread!) so we have always been gender neutral with toys and just bought a wide variety for them to play with.

i have to say i am enjoying buying girls clothes, but dd also wears her brothers hand me downs, at the moment i decide to leggins with a skirt or a dress, whatever she wears is practical so she can run and climb, she is a BIG climber! it will be interesting as my dd gets older to see if she is tomboyish or if she goes the opposite way, having 4 big brothers i wonder how much they will influence her. she already likes playing cars, trains etc but equally loves the toy pushchair and doll, tbh she is just a typical toddler at the moment! totally adorable and a bit fiesty! smile

interstingly i worry more about parenting my boys, or at the moment i do, my eldest is almost 13 and i am very worried about the whole internet and porn etc, we have safety settings on our home pc but i am very aware that with fancy mobiles etc it WILL be accesed if not by him by his friends etc. i want him growing up to respect women, well everyone really! and at the moment he sees myself and dp as equals to each other and dp has always been hands on around the house and my boys are all expected to pitch in and help out etc.

GrimmaTheNome Tue 03-Jul-12 21:44:50

I've never really worried about 'gender stuff' either. I guess I grew up with a nice mix of dresses and hand-me-downs from my DBs; always knew I'd be a scientist and simply didn't care that hardly any girls did it at school. So why would I worry about DD - she's herself.

She's got some friends who are happy wallowing around in mud and others who like shopping and makeup - perfect, makes up for my lack of interest. She hasn't worn pale pink for years ... likes wearing black rubber actually. grin

BlueFlyer Tue 03-Jul-12 21:52:02

5madthings, I was thinking of starting a thread about bringing up boys as well, but thought it might be a bit much to start both threads at once. If nobody else does it first, I will start a thread about boys at some point, because I have a boy as well.

TheEnthusiasticTroll Tue 03-Jul-12 21:53:32

have glanced through the thread but noit taken too much in, will read a gain later in greater depth.

The only thing I find that really bothers me is that my dd aged 6 who has a very wide range of interests is classed as a "tomboy" many of her interests change on a daily basis and others are very consistant and those are the more gender nuetral ones, tennis, swimming and also football and drama, both not so.

she likes "boyish" clothes as she says and some feminin clothes "stylish" as she refers to them.

she has picked up on being a "tomboy" and often seeks clarification thats she is in fact a tomboy. I tell her she is not a tomboy she is her with an interest in many things make her the "person" she is and it is not good to need to justify your varied interests with comparison to the opposite sex. I tell her she female and strong and has freewill and that is all that matters.

Yet society needs to justify her uniquness from the stereotypical role and push her in the male mould by giving her a noncensical masculine justification when there are many little girls and woman like her, who are no less female and more male.

5madthings Tue 03-Jul-12 21:58:25

sounds good blueflyer smile its only recenlty ihave started to ahve concerns, as mine get older, the eldest two are 12 and 10 today! then 7 and 4 and then dd is 18mths.

i just think the internet is such a huge thing now in the lives of teens etc, am alreayd a mean mum as i wont let ds1 have a fb account yet! its a whole new world parenting a teen i think! i can cope with babies, toddlers and primary school age but as ds1 gets older i think the outside influences, peer groups etc come into force much more. cant fault ds1 he is great, doing brilliantly at school, well behaved, well mannered etc, but i just know that things WILL come up as he gets older, and its how to handle that natural curiosity about sex etc and yet i want him to know that what you see on the internet is NOT the same as rl life esp with regards to sex and porn etc. mind you he saw his sister being born, so hoping that has put him off for a while yet wink or at least made him think about the reality of what sex can produce!

sweetkitty Tue 03-Jul-12 22:01:01

I have 3DDs, DD1 almost 8 is very girly, pink and princesses, DD2 is a tomboy to the stage she actually wants to be a boy, she dresses in boys clothes down to underwear, loves dinosaurs and wants to be a builder she's 6 and fantastic, DD3 is almost 4 and so far quite girly more into mickey mouse and animals than princesses. Ive patented them the same, also have 2 yo DS who is the most stereotypical boy ever.

I grew up with a mad mother who thought men were better than women, to the extent that she believed its ok for a man to give you the odd slap if he gives you money, seriously the mark of a good man was bringing home the money. All women were good for was having babies and cleaning in here eyes. I'm such a disappointment to her going to uni and doing better than my brother.

I so want to break this mould. We don't talk about weight or appearance either. We say it's ok to wear boys clothes they're just clothes anyway.

TheEnthusiasticTroll Tue 03-Jul-12 22:15:41

argh i hate typing a very good post that then gets lost, grr.

I see the tomboy debate has been touched upon, I agree with tethers on no need to make the comparison.

I think next time dd asks me "Am I a tomboy?" or "do you think Im a tomboy mummy?" I may answer with "no sweetheart you are a feminist" grin. I think it will go down a treat at soft play when the other parents are chuckling sweetly at what a tomboy she is and she pipes up "no actually Im a feminist"

that way she may show an interest and cotton on to feminism far earlier than I ever did and that can only be a good thing.

Hullygully Tue 03-Jul-12 22:17:34

I don't think we've ever talked about "boys" or "girls" clothes or activities or being a "tomboy." Not cos I'm so cool, I just don't think it ever arose. Everyoen just did what they wanted.

The only time I ever remember talking about stuff was when ds wanted (age 7) to wear the hair slides to school and I said it was up to him but some people might make comments about "boy stuff" (because they are insane) so it was up to him if he wanted to deal with it or not.

Hullygully Tue 03-Jul-12 22:18:23


TheEnthusiasticTroll Tue 03-Jul-12 22:22:38

I think I have only in responce to what impression dd has been given from others, mostly mothers with boys I think who invite and include dd to parties and play dates that other girls in her class dont get a look in. But I see it differently than them, they see dd as a tomboy and i see dd a caring and nurturing child and I think the boys like this in her.

when she was in reception one little boy cried every day going into school and dd always with out fail took his hand and walked in with him often without saying anything. They often still play together at lunch time.

PissyDust Tue 03-Jul-12 22:24:59

Can I mark my place as a mother of 3 young girls please?

TheEnthusiasticTroll Tue 03-Jul-12 22:25:43

when I say I have,,,that was not in responce to I say you are a tomboy but your post above about boy and girl things.

my dd does when I think about it, make a distninction between the boyish things she likes and the girly things she likes, though she calls the more girly things stylish confused

Hullygully Tue 03-Jul-12 22:32:57

enthusiastic - I'm glad you cleared that up, I was imagining you shouting YOU ARE A TOMBOY...grin

TheEnthusiasticTroll Tue 03-Jul-12 22:34:30

an intersting point you make about the hair slides too hully and your ds, it seems possibly more accepted that girls can enjoy more masculin things and wear them well but slightly different for boys to do the same.

Hullygully Tue 03-Jul-12 22:39:41


fight back with sparkly hairslides!

FiftyShadesofViper Tue 03-Jul-12 22:49:09

This is a really difficult subject and I wish I had the answer.

I have brought both DS and DD up to believe they can achieve anything they want to. Although we never pushed gender stereotypes DD has always loved the pink, twinkly, girly stuff (unlike me)

Both DCs have done well but whereas DS is confident, DD is not despite her abilities. We have always told her she is beautiful, and she genuinely is physically gorgeous, but she can't see it and has real problems with image, eating and anxiety. I wish there was something we could do to help her but, as yet, we have not found anything.

ComradeJing Wed 04-Jul-12 03:02:17

Just marking my place. No time to read or contribute right now but I will!

Hullygully Wed 04-Jul-12 08:12:13

fifty sad

What are her peer group like?

Marking my place for now but very interested as I am raising 3 girls - 2 DSDs 12 & 10 and DD 8.

Fallingoffthefence Wed 04-Jul-12 11:07:01

The other thing I think is worth doing is to encourage involvement in after school activities with children who don't go to the same school. This really helped me when I was being bullied - having friends that I met one evening a week that weren't part of it all.

I want to talk to dd about healthy relationships as she gets older but worry about whether she will listen when she becomes old enough to start dating - I never listened to my mother!

LynnCSchreiber Wed 04-Jul-12 12:10:38

People do still say, "you are a tomboy". Or I assume someone must have told DD about it, cause she certainly didn't hear it from me.

I love the answer, "I am not a tomboy, I am a feminist". That would go down well in our family.

The images that girls see when growing up are very different to the ones that we used to see. I am planning to write about this - and hoping that I can an interview with DC Thomson (publisher of Beano, Dandy, Bunty etc) to talk about the differences between the comics of the 70s and 80s and the glossy image obsessed ones now available.

There is an American campaign at the moment SparkSummit. They have managed to persuade one teen magazine to stop photoshopping the images of girls and are now working on TeenVogue.

I bought TeenVogue the other day to see what it is like. They pay lip service to the "be yourself" thing but all the models pictured are slim, beautiful and flawless. Meh.

GrimmaTheNome Wed 04-Jul-12 12:19:44

My 13 yr old DD still reads the Beano grin

TheEnthusiasticTroll Wed 04-Jul-12 12:29:14

the only comic I will buy dd is the beano mainly because it is only £1.50. If she wants one anymore expensive I offer to find her a book in the charity shop for under £3 that she will learn or gain far more from, she gives me a very angry look

I absolutly hate kids magazines espcially the fluffy pink sparkly bunny and cats one. I have no idea what it is called it is just regurgiated fluffy bunny pictures with a different back drop on each page and very pretty blond girls very similar looking to the lely kelli models, fawning over them, I think it is the gateway to magazines aimed at older girls.

PosieParker Wed 04-Jul-12 12:35:46

Sexism and stereotypes happen by osmosis, you have to be really resilient to fight it. We don't eradicate it here, but we do offer an alternative. Today is 'dress up pirate day at school', my dd is five and, so I'm told, striking and beautiful. She wore Jack sparrow dressing up outfit, unlike every other girl (bar the one they call a 'tomboy') who were Pirate Princesses. It was a really proud moment, not only is she bucking the trend but she did it without thought. Everywhere, and I do mean everywhere, people ask her name and tell her she's beautiful, little else, my boys are beuatiful too, but people barely pass comment on this, comparatively, and it certainly isn't the only thing they say.

At 2-3.5yrs old dd would wear no other colour but pink, without a huge fight, and for the whole of '3' she would not wear shorts or trousers without a fight.
She wants to be a doctor when she grows up, her room is pink, she does not have a Barbie, she does have baby dolls, a kitchen, ironing board (all wooden but a bit pink). She loves being a girl but as yet is not limited by this.

Every time one of my children defines colours/objects as for girls or boys they are corrected. My ten yr old is alone in his class with this sort of thinking, I think it's tough to be a boy that thinks of girls as equal...ds2 is matter of fact about feminism, he thinks it's a given!

We do talk a lot about image, the right thing to do, sexism etc. I find an open and constant dialogue makes stuff normal.

TheEnthusiasticTroll Wed 04-Jul-12 12:38:44

my nephew chose a bright pink arm cast when he broke his arm. grin

LynnCSchreiber Wed 04-Jul-12 12:49:09

That is a tricky one - the compliments. I find that DD is told, "you are looking pretty" and DS is told, "aren't you clever" by grandparents.

We have just bought a house and the DC will for the very first time be able to decide on the colours and decor of their rooms. Will be interesting to see what they choose.

5madthings Wed 04-Jul-12 12:56:16

Every time one of my children defines colours/objects as for girls or boys they are corrected. this! i have never defined toys by gender, by children at various ages have done and i have corrected them the elder 3 who are 12, 10 and 7 dont do it anymore, infact ds3 LOVES tutus and fairy outfits and all things pink and sparkly! but my ds4 who is just 4 will refer to things as 'girly' or for girls and i always correct him!

and i find myself calling dd beautiful but i also tell her she is smart and strong etc, equally i tell the boys they are handsome but also tell them they are smart and thoughtful/caring etc. i guess its all about balance?

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.

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).

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.

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

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)

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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

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

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)

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.

GoodButNotOutstanding probably lots of judgment grin but check out some of these pics
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 15:44:02

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?

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)

The second one is a girl i believe

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!

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

msbuggywinkle Have you seen Katie Makkai perform 'Pretty'?

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.

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!

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


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