In society, there are plenty of gendered stereotypes about raising female children. Parents notes that one common yet misguided belief is that girls are much harder for mom and dad to raise because puberty tends to be more drastic with them and they go through far more epic mood swings than their male counterparts do at the same age.
Even toy stores are separated by gender. When Toys R Us was open, it was totally common to walk into the store and see about three aisles totally decked out in pink that were filled to the brim with princess castles, Barbie dolls and toy horses for little girls to ooh and ahh over.
On the other hand, the boys’ aisles were usually decorated in shades of green, blue or even black with tons of G.I. Joe figurines, Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers toys, and each and every type of skateboard ever created.
In the past, parents tended to stick to those aisles and those aisles only when shopping for gifts for their children. It was practically traditional to be swimming in Barbie dolls if the child was a girl and to have boxes full of those cool little cars if the child was a boy.
For parents that want to move away from such stereotypes when raising a female child, the following list points out all of the no-nos that need to be avoided when parenting daughters.
20 Reprimanding Them For Using A Baby Voice
Parents writes that mom and dad shouldn’t reprimand their daughter when she starts speaking in a baby-ish voice. Sure, it’s annoying and it isn’t a good look when parents are trying to instill confidence in their daughter, but scolding her isn’t the way to go.
Instead, it’s best to speak with confidence at home and praise your daughter whenever she does the same. The more you praise her for doing the right thing, the more she’ll get accustomed to becoming a confident speaker and the less parents will have to hear the shrill baby voice that makes folks want to cover their ears.
19 Giving Them Stereotypical Toys As Gifts
Bustle points out that even though it might be tempting for parents to visit the local toy store before the holidays and purchase stereotypical gender-based toys such as Barbie dolls, those pricey Girl dolls, or one of those pretend homemaker kits where children can pretend to bake cookies, it’s best to let the child take the lead and pick out whatever they want with no urging towards the “usual” pink-based items.
Try to get a little girl a well-rounded array of toys as gifts so that she won’t feel constricted to a certain aisle just because it is decked out in the color pink and filled to the brim with dolls.
18 Discussing Their Appearance
When I was a little girl and I was forced to wear the ridiculous velour dresses that were so hip for children back in the day, I remember my relatives would always coo over my appearance and say things such as “How cute you look” when I arrived with my family.
Parents warns mothers and fathers to not focus on their daughter’s appearance and compliment her on her looks, lest it cause self-esteem issues as she gets older. Instead, it is far better to praise your child’s character and attributes—like the fact she can speed read or she can rattle off facts about ancient Greece at the tip of a hat.
17 Assigning Them Gender-Specific Chores
In some families, it is common for parents to separate chores based on the gender of their children. Male children will often be asked to do tasks such as mow the lawns, help their fathers wash the car outside and aid in repairing the house while their sisters are usually asked to vacuum the living room, wash the dishes or do the laundry.
Reader’s Digest highly recommends divvying up the chores so that they’re not the gendered stereotypes found so often in our society. It will help build your daughter’s confidence and teach your sons how to perform important household tasks.
16 Encouraging A Limited Net Of Hobbies
Parents encourages moms and dads to encourage their daughter to have a wide array of hobbies and interests instead of trying to mold her into the hobbies that you want to have in an unconscious attempt to re-live your own childhood or push her towards gendered activities, such as taking dance classes when she has zero sense of rhythm and coordination.
Instead of unconsciously enforcing gendered-based activities and passions, cast a wide net and wait to see what she becomes interested in. You might hope she wants to take soccer lessons, but it winds up that she’s actually great at horseback riding.
15 Acting Overly Critical
Let’s face it, society can be utterly harsh on women—especially for female children. I remember all too well how one ill-timed, thoughtless criticism from my mom or dad would feel like a crushing blow to my fragile young self-esteem. I won’t lie, it took me several years to recover from those thoughtless words and the shadows they left upon my psyche.
Parents notes that it is very important for parents to be conscious of their words and not accidentally seem overly-critical about things like her appearance, grades, etc.; lest it wind up causing cracks in your child’s still-developing self-esteem.
14 Making Jokes About Going Shopping For Undergarments
Puberty was one of the most embarrassing times of my life. Not only was my body changing and causing all sorts of mishaps, but my mom thought it would be great fun to crack jokes when she took me to the local store to purchase my first bra. Needless to say, I didn’t like going bra shopping for a long, long time.
Reader’s Digest writes that going shopping for undergarments like bras and underwear is already awkward enough for daughters, so don’t you dare do what my mother did and embarrass your poor child even further by making a big joke out of it. Stay cool and casual; your daughter will thank you for it when she’s older.
13 Treating Puberty Like Some Big Secret
If there’s one thing I am utterly grateful for, it is the fact that my family never treated puberty as if it was a hidden secret to only be discussed in hushed tones like most of my friends’ parents did when we were teenagers.
That popular Mommy website points out that it is important to make sure that your daughter has a well-rounded education about puberty and what changes they can expect. Break the societal taboo that surrounds girls talking about how their bodily changes and provide a good role model for your daughter to emulate by having a frank discussion about it.
12 Making Jokes About Purchasing Pads Or Tampons
If there’s one thing that always annoyed me once Aunt Flo came to town when I was at the tender age of 11 years old, it was that my dad thought the whole thing was a riot and kept teasing me about purchasing my very first set of sanitary napkins.
S. Mommy notes that most girls are already nervous or on edge the first time Aunt Flo comes to town, so don’t treat the whole thing like a joke and make her feel even more jittery about the whole event. You should treat the event in a very matter-of-fact way and teach her how to use different items such as pads, tampons and menstrual cups.
11 Dads Trying To Act Tough In Front Of Their Teen's Significant Other
I will never forget the day my little sister brought her first boyfriend home to meet our parents. My boyfriend and I watched wide-eyed as my dad attempted to make himself look even more tall and imposing than he already is in a not-so-subtle way of reminding the poor dude that he’s tough and could go all Incredible Hulk if pushed.
The Mommy site warns fathers that while it is tempting to try and scare off any potential suitors by reminding them that you are tough as nails, it’s actually really embarrassing for your daughter and it enforces the negative societal idea that women need their fathers or husbands to protect them.
10 Feeling Too Embarrassed To Discuss Bodily Changes
It always baffled me when some of my friends would complain about how embarrassed their mothers were when talking about puberty and all of the bodily changes that were going on—including Aunt Flo coming to town because my mother and aunts were perfectly open about such things. They told me funny yet heartbreaking stories of how their moms would blush, stammer and dance around the subject, leaving them to figure things out on their own.
Reader’s Digest writes that even though it might be a bit embarrassing for you to discuss how your daughter’s body is going to go through a rollercoaster ride of changes during puberty, it’s best to stay calm and be frank about it. If you’re not embarrassed by talking about it, they won’t either and they’ll feel more comfortable turning to you if they have any questions.
9 Overly Coddling Her
There is a stereotype in parenting that daughters need to be coddled due to the outside world and all that lurks in it. When my sister and I were growing up, my father would stay up all night in order to drive us home from a concert or when we were out late hanging out with friends. On the other hand, my male cousin had far more freedom than my sister and I ever had and his parents certainly didn’t coddle him the way my parents coddled us.
Parents notes that while it is important to instill in your daughter the correct safety measures and to reinforce the importance of checking in when you’re going out, it’s not good to coddle them and constantly drive them places or pick them up because they need to learn some independence too.
8 Complaining In Front Of Her About How Girls Are So Difficult To Raise
There is a weird notion in society that “girls are difficult to raise.” It was common when my little sister and I were growing up to overhear our mother complain to her friends on the phone about how she did not like having to be a parent to not one, but two girls because “they’re difficult to parent.”
Parents writes that when daughters hear negative statements like their moms or dads complaining about how difficult it is to raise girls, it can lower their self-esteem and make them feel crummy, which is not what any child needs in their lives as they are growing up.
7 Gossiping About Others In Front Of Them
In popular culture, one of the most-used villains for female characters is the “mean girl” that utilizes gossip as a hurtful tool and talks about other people behind their back. For examples, the characters of Regina George from Mean Girls and Pansy Parkinson from the Harry Potter series are perfect examples of this stereotype.
Parents warns that it is important to provide a positive role model for your daughter and not gossip about others in front of her or where she can overhear, lest she accidentally follow your lead and go down the path characters like Regina George trod in the flick Mean Girls.
6 Critiquing Their Wardrobe Choices
In this day and age, there’s constant peer pressure for girls to fit in and wear the coolest clothes or to make sure that their body looks like a supermodel’s. Let’s face it, when girls are growing up, they can make some fashion faux pas. I know I look back at some of my photos from my teenaged years and laugh myself silly at how I thought a bright pink leopard print vest was cool.
Parents urges mothers and fathers to resist the temptation to be overly critical towards their wardrobe choices, lest it lead to lowered self-esteem in the future. Trust me, your child will grow out of the odd fashion stage and their wardrobe won’t have any more eyebrow raising items like a bright pink leopard print vest or pale-blue bell bottoms.
5 Keeping Them From Learning How To Use Tools
For previous generations of parents, it was really common to not teach a female child how to use tools and make repairs to the house, apartment, car, or bicycle. I’ll be totally honest, my dad didn’t bother teaching me how to change a tire or how to correctly use a hammer; the only thing he taught me in that vein was how to pump air into a deflated bike tire and that’s only because I was a bicycle enthusiast that kept pestering him.
Reader’s Digest notes that it is important for fathers to teach their daughters how to use tools correctly as a way to foster independence and break gender stereotypes to smithereens.
4 Telling Them If A Boy Likes A Girl, He'll Tease Her
It is pretty common to hear parents parrot the belief that if a little boy likes a little girl, then he’ll go out of his way to tease her as a way to reassure their daughter after they complain that a classmate or a neighbor’s son was irritating her to no end.
Babble warns parents to chuck that idea into the bin because it only reinforces the negative idea that being mean towards one’s object of affection is a good thing and it does nothing to set women up for success in future relationships when they are grown adults.
3 Asking Them To Hug Relatives At Holidays When They Don't Want To
Over the years, many mothers and fathers have insisted that their daughter greet their guests during the holidays or birthday parties by giving them a hug and scolding them whenever they dare to raise their voice and insist that they really don’t want to.
Girl Scouts writes that it is important to not insist that your daughter hug guests if she does not want to because the idea of owing someone a hug can cause a woman to believe she owes someone physical affection because they were nice to her when she is an adult and living on her own.
2 Not Encouraging Them To Explore STEM
Reader’s Digest points out that research has shown that girls’ often start to perform poorly in math classes when they are in elementary school and teachers tend to gloss over it and not encourage them to explore STEM subjects because of the negative stereotype that says “girls just aren’t good at that.” I’m almost positive that I have a math learning disability called dyscalculia, but I was never formerly diagnosed because everyone around me simply assumed that I wasn’t good at math because of my gender.
Since research has also shown that girls have just as much ability to succeed in STEM as their male counterparts and this area is in dire need of gender diversity, it is best to encourage their interests should they show an aptitude for such subjects and introduce them to female role models in that area.
1 Poo-Pooing Them When They Express Certain Emotions
Parents notes that in our society, girls often grow up to be total perfectionists because their mothers and fathers unconsciously praise their “good” behavior and enforce the idea that making mistakes means that they aren’t a good child. Therefore, they learn quickly to hide any other emotions other than positive ones and wear a mask as well as
It’s so important for parents to break this stereotype by allowing your daughter to make mistakes and encouraging her to express a wide range of emotions, not just the happy ones. One way to do that is to sit down and discuss with her the age-appropriate things that have upset you today and see if she’ll do the same.