10 Things You Don't Have To Do When You're Raising A Girl, No Matter What Anyone Tells You
I am not a patient woman. So each time I became pregnant, I tried to find out the sex of my child as soon as possible. However, once I found out I pretty much did absolutely nothing with that information. This was in large part due to my natural inclination, but there was a degree of intention there, especially after I found out I was having my daughter. In the end, there are so many things you don't have to do when you're raising a girl that people insist you do, and my contrarian, angsty, feminist self wanted to push against all of them.
Spoilers for people who do not have a boy and a girl: they're way more similar than they are different. If you've parented one, you will 100 percent know what you're doing with the other. If children were articles of clothing, their tags would have the exact same washing instructions. You don't need to put daughters in the delicate cycle or line dry them because they can't handle the heat of the dryer or some other fictitious and condescending gender-driven belief. Are there differences? Of course. Every kid is different from every other kid because, you know, that's just how human beings work. But a daughter's gender (or perceived/assigned gender) is very likely the least complicated factor in figuring out how to interact with her or, at the very least, it's probably not the most important thing.
So what special instructions about raising girls can the collective "we," or at least you, ignore? Most of them, actually, but let's start with the following:
Shop In The "Girl's" Section
What do you think is going to happen if you cross that invisible line in stores that differentiates the "boy" clothes from the "girl" clothes? I'll tell you, because I've done it many times: not a damn thing.
No alarm is going to go off. No fretful, misguided employee is going to walk over to you and say, "Excuse me. I'm so sorry, but that's a baby girl and I notice you're buying a navy and forest green plaid shirt and gray trousers. You're going to have to put that back and get something pink." Yes, I'll admit that it's frustrating that clothing is often so binary, but you can always just subvert the binary by shopping from any rack you damn well please. Your daughter's wardrobe doesn't have to follow arbitrary marketing schemes.
Sure, lots of girls like playing with dolls. I did and my daughter does so, hey, I think dolls are great! (Samantha Parkington, you were the best Christmas gift of all time.) You'd probably do well to pick up a few to keep in the toy box, because your child will probably enjoy caring for them.
However, that's also true of boys and, as with boys, there's no guarantee girls are going to be super into playing with dolls, either. So be prepared to buy a variety of toys and see what your kid likes rather than just loading them up with one kind of usually "gender-specific" toy and tipping the scales in one direction or the other.
Prepare For An Onslaught Of Princesses
My daughter has a costume box full of princess dresses. Do you know what she wears most frequently? A triceratops costume. (It's awesome and her roar is superb, by the way.) She also has a shelf full of DVDs and while she's recently been obsessed with Frozen, her old standbys are The Iron Giant and Inside Out.
Like dolls, princesses are a blast. Lots of kids love dressing up in fancy dresses and tiaras, to be sure, but not all. Even if your daughter is taking a liking to princesses, that's probably not the only thing she'll be interested in if you provide a variety of options.
Give Up On Things You'd Hoped To Do With Sons
In my experience, this is a concern that most often affects fathers who want to share a hobby with their future son. Sometimes, when those dads find out they have a daughter, even if they're not generally disappointed their shoulders sag as they think, "Well, I guess I won't be able to do [insert something our culture has convinced the general population only boys can do here] with her."
However, one does not watch sports, fish, hunt, read comics, play video games, or do any other appropriate parent/child activity with their genitals. Ergo a child's sex has no bearing on their ability to participate. Keep calm and carry on, as they say, because there's no need to change any of your plans.
Think You've Avoided General Grossness
Yeah, sorry if I have to be the one to tell you this, but all kids are gross. Horrifying, smelly things come out of them regardless of their sex or gender. They love getting into and making messes.
Sure, a daughter generally doesn't have the anatomical equipment to pee in your face during diaper changes, but I have two words for you: poop-covered vulva. (Oh, did you not know that was a thing? Yeah, diaper changes are a disaster. It's hideous.)
Assume You Will Have A Particular Relationship Based On Your Gender
A general life rule to keep in mind: personality trumps gender. Your personality and your child's unique personality is going to inform your relationship far better than your genders.
That's not to say gender isn't hugely important, or that it doesn't often play a big role in our personalities, but assuming your daughter is going to be a daddy's girl or that you're going to have a contentious mother-daughter relationship in her teens because "that's just what happens" is, at the very least, over-simplifying things.
Freak Out About Her Dating One Day
Look, your daughter isn't going to be dating for years. At least not until middle school. That's over a decade before you even have to think about it in any practical sense. So there's that.
And, honestly, it's not that big a deal. Raise her to have self-respect, model good relationships, keep lines of communication open so she knows she can come to you with any problem, and it's not that big a deal. The idea that you have to vigilantly guard your daughter's purity like a junkyard dog is unsettling and, frankly, a little creepy.
Think She's Going To Be A Miniature Version Of Her Mama
Again, personality trumps gender. Your kid is going to be who they are. There's a decent chance they'll be like you (you know, what with you raising them and all), but when you presume that you may wind up disappointed. This, in turn, could lead to some tension and your kid feeling like you want them to be something they're not.
So, if it turns out you have a mini-me: cool, and enjoy! If you don't, that's OK, too. Have fun with the child you have rather than spend time being wistful for one you don't.
Shun Girly Things To Make Her An Empowered Feminist Superheroine
So I've talked a lot about not pushing your daughter into pink dresses, princess costumes, and dolls., but you don't have to steer her away from those things either.
Telling a little girl that "girly things" are bad (moreover the girl things she really likes) is kind of a screwed up message, right? There's nothing wrong with femininity, or even hyper-femininity. If your daughter wants to wear head-to-toe pink with a sparkly tiara and a lacy tutu, that doesn't mean she can't also be a little badass feminist. The key is that she knows that's not what she has to be. As long as she knows there are options for her, you're doing your job.
Think It's Going To Be Wildly Different From Having A Boy
Seriously, I have some experience in this area: I have a boy and a girl and, aside from the cosmetic details, the major differences between them are based on who they are as people rather than their genders. It didn't require a separate skill set to be able to parent my daughter after parenting my son. I was even able to recycle a lot of the same clothes, toys, and all the same books. So, really and at the end of the day, the only things you need to prepare for when having a daughter are the same things you do when preparing for any other baby.
(Well, mostly. Always remember to wipe front to back. That's pretty clutch.)