Husband treating daughter like "one of the boys"!

Rita - posted on 07/02/2013 ( 10 moms have responded )

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I don't know what to do! My husband has always wanted several kids (we have two with one on the way), but more specifically, boys! I guess he wants to form a small football team, lol.

We have one son who is six years old, but that's not good enough. He treats my little girl like she's a boy. She loves her daddy and always wants to play sports with him and her big brother when they go out- which is fine. My issues is that they are very rough with her. She's gotten bruised and scratched up and my husband just tells her to get up and brush it off. "No crying, it's for sissy's."

He takes care of the kids on the weekends when he is off work so I can get a break but he dresses her in boyish clothes. He only buys her "traditionally" boy-oriented toys like trucks and guns and army action figures. She now hates any "girly" toys like dolls or tea sets.

Is this ok or should I step in and steer things in a different direction?

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Carol - posted on 07/02/2013

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Is your daughter happy doing these things? If she is, leave it alone. She plays with you one way and him another. Aside from normal bruises and scraps that comes with playing rough and sports, is he purposely or neglectfully hurting her? It doesn't sound like it. It sounds like he's an awesome dad that likes to interact with his kids. The sissy comments are a little much. Maybe talk to him about it.

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Christy - posted on 07/18/2013

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My daughter is 7yr. We do girly stuff with her but she will be out in a dress playing tackle football with the boys. She does karate and Jazz. I do her hair and she has make up and dolls, but she all so has a .22 gun that she shoots with the family and has cars and trucks. There is nothing wrong with her being like a boy. If you want her to be a little more girly show her what it is. I don't let my daughter cry in less she is hurt and she really has to be hurt that is the number one rule in my house. Sounds like your husband is just trying to make her tough.

User - posted on 07/13/2013

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I was raised with 3 brothers, and in the military. I was raised as one of the boys. It made me competitive, tough and a go-getter. I didn't know anything about make up, getting nails done...or any of the many other things that I feel girls should know. Yes, I was very successful at a young age...but I was so far behind other girls. Does she have any other little girls to hang around? I realize she is young, but other female friends or play dates I would highly encourage.

Evangelyna - posted on 07/12/2013

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If she's happy and having fun just let it be.

My mom always used to buy me these beautiful doll houses and porcelain dolls and all of the girly stuff under the sun. I wasn't interested. I wanted to be out in the garage with my dad while he worked on his car. I wanted to be big enough to play with my big brother and his friends. I have always been more interested in "boy things" and always wanted to be like my dad.

My dad was in the military and a police officer, when I was little (like 6) I made him show me how to do push ups because I was determined to one day be in the military like he was. When I was around 8 I was the only girl on the flag football team and would get mad if anyone tried to treat me differently just because I was a girl.

I have always and probably will always get highly offended when men or women try to tell me I can't do something because of my gender or when a guy wants to help me with something I'm perfectly capable of. The only time I ever take my car to a shop is when I need new tires because I'm perfectly capable of doing everything under the hood myself. I don't need anyone's help lifting heavy things; I loathe when people say women don't have any upper body strength because I DO and I'm proud of my muscles. If something gets broken I will fix it myself. If I want a something custom made, I'll build it myself.

Not every little princess is meant to be a damsel in distress, some little girls enjoy being "one of the guys" and that's perfectly fine. I've always loved being treated as an equal, I know how to be a lady and was a tiny bit girly when I hit 16 or 17 (girly as in I would willingly wear a dress and knew how to put on mascara without stabbing my eye lo) but I also know how to take care of myself and have never needed a man around to do things for me. Honestly for me being treated like one of the guys all of my life gave me the confidence to not be "boy crazy" or ever "need" to be in a relationship and to never listen to ridiculous gender bias or stereotypes.

So like I said, if she's happy then don't interfere, playing rough with her brother and being treated the same by her dad isn't going to hurt her, it'll probably help her.

Tracy - posted on 07/09/2013

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Y'know, playing like this isn't necessarily a "boy" thing. Girls are allowed to play sports (outside, even!) as they get older; they ride bikes and roller skate and all kinds of other things, too! My husband takes all three of our kids (one girl, 2 boys) fishing and hunting with him. We all ride bikes, go skating, go hiking, go to the beach -- and inevitably, someone falls and gets bumped, bruised and bloody. Usually it's me because I'm notoriously a klutz, but really, none of us are immune. Learning to master certain skills like bike riding pretty much require getting hurt, and learning to suck it up and keep going is sometimes necessary. I played with my brother's GI Joes and race cars when I was a kid.

Honestly, it's probably better for her than not doing any of these things. She's hopefully learning to enjoy being physically active, which will keep her healthy in the long run. If she continues on to team sports as she gets older, she'll learn teamwork and good sportsmanship, and she'll probably learn how to make friends fairly easily. Also, she'll probably feel less hampered by "traditional" society roles for women vs. men as she starts looking at careers -- girls are less encouraged in math & sciences even though statistically they tend to perform better than boys in these classes as students -- and she'll have enough knowledge not to be taken advantage of by men in the way that her contemporaries who are treated like little princesses may be. For instance, if Dad teaches her how to take care of basic vehicle maintenance, she's less likely to be taken advantage of by mechanics who use others' ignorance about car care to pad their bills.

Encourage her to do these things if she enjoys them; and encourage both your kids in quieter activities with you, as well. No boys were ever hurt by learning how to do housework, and your daughter's not a fragile glass unicorn that will shatter if encouraged to develop her strength and tolerance for life's bumps and bruises.

Diana - posted on 07/08/2013

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My sister, my brothers daughters and all my sons were taught to "rub it in" and not cry when they get a bruise or a scratch. We never made a big deal of small hurts. Kids are going to get bumps and bruises. My sister is perfectly girlie and loves kickboxing. My nieces are both into sports, make up and boys now that they are preteens. My older boys are all football fanatics and my younger boys are active. My little guys are being trained as sports players as well. It's all about parenting style. If my boys get hurt bad, they let you know. They don't panic. My 4 year old had a bleeding scratch and let my 15 year old know so he could wash it and put a bandage on it.
As for dolls and tea sets, I wouldn't worry. I would definitely get her sports equiptment that is all hers though.

My #2 sons high school counselor told me that teens being in sports is the best way to keep them focused and let them get out their aggression and sense of competition.

Rachel - posted on 07/07/2013

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This kind of play is what dads are for! I have three girls- first has no interest in this, and makes it known. Second NEEDS NEEDS NEEDS it. She is super tough and energetic, and would exhaust me if her dad didn't wear her out. third one just likes the social interaction and reflects what she thinks we want to see. If your daughter is the third, just make sure she knows daddy will still love her no matter who she is. And yeah, the crying thing needs to be addressed, because suppressing sadness usually leads to anger management issues, and that isn't healthy. Much better that she learn to work through sadness and tears than swallowing the rage that will inevitably take its place. That said, tears are still emotionally exhausting, and when someone is fired up with adrenaline (from roughhousing) tears can trigger an aggressive fight or flight response. Your kids dad can't help getting upset by the tears. You need to communicate both these processes to all of them and come up with something that honors everyone.

Cyndi - posted on 07/04/2013

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How old is your daughter? Mine was a very rough tough little girl until a few months ago, she even played football in our little league with all boys and did it better than most of the boys. Girls go through stages too and she may like it now and later change her mind.

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I don't see a problem as long as she's happy. Do your boys get bruised and scratched up as well? ( Mine always has at least a couple of bruises or scratches on him--he plays rough). If it is okay for them, it should be okay for her as well. I never liked dolls or tea sets either, but I'm a perfectly girly adult woman. I guess I grew into it :)

Not allowing her to cry might be an odd one for me. I think it is fine for children of either sex to cry as long as they excuse themselves first and find a quiet place away from others to do it. I know my son has cried on occasion when he is frustrated. I would never call him a "sissy" for crying, but I do expect him to do it away from others where he won't disturb them. For many people, crying is a good form of emotional release so it should be practiced, and encouraged if she enjoys it, but it can also make those who are not crying very uncomfortable....maybe crying makes your husband uncomfortable? I never know what to say to people who cry in front of me.

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