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Just because my girls like to play rough it doesn’t mean they are ‘acting like boys’

I'm teaching my daughters about gender equality by letting them be who they are—without the labels.

Just because my girls like to play rough it doesn’t mean they are ‘acting like boys’

"She's quite a tomboy, you are going to have your hands full," said a stranger to me one day.

I was at the playground with my 18-month-old daughter two days before giving birth to my second daughter. Heavily pregnant and utterly exhausted, I struggled to keep up as my toddler climbed, jumped, swung and ran up and down the brightly colored play structure.

I mustered up a weak smile and said something like, "I know, she's very active."

When my oldest was 5 years old and my youngest was four, we moved into a new house up a quiet street at the end of a cul-de-sac. A few months after moving in, I bumped into our elderly neighbor while we were out getting our mail. She wasted no time in sharing her observations of my children.

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"Oh, your daughters are always climbing and falling down. They are more like boys than girls," she said.

When my daughters were in preschool they decided they wanted to be sea creatures for Halloween. At the Halloween parade, the children all lined up in their costumes to parade around the building collecting candy. I stood next to another mom taking pictures of the classroom girls in their costumes. Lined up were 11 princesses, one lobster, and one octopus.

She chuckled as she clicked photos, "Your girls are the least girly girls I know."

I was hoping it was a generational thing but the off-handed comments continued rolling in from people of all ages, genders and backgrounds. They came from friends, family, colleagues and strangers.

Just last week a close family friend fell victim to the trend. While having dinner, my daughters wanted to show off their latest invention to our guest, something that involved a clothesline, pulley system and their pet tortoise.

As my husband scolded them and said, "Let auntie eat her dinner," this well educated, open-minded, unmarried woman turned to us and said, "You are not raising girls, you know?"

Looking back, I have done it too. On more than one occasion I have chided my girls about proper behavior:

"Sit like a lady."

"Princesses don't eat with their mouths open."

"That's not very lady-like."

Every time my daughters are running, playing, climbing, jumping and just plain acting like an energetic kid someone—even myself—comments that they are acting like boys. I wonder how many of these comments my daughters have heard and what they think of them.

The message is clear: Every time a young girl is playing, building, rough-housing, constructing, or just being active then she is behaving "like a boy."

I know how these comments have made me feel.

They feel like an admonishment to me as a parent saying, "Hey Mom, control your daughters."

They feel like a gentle warning to my children saying, "Hey sisters, get back to your role. Remember who you are."

These comments are a sneaky reminder for parents to get their young girls in line. Girls should be quiet, obedient, passive; definitely not loud, energetic, and boisterous like boys.

I have found myself feeling embarrassed in public places when my daughters rough-house, laugh exuberantly, or heaven forbid tell an adult their opinion. Gender expectations and daily vernacular are so deeply ingrained that we are inadvertently pressuring our daughters to act "like girls" by being ashamed of and discouraging "boy-like" behavior.

We need to think deeply on the small everyday things we say and do to begin to rectify the massive wrongs that have been done to our daughters, sisters, mothers, grandmothers, sisters, wives, and friends for too long.

We need to rethink how we talk to our girls to avoid reinforcing gender stereotypes that have contributed to where we are today.

In a time when almost every woman I know has suffered harassment or assault in their lifetime, we must stop teaching our children that certain behaviors are "boy-like" and certain behaviors are "girl-like." All children need to be taught first and foremost that respect has no gender. And decency is human.

Despite the frequent judgemental remarks about my daughters' behavior, I have decided to celebrate their wonderful dizzying energy without giving into societal pressures to make them act more "like girls."

I want to change the way I talk to my girls. I want them to embrace being loud, strong, smart, active, determined girls.

Our daughters are not acting like boys when they think outside the box and dress as an octopus for Halloween.

Our daughters are not acting like boys when they confidently express their opinions to peers and adults.

Our daughters are not acting like boys when they climb with strong sure feet to the very top of the tree.

They are not acting like boys. They are acting like self-confident girls with strong, sure voices that will stand up for themselves and each other.

With our guidance, these girls will grow into women who will not quietly endure gender mistreatment and harassment. We need to teach our girls to demand respect and not tolerate anything less, and it starts by redefining what it means to act like a girl.

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By its very nature, motherhood requires some lifestyle adjustments: Instead of staying up late with friends, you get up early for snuggles with your baby. Instead of spontaneous date nights with your honey, you take afternoon family strolls with your little love. Instead of running out of the house with just your keys and phone, you only leave with a fully loaded diaper bag.

For breastfeeding or pumping mamas, there is an additional layer of consideration around when, how and how much your baby will eat. Thankfully, when it comes to effective solutions for nursing or bottle-feeding your baby, Dr. Brown's puts the considerations of mamas and their babies first with products that help with every step of the process—from comfortably adjusting to nursing your newborn to introducing a bottle to efficiently pumping.

With countless hours spent breastfeeding, pumping and bottle-feeding, the editors at Motherly know the secret to success is having dependable supplies that can help you feed your baby in a way that matches lifestyle.

Here are 9 breastfeeding and pumping products to help you no matter what the day holds.

Customflow™ Double Electric Breast Pump

Dr. Brown's electric pump

For efficient, productive pumping sessions, a double electric breast pump will help you get the job done as quickly as possible. Quiet for nighttime pumping sessions and compact for bringing along to work, this double pump puts you in control with fully adjustable settings.

$159.99

Hands-Free Pumping Bra

Dr. Brown''s hands free pumping bra

Especially in the early days, feeding your baby can feel like a pretty consuming task. A hands-free pumping bra will help you reclaim some of your precious time while pumping—and all mamas will know just how valuable more time can be!

$29.99

Manual Breast Pump with SoftShape™ Silicone Shield

Dr. Brown's manual breast pump

If you live a life that sometimes takes you away from electrical outlets (that's most of us!), then you'll absolutely want a manual breast pump in your arsenal. With two pumping modes to promote efficient milk expression and a comfort-fitted shield, a manual pump is simply the most convenient pump to take along and use. Although it may not get as much glory as an electric pump, we really appreciate how quick and easy this manual pump is to use—and how liberating it is not to stress about finding a power supply.

$29.99

Nipple Shields and Sterilization Case

Dr. Brown's nipple shields

There is a bit of a learning curve to breastfeeding—for both mamas and babies. Thankfully, even if there are some physical challenges (like inverted nipples or a baby's tongue tie) or nursing doesn't click right away, silicone nipple shields can be a huge help. With a convenient carry case that can be sterilized in the microwave, you don't have to worry about germs or bacteria either. 🙌

$9.99

Silicone One-Piece Breast Pump

Dr. Brown's silicone pump

When you are feeding your baby on one breast, the other can still experience milk letdown—which means it's a golden opportunity to save some additional milk. With a silent, hands-free silicone pump, you can easily collect milk while nursing.

$14.99

Breast to Bottle Pump & Store Feeding Set

After a lifetime of nursing from the breast, introducing a bottle can be a bit of a strange experience for babies. Dr. Brown's Options+™ and slow flow bottle nipples were designed with this in mind to make the introduction to bottles smooth and pleasant for parents and babies. As a set that seamlessly works together from pumping to storing milk to bottle feeding, you don't have to stress about having everything you need to keep your baby fed and happy either.

$24.99

Washable Breast Pads

washable breast pads

Mamas' bodies are amazingly made to help breast milk flow when it's in demand—but occasionally also at other times. Especially as your supply is establishing or your breasts are fuller as the length between feeding sessions increase, it's helpful to use washable nursing pads to prevent breast milk from leaking through your bra.

$8.99

Breast Milk Storage Bags

Dr. Brown's milk storage bags

The essential for mamas who do any pumping, breast milk storage bags allow you to easily and safely seal expressed milk in the refrigerator or freezer. Dr. Brown's™ Breast Milk Storage Bags take it even further with extra thick walls that block out scents from other food items and feature an ultra secure lock to prevent leaking.

$7.99


Watch one mama's review of the new Dr. Brown's breastfeeding line here:

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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