The one phrase women need to stop saying―especially if they have daughters
Dani Moran

"I've always had a really hard time getting along with other girls. Girls are so mean!"

I'm sitting in the lobby of my daughter's gymnastics gym with a group of other mothers when I hear the words float out of the mouth of the woman seated in front of me. Like it does every time I hear this all-too-common phrase, I feel my guard go up. I'm especially disturbed when I realize that she's the mother of one of the girls in my daughter's class.

Because, truly, I think this phrase is one of the worst things women can ever say around little girls.


Sometimes the words sound different. Sometimes it's the mother of another strong-willed girl laughing to me that, "our girls will probably never get along!" Because how could two confident, boss-like women share any space, let alone friendship?

Sometimes it's a well-meaning woman comforting her crying daughter at the park, whispering into her ear that, "it's all right―girls are just mean, it's not your fault!" At its most innocuous, it might sound like, "I've never had a lot of female friends." At its worst, it comes out, "Girls are awful."

But at the end of the day, the message is clear: Women are not to be trusted. And its subtext, almost as clear: You are not to be trusted.

I have three distinct reactions when I hear a woman say those words. First, my hackles immediately rise. No, not in some misogynistic "cat fight" scenario―it's a reaction of self-preservation. This woman has told me she is not my friend in no uncertain terms. She has told me she doesn't trust me, so it becomes incredibly hard to trust her.

Second, I have to work extremely hard to restrain an eye roll. Because really? You can't be friends with more than half of the population of humankind? That seems unlikely, if not a reason for some self-reflection.

Third, I feel a deep sense of sadness for this woman. For all the friendships she will never have because of this decided stance on her own kind. For the nights of shoulder crying she will never experience with someone who can truly and deeply understand and see her. For the belly laughs and celebratory shrieks she will never share with her best girlfriend. For the shared commiseration over everything from menstruation to motherhood that only comes with a female friend.

I am flooded with my own memories of being built up, encouraged and refined―all by my female friends―and I'm sad that she has already decided to forever keep these moments at an arm's length.

I can't decide if women who say this think it's impressive to have lots of male friends. There's a strange irony in this sense of pride, though. Because, if I'm being totally honest, I've never heard a truly, sincerely confident woman say those words.

And I have a theory why: Women who can't get along with other women―who don't like other women―can't really like themselves because they were the first woman they ever met. You can't be a woman who dislikes women and like yourself.

I'm sure there is someone (maybe several someones) who just read that line and felt their own hackles rise. And I don't mean to insult that person.

It's just that this thought―this idea that women can't possibly be amazing in their own right and coexist and collaborate with other amazing women―has been foisted upon women for centuries. We've been told to compete, told there isn't enough to go around, and told that we are the enemy.

And if you could just stop believing that―stop believing that femaleness is the problem―you could let go of that fear. From the fear that every other woman is out to get you just because, deep down, you are competing with every woman you see―so they must feel the same.

The problem is compounded when I hear those words come out of the mouth of another girl mom. Because, at that moment, it's like I'm watching a germ get passed to the next generation.

I picture her daughter internalizing these words for the rest of her life. I picture her spending her youth shying away from other women―perpetually peeking from her peripherals for signs of betrayal and attack from her female peers.

I picture her hitting puberty, that tumultuous time when an empathizing ally is all but crucial to surviving, but instead finds herself on an island. Not friendless, probably, but emotionally isolated and increasingly paranoid as nearly everything around her, from her developing body to her first romances, occurs under a thick veil of competition instead of empowerment and support.

I picture her keeping all those wonderful memories I cherish at an arm's length too.

Even worse, I see her growing up mean. Hating other women with the same vitriol these words imply. Seeing women as snake-like, catty, conniving, backstabbing, gossipy monsters. And, in time, seeing herself the same way. Because you can't be a woman who dislikes women and like yourself.

That's what I want to say to these women, these mothers of daughters who have already renounced their own kind―you are telling your daughter that she is these things. You are telling her she is mean and exclusive and unkind. And the way we talk to and around our children often becomes their inner voice―our children often become what we repeatedly tell them they are.

I am not naive. I've had women be unkind to me. I've been unkind to other women. I know girls and women can be mean. They can be cruel, conniving, backstabbing and gossipy. But I also know that women don't have a monopoly on any of those things. And I don't have to look any farther than the woman next to me to find someone who was also treated unkindly by a male friend.

At times in my life, I've had more male friends than female friends. But I've also had (and have currently) more female friends than male friends. Because I never shut the door. I never decided one way was better than the other―or punished either group as a whole due to one or a handful of bad experiences.

Currently, I'm privileged to work at a company that is 99% female, female-founded and female-led, and it is the single most rewarding career experience of my life. Every single woman I work with is smart, incredible at her job, and also incredibly kind and collaborative.

Currently, I'm the mother of two girls of my own. And I can't imagine surviving in motherhood, let alone thriving, without the supportive village of women friends I've built up around me.

Mamas who get it. Mamas who help me laugh through teething and tantrums, soothe my anxieties about milestones and discipline and celebrate the first steps and first full nights of sleep right along with me. When fellow mothers tell me they have a hard time making female friends, I'm doubly sad for them at the thought of walking this road without a fellow mama at their side.

So, how can we help the problem instead of continuing to spread this anti-female germ?

We can show our daughters another way. We can recognize that breaking the cycle of mean girls begins with throwing out mean girl rhetoric―including the kind we've written for ourselves.

We can stop generalizing our entire sex in a negative light―and show our daughters that they can be the kind women we wish we had encountered every time we made a new female friend. Teach them to look for kindness in other women, instead of focusing on any perceived negativity.

And, most importantly, we can stop saying we have a hard time being friends with other women. We can find and make and work on female friendships. Not everyone is going to be the Laverne to our Shirley. Maybe we won't be willing to drive the proverbial convertible off the proverbial cliff for every woman we meet. But that's okay. The point is, we're keeping the door open.

Because you never know what kind, amazing woman is going to come walking through it to be the friend you never knew you needed.

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They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

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Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.


Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!


Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.


Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.


Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.


Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.


Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.


Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.


Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.


Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.


Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.


Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.


Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.


Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.


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