by Heather Freeman, click here to get all our posts.
Do you remember the enthusiasm you felt upon that initial spark: “Hey! We’re having a baby!” What would you say to yourself now, these many moons later? Would you warn yourself off, or encourage yourself forward? We at the Gutsy Girl Club wanted to know, and we bet you do too. So we asked parents of girls from across the country one simple question: What’s the one thing you wish you’d known before you had your daughter? Oh boy, did you all deliver with the advice! From the cynical to the hilarious, you shared tremendously practical insights for aspiring moms and dads (or those that may want some reminders). This is precisely the type of knowledge we here at the Gutsy Girl Club aspire to curate and share in our quest to offer the ultimate girl power resource for the entire parent of girls community. The advice starts with can’t miss parenting fundamentals.
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Here’s what we heard.
Becoming A Parent
"Making the decision to have a child - it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. ”
"Mommy brain. You won’t remember a thing, don’t worry it happens to all of us."
“You are the right parent for your kids, whoever you naturally are, and they are the right kids for you. If someone constantly needs to compete, it says more about them than it does about you.”
- Submitted by Laura Sanford (Buzzfeed)
A Girl's Identity
"She may be way girlier than you are.
Even if you've done your best to create a gender-neutral play space stocked with trucks, trains and all sorts of "boy" toys, she may develop a passion for princesses and Barbies and pretty pink ballerina gear out of the ether. Some girls just naturally flock to the girly stuff. “Samantha is my girly child. She loves to carry a purse, wear jewelry, and lip gloss is her favorite thing in the world. She asked me at age 4 if I could buy her high heels and a bra,” says mom of three Kelly G. Phillips.
"Telling them they're beautiful is not enough. I want to tell them this all the time. Because they are. But when I do, I feel like I also have to say a whole host of other things — you're kind, thoughtful, smart, creative, funny — so they don't ever think it's just about being beautiful.
You can't help but see yourself in your daughters. Despite the fact that my girls are these dynamic, smart, beautiful creatures (see above), I can't help but see in them the things that drive me most crazy about myself — namely, my need for approval and deep fear of criticism. And because of this, I am working on being kinder and more forgiving — to them and myself. Also, my thighs. I admit it, I worry they will inherit my thighs. And then I feel bad for even thinking that.
You will always be the most important role model. My girls' library is filled with books about amazing women from history. We talk regularly about Hillary Clinton, the upcoming election, and the possibility of a female president. I point out trailblazing women in the news, and most recently, we celebrated the women's U.S. soccer team with an almost frenzied excitement. But at the end of the day, the woman they look up to most is me — their mom. They talk like me, walk like me, and turn to me to answer any and all questions they have about the world. If I am being honest, I am overwhelmed by this responsibility. I know I am going to make mistakes along the way. Big, bad mistakes. I am certain they will hate me for these transgressions at some point or at many points. But something I didn't know until they were born is that one day, if they are lucky enough to have daughters of their own, much of their frustration with me will disappear — as it did for me with my own mom. Being a mother helps you understand your mother."
The Day to Day: Girl Life
"The social terrain gets rough early.
My daughter is in second grade and experiencing social strife — namely, her beloved BFF wants some space and broke up with her in a note," Chicago mother of two Christie O. Tate (no relation) told TODAY Parents. "It's a heartbreaking situation for my kid, but every time I talk about it with other mothers, we revert to the single available narrative: how mean girls are. I didn't realize it was our ONLY explanation for the complex social navigation our daughters do in these young years."
Though girls can be mean to each other, that doesn't always make them "mean girls," Tate said. "The other girl isn't a mean girl — she's trying to get some space. We need more narratives for the great emotional and social work our girls are doing."
"Treat Yourself: You are allowed to take a break once in a while even if it’s for just 30 minutes. Go take a nice long shower, eat your meal in one sitting or get a manicure/pedicure that you so badly need. If the mommy is happy, everyone is happy.
This could be an endless list and I could do add 100 more things I wish I knew. But it’s a joyous journey discovering new things too and it’s absolutely fine to be surprised by your motherhood experiences."
Trupti Gupe Ram
The Parenting Journey
"There will be moments when you feel like you have let yourself or your children down. Nobody is the perfect parent, nobody gets it right 100% of the time."
- Submitted by Nellie Gillis (Buzzfeed)
“Don't be afraid to reach out for help, you’re not alone.”
- Submitted by Jenn Theriault (Buzzfeed)
"You need good people around you.
You do not know everything about parenting, but thankfully, asking questions and getting help is not a crime. Perhaps, some of your relationships will drift apart as you have a new lifestyle, but remember that it is about quality, not quantity. Make sure to surround yourself with people that will encourage and supports your current season. It could be your own parents, siblings, relatives, friends or an older couple you look up to.
As you ask for help and questions, see to it that you are not looking for it in the wrong places. Listen to their guidance, but be a filter of these pieces of advice and not a sponge."
Casey Bunn mom & creator of Handsocks
"No matter how exhausted you are, or how desperately you need a little time to yourself, there is no other job in the world as awesome and rewarding as being a mom."
"You Will Never Be the Same. Parenting changes you. I expected this, but I didn’t expect just how radically it would. It’s not like you turn into your mom or dad overnight, but your values, perspective, and habits get realigned to one single creature: your child (or your children, if you have more than one)."
What you say?
What in this round-up resonates with you? Did we miss an important warning to future parents of girls? Please share in the comments! We’d also love to read your response to the all-important question: What’s the one thing you wish you’d known before having a daughter? If you haven’t welcomed your daughter yet, what’s the biggest question in your mind before getting started? We so appreciate your continued input on this important topic because it helps to shape the future of the Gutsy Girl Club content. We’re here to serve your interests; we’re building this resource together. We look forward to connecting with you in the comments below!
Raising a Girl Made Easy, Click here to get all our posts.