parents

9 things I wish I’d known about raising a girl

July 10, 2014 at 3:03 PM ET

Reading with girls
Gina Ferrara
A huge bonus of having a girl: You get to read "Black Beauty," "Nancy Drew" and Judy Blume all over again.

When you found out you were having a girl, you might have pictured spa pedicures and fancy tea parties and matching mommy-and-me dresses. Since you're a girl yourself, you probably figured you'd have the daughter deal all dialed in. But the truth is, your little lass will have a few surprises up her tiny sleeve. From relentless chatting to the urge to hoard to the nearly universal obsession with all things pink, daughters are a breed unto themselves. Here, a sneak peek into your future.

1. You'll buy her stuff she doesn't need.

Feathered hair bands, polka dotted tights, tiny pillbox purses, socks that look like ballet shoes: It won't be long before your tiny toddler has a more extensive accessory collection than you do. “I constantly buy her stuff she doesn't need,” says mom of three Tara Porter Skibar. “She likes fashion and I feed into it. I think it’s because this is stuff I wanted to buy when I was younger and my parents wouldn't get it for me.”

In fact, don’t be surprised if you’re more excited by the stash of fun accessories than she is. “She has a large collection (of tights, headbands, etc.) and if she does wear them, they normally don't last more than an hour,” says mom Michelle McDaniel.

2. 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.

3. Her desire to borrow your heels, jewels, handbags and more will start as soon as she can walk and talk (and grow from there).

"Going to Costco to get some coffee!" she'll announce, clogging along in your New Year's Eve heels (that, for the record, you rarely wear to Costco). In the toddler years this is silly dress-up at its best, so enjoy it. Soon enough she'll be wanting to borrow these things for real. Be prepared for battle. “I have a pair of luxury sunglasses and my daughter continuously 'borrows' them and takes selfies and will then post them on Instagram,” Skibar says.

Girls borrow stuff from mom
Tara Porter Skibar
"I'll just borrow these sunglasses for a minute ..."

4. Everything starts early.

Sure, all kids are different, but girls seem to hit the major developmental milestones before similarly aged boys. Rolling over, sitting up, blowing kisses, clapping hands, potty training, reading: Don't be surprised if she masters all of these and more before the boys her age (though it almost always evens out in the end). Phillips found this out firsthand with her eldest daughter. “Emma really did start everything early,” she says. “She walked at 9 months and was potty trained before 2. She has always ‘acted’ years ahead of her time.”

Related story: 10 things I wish I'd known about raising a boy

5. She'll strike a sexy pose.

She might be dancing or putting on a show, or simply just showing off her new Dora swimsuit when it happens: With her hip thrust out and her head thrown back, you'll do a double-take when you realize she looks like a miniature Victoria's Secret model. “Samantha actually twerked at a party and I thought I was going to die,” Phillips says. “Everyone started laughing so of course she kept doing it. When I asked her to stop, she gave me a look of pure innocence wondering what she was doing wrong.”

Skibar had a similar experience. “When my girls were 4 and 8, I wanted to take a picture of them at the pool. They both ran to get their sunglasses and posed like models or what they thought models posed like. I thought the poses looked a little too sexy for their age and it made me really worried about their teenage years.”

Girls strike a pose
Tara Porter Skibar
Posing at the pool.

6. You'll relish the excuse to read "Black Beauty," "Nancy Drew" and Judy Blume again.

The minute you crack the spine of one of your childhood favorites, you'll be transported directly back to that magical time. “My daughter is only going into the second grade come August, and I can't wait to get out my Ramona Quimby books to share with her!” McDaniel said.

Besides the walk down memory lane, you’ll also appreciate the excuse to snuggle together. “Reading books with my 5- and 7-year-old daughters is a special time,” says mom of three Gina Ferrara. “We finished 'The Diary of Anne Frank' and currently are reading Helen Keller's autobiography.”

7. She'll likely go through an "I'm only wearing dresses" phase.

Somewhere around the age of 3, she'll develop definitive ideas about what she wants to wear that may or may not be in alignment with what's clean, the weather, standards of decency or what happens to be in style at the particular moment. Just when you've rid her wardrobe choices of anything that doesn't have a skirt, her preference may just change to some other curious thing (an inside-out tank top, leopard-print rain boots, a bikini top over a turtleneck) for the next stretch. The sooner you realize it really doesn't matter, the happier you both will be.

It also helps if you can find a way to keep her comfortable — and covered up — in the meantime. “When my daughter went through the ‘only wearing dresses phase,’ I was relived to find ‘monkey bar’ shorts (as we call them in our house) at various stores to wear under them without looking goofy,” McDaniel remembers. “Why do the dresses with bottom covers stop at size 24 months?”

8. She'll hoard ... everything.

Pine cones, rubber bands, hair thingies, erasers, flower petals, bottle caps, sea glass, stray buttons, dead bugs: If she can stuff it in a baggie, she'll collect it. It's an evolutionary nod to her gatherer-girl roots and she honestly can't help it. “And you’ll find what she’s hoarded everywhere,” McDaniel says. “In the closet, in the drawers of her nightstand, under her bed...”

9. You'll fight over her hair constantly.

It's in her eyes. It needs a trim. You like it up, she likes it down. Yes, she has to wash it. No, she's not going out of the house with that rat's nest on her head. Fine, you'll curl/straighten it just this once. No, she can't do it herself. The hair wars will last as long as you let them (translation: until you realize that it's just hair and decide to surrender).

“I used to fight with my girls to get a bow in their hair,” says mom of two Kaycee Garrett. “I felt that after a long day at day care, they would come home looking like sweaty, dirty, unloved children. But, if they had a bow in their hair, then they looked like someone in the world loved them enough to stick that bow in their hair. And just about the time you think they've outgrown bows, they start begging for super-sized, super-expensive bows, and you think to yourself, "Well played, daughter. Well played.”

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